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What Causes Lower Back Pain in Early Pregnancy?

In order to help alleviate back pain, pregnant women should keep their weight gain within a healthy target range.
Pregnancy places strain on one's back due to extra weight and a change in posture.
The human body, with the area primarily affected by lower back pain shown in red.
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  • Written By: Stacy C.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2014
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There are several causes for lower back pain in early pregnancy, which up to 75% of pregnant women experience. Some of the most common causes are the growing uterus, posture changes, and an increase of hormones. All of these things are normal and will not affect the fetus or the pregnancy. In rare cases, lower back pain can be a symptom of something more serious, such as a kidney infection or sciatica.

The body’s center of gravity changes during pregnancy to accommodate the growing uterus. This usually means a change in posture as the body tries to get comfortable adjusting to a new center of gravity. Adopting a new posture can use back muscles that are not often in use, causing muscle pain in the lower back. Although many women do not experience a large amount of weight gain early in the pregnancy, those that do may be adding to the back pain as extra weight makes muscles and joints work harder than usual.

Hormones play a part in lower back pain as well. Increased hormones tend to loosen joints to make room for the baby and make it physically easier to give birth, but this also loosens up the joint that connects the pelvis to the spine. Aches and pains in the lower back can be an effect of this loosened joint because the pelvis is moving around more than it did before the pregnancy.

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In more extreme cases, lower back pain in early pregnancy can be a symptom of sciatica or a kidney infection. Only about 1% of pregnant women suffer from sciatica, which is characterized by leg pain or numbness that can reach all the way down to legs and toes. Kidney infections can be identified by pain under the ribs, especially when accompanied by vomiting, fever or bloody urine.

Most low back pain occurs in the back part of the pelvis or in the lumbar vertebrae of the lower back. Both of these can be aggravated by heavy exercise, twisting, lifting and climbing. To combat pain in early pregnancy, some medical professionals recommend stretching, swimming, and low impact walking. A medical professional should be consulted before a pregnant woman experiencing back pain attempts any of these methods of pain relief. It is also helpful for her to be mindful of proper posture, avoid standing for long periods of time and wear comfortable shoes.

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Discuss this Article

DrJMalay
Post 5

Chiropractic care can be an effective way of treating the causes of lower back pain in women, even those who are pregnant. The important thing is that there are ways to acquire relief.

anon340122
Post 4

Chiropractic care can be an effective way of treating the causes of lower back pain in women, even those who are pregnant. The important thing is that there are ways to acquire relief. causes of lower back pain in women

discographer
Post 3

@burcinc-- Sometimes lower back pain can be a sign of miscarriage, but it's also a common pregnancy symptom. Everyone who has lower back pain in early pregnancy should not assume that they're having a miscarriage, as miscarriages can occur without any pain whatsoever. It's a good idea to watch symptoms and report to a doctor if they become worrisome.

The other thing is that every women is different. I had no lower back pain in the first trimester but had terrible back pain in the second and third. My sister in law was exactly the opposite, had some back pain only in the first trimester.

stoneMason
Post 2

@burcinc-- Lower back pain in the first trimester is absolutely normal. Even though the fetus is still small, the uterus is growing to be able to carry the baby throughout the pregnancy. As the uterus grows, it pulls on certain ligaments and muscles in the back and causes back pain.

Unless there is unbearable pain, cramping or bleeding, there is nothing to worry about.

burcinc
Post 1

How do we explain lower back pain at three or four months when the baby is not big enough to cause posture changes or apply weight on the back?

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