With my first child, I assumed that my aching back was par for the course and suffered through it. But my "grin and bear it" attitude became harder to pull off during my second pregnancy, when I was also carrying my 26-pound toddler and tons of baby gear. A combination of stretching, exercise, and my heating pad provided some relief, but I wish I'd known more about how to cut my risk of developing back pain in the first place.
It's a common problem: Between 50 and 80 percent of pregnant women experience a backache largely due to weight gain. Women are supposed to put on 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, and nearly half gain even more than that. The added weight is mainly distributed around the belly, which causes your center of gravity to tilt forward. To compensate for this shift, many women over-arch the lower back and round the upper back and head forward, which can lead to back problems.
A second culprit is the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which, as the name implies, relaxes the ligaments throughout the body. As pregnancy progresses, this hormone helps the pelvis expand to make more room for the baby. However, the effects of relaxin aren't just limited to the pelvic area. Ligaments in the spine also loosen up, which forces the back muscles to work much harder.
Sometimes a backache may be a sign of preterm labor. Call your doctor immediately if you experience pain that's centrally located very low in the back and is accompanied by pelvic pressure, spotting, or unusually thick vaginal discharge. For other types of aches, the following prevention and treatment strategies from the experts should help to make you more comfortable.