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  • Writer's pictureDr Michael Tebbe

3 warning signs of developing back pain during pregnancy

Updated: Nov 17, 2018

Low back pain during pregnancy can be a huge hindrance during your pregnancy.  It can mean less hours of sleep, more fatigue, more emotional outbursts, fewer hours a week of necessary physical movement to prepare for birth, and lots of frustration.  In this article we will discuss 3 warning signs that you may develop back pain during pregnancy.  We will also discuss why doing something about your pain sooner than later is a huge benefit.  Lastly we will discuss some options you have to manage your pain.

Why is back pain so common during pregnancy?

There is a lot of debate as to why back pain during pregnancy is so common.  When I looked today in 2018 many resources still cite that relaxin is thought to be a reason for pregnancy related back pain.  There was one study that implicated relaxin is a cause but 2 subsequent studies have shown that not to be the case.  What is thought to be the reason now is the postural changes women go through while pregnant.  As many of you probably have experienced your posture completely changes as your belly grows.  You are carrrying a lot of weight forward of your body that you normally never would.  Some women are able to adapt to these postural changes easily while others are not.

3 warning signs

The 3 warnings signs for developing back pain during pregnancy are as follows:

  • previous low back pain

  • previous pain around the pelvis

  • previous trauma to the pelvis

These 3 different things can be together or seperate.  Let me define the terms that I am using.  Low back pain I am defining as pain from the lowest rib to the top of the pelvis. Pelvic pain is pain experienced from the top of the pelvis below to where your butt muscles horizontally fold for leg motion.  The pain in the pelvis can be one sided, two sided or wrap around to the front.

3 warning sign of back pain during pregnancy

About 2 out of 10 women will only have pain in the pelvis.  Approximately 8/10 pregnant women will have low back pain, pelvic pain or both.  Since back pain during pregnancy is so common let's talk about some your options.

Pain management options during pregnancy

Chiropractic Care

A study done in 2008 showed that women experienced decreased pain with Chiropractic care.  It is quite common for women to use Chiropractic care during pregnancy.  This is an area of that needs further exploration but preliminary studies are very encouraging.  As well so many women are using Chiropractic these days during pregnancy with very positive results.

What happens in a Chiropractic visit? A Chiropractor will do a thorough exam to figure out where your pain is coming from and then give you a plan to take care of it.  Your care will include:

  • Adjustments to help your joints move properly

  • Gentle bodywork to release stored tightness

  • Simple exercises to strengthen the right areas to prevent pain

Core Exercises

Certain exercises can be done to help train the muscles to better support your body during the many changes it is going through.  There is good research showing that pregnant women who do these exercises are able to move better and sleep more hours.

Water Aerobics

There is not much research showing that water aerobics decreases back pain better than doing land based exercises.  What is interesting about women who did water aerobics is they asked for less pain medication during their labor.  Plus the other benefit about water aerobics is the safety of it.


There is some evidence showing that Acupuncture along with the right stabilizing exercises can be helpful for reducing back pain during pregnancy.

Take Action

Many women wait to seek care for back pain during pregnancy.  Sometimes they think that the pain will go away on its own or they are not sure of what options are available so they don't do anything.  The issue with waiting is the longer you experience pain the more likely it is to turn into a long term problem post pregnancy.

Here are 4 things that can predict a woman having back pain post pregnancy.

  • Weak back muscles.  Specifically the muscles don't have much endurance

  • Older age (Labor and delivery is a physical event that should be trained for like any other sport)

  • Having both low back and pelvic pain during pregnancy

  • Not liking their job (Hey emotional stress affects our physical body)

Here is an exercise I love that can be performend anywhere you are because you don't need to lie on the floor or have special equipment. 

Bottom line if you have any of the 3 warning signs go in for an evaluation with a Chiropractor so you can sleep well, move well and stay more positive during your pregnancy.  Taking care of a problem when it is small is much easier.

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