What factors cause back pain and body aches during pregnancy?

Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing

Back pain is pain in the upper or lower back and quite common in pregnancy. As a woman’s pregnancy progresses her center of gravity shifts and she attempts to compensate with her posture. There is some curving of the cervical spine to accommodate the increase in her breast size as well as some curving of the lumbar spine to accommodate her growing belly. These changes combined with the hormones she is producing which loosen her ligaments and joints can lead to backache during her pregnancy. Her posture, body mechanics, and muscle tone will also affect how much strain she feels on her back. These would all be considered normal causes of backache during pregnancy and a common discomfort for most pregnant women.

Other more serious causes of backache that should not be dismissed are kidney stones, kidney infections, and preterm labor. If you are pregnant and you are having severe back pain notify your OB/GYN or midwife. Prompt treatment of complications of pregnancy promotes a healthy mom and a healthy baby.

During pregnancy, you will probably feel some discomfort in your back, arms, legs, or joints. Several factors may lead to this discomfort:

  • Progesterone - one of the primary hormones of pregnancy - causes your joints and ligaments to loosen. This may cause aching in your hips and knees and even in your pubic bone.
  • Your growing belly changes your center of gravity and may pull your neck, shoulders, and back out of alignment.
  • The pressure of the growing uterus can constrict the veins and the nerves that go through the pelvis. This can lead to blood pooling in your legs, and to swelling, numbness, tingling, or cramping in your legs and feet.

Continue Learning about Pregnancy, Fertility and Childbirth

Sounding the Alarm On Keepsake Ultrasounds
Sounding the Alarm On Keepsake Ultrasounds
Everyone has a favorite keepsake stashed in a drawer somewhere -- a withered corsage from the prom, a yellowing newspaper write-up of the first high-s...
Read More
What happens when an egg is fertilized?
Darcy N. Bryan, MDDarcy N. Bryan, MD
When a egg is fertilized with a sperm, an embryo is created. In this video, Darcy Bryan, MD, of Rive...
More Answers
Should You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in Mind
Should You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in MindShould You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in MindShould You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in MindShould You Hire a Doula? 10 Things to Keep in Mind
Though only six percent of women hire them to help with pregnancy, doulas offer real benefits.
Start Slideshow
What Is the Centering Pregnancy Model?
What Is the Centering Pregnancy Model?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.