Back pain during pregnancy is common. Although it’s much more typical to have back pain during the second and third trimester, some women feel it earlier. The Mayo Clinic urges women to call their doctor if the back pain becomes severe or is accompanied by vaginal bleeding, which could be a sign of an underlying medical issue.
According to the American Pregnancy Association website, between 50 and 70 percent of women experience back pain during pregnancy. Some have back pain as early as 2 or 3 months after conception. It’s more common, though, to feel back pain between the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy–when the increasing weight of you and your baby add strain to your back.
One type of back pain during pregnancy is posterior pelvic pain. It occurs below the waistline around the tailbone and can sometimes extend into the backs of your thighs and buttocks. Another type of back pain, lumbar pain, is felt in the spinal region of your lower back. This is the common type of back pain that you may have experienced before you were pregnant.
Hormonal changes are a common cause of back pain during the first trimester. To prepare for the birth and help soften the joints and ligaments in your pelvic region, your body releases up to eight times the amount of hormones than before you became pregnant. This decreases the amount of back support that your body is used to.
You probably can’t prevent back pain completely, but there are ways to minimize the pain and discomfort. Applying heating pads or ice packs to the area can offer relief. Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles can help increase the support for your back and reduce the severity of back pain. The Mayo Clinic recommends trying pelvic tilt exercises, which involve kneeling on your hands and knees and pulling in your abdomen as you arch your spine upward.
Some medications can help minimize your back pain, but be sure to ask your doctor for medical advice before taking a pain reliever during pregnancy. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is generally safe to take while pregnant, but the Mayo Clinic doesn’t recommend taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs can alter the way the baby’s blood flows and lead to possibly fatal conditions for your baby.