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Is Bad Back Pain a Sign of Pregnancy?

Many women do experience back pain during their pregnancy, but it is not typically an early sign of pregnancy. Pregnancy symptoms differ from woman to woman. Other explanations for bad back pain could be stress, impending menstruation or physical strain. The only way to be sure that the back pain you are feeling is a sign that you are pregnant is to take a pregnancy test or visit your doctor.


While some women experience back pain early on in the pregnancy, it is not typical. Back pain is much more common between the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy, mainly due to strain caused by the increasing weight of the baby, though it can start as early as eight to 12 weeks after conception. Overall, 50 to 75 percent of all pregnant women experience some sort of back pain during pregnancy.

Common signs

Symptoms vary from pregnancy to pregnancy, but the most common sign is a missed or delayed period. Other symptoms may include nausea, tender/swollen breasts, frequent urination and fatigue. These symptoms typically develop within the first eight weeks after conception, and sometimes as soon as one week after conception. However, for some women these symptoms do not occur at all. To make sure that these symptoms are related to pregnancy and not to something else, be sure to take a pregnancy test or visit your doctor.


One cause of back pain during pregnancy is due to the increased levels of hormones. Your body releases these extra hormones to soften the ligaments in your pelvic region and loosen your joints in preparation for the birth. This can throw off the support your back used to have before your pregnancy. Another cause is due to your growing uterus, which shifts your center of gravity and weakens your abdominal muscles, putting strain on your back. The expanding uterus may also be hitting a nerve, causing pain and discomfort.


There are two types of back pain that are common during pregnancy. The first, lumbar pain, occurs in the spinal region of your lower back around your waist. This is the same type of back pain that many non-pregnant people feel. Lumbar pain, or lower back pain, can intensify with repetitive lifting and from standing or sitting for long periods of time. The second type of back pain, posterior pelvic pain, is felt below the waistline on either or both sides of the tailbone. The pain can also extend into your buttocks and the backs of your thighs.


Unfortunately, no magic bullet exists to cure back pain during pregnancy, but there are some ways you can reduce the severity of the pain. Exercises that strengthen your back and abdominal muscles are a great way to minimize back pain, as well as maintaining correct posture and wearing shoes that provide adequate support. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can also alleviate back pain. To add support to your back, your doctor may also prescribe a pelvic belt.

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