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Web Q&A: Back Pain During Pregnancy

February 2011
Back Pain During Pregnancy

Beverley Savage, MD, Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Beth Israel Deaconess - Plymouth
Talia Fenoglietto, DC, Chiropractor, Jordan Spine Care

The joys of pregnancy are many, but they are often accompanied by some discomfort as well. One of the most common complaints during pregnancy is back pain.

With the rapid physical changes women undergo during those nine months, it is no wonder that the National Institutes of Health reports that 50% or more women experience back pain during pregnancy . Some sources say it could be as much as 80%. Hormonal changes, the enlarging uterus, stretching abdominal muscles and ligaments, and a constantly shifting center of gravity all add up to real strain for the back.


Is your pregnancy causing you back pain? Dr. Fenoglietto and Beth Israel Deaconess - Plymouth BirthPlace Laborist Dr. Brigid McCue will present “What’s That? Pregnancy, back pain, and body changes” on Tuesday, February 22 from 6:30-8:00 pm at the Pembroke Public Library. Registration is FREE by calling 800-2JORDAN.


We asked Beth Israel Deaconess - Plymouth Obstetrician Dr. Beverley Savage and Chiropractor Dr. Talia Fenoglietto to share their advice on how to minimize back pain during pregnancy.

Q: When is back pain usually an issue in pregnancy?
Although frequently noted during the third trimester-- when weight gain is at its height-- back pain can occur at any time during pregnancy. Muscles and ligaments relax progressively throughout pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Your center of gravity shifts, and that can influence posture, balance, and movement—all of which can contribute to back pain.

Q: How can I prevent back pain?
Maintain good posture. Women tend to lean forward with the weight of pregnancy. Instead, lean back a little and tilt your pelvis forward to help protect your back. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and a pillow behind your back. Lift with your legs. Leave your high heels in the closet and wear flat, comfortable shoes. Sleeping with pillows to support you often helps too.

Stay active. Walk for 30 minutes every day. Consider taking a yoga class. Staying strong does a lot to prevent back pain in pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about which type of exercise program is right for you.

Q: How can I relieve back pain during pregnancy?
There is no “cure,” but simple self-care strategies can help. Hot and cold compresses, massages, and warm baths often bring relief. Part of what is tricky during pregnancy is that few medications are safe, so managing pain this way is rarely an option. When people need extra help, we can refer them to a physical therapist or chiropractor who can provide guidance on specific techniques they can use to improve their condition.

Q: Is it ever dangerous?
Back pain shouldn’t come as a surprise during pregnancy, but you should not ignore it—especially if it is severe or accompanied by other symptoms. If you’re worried or not sure, contact your doctor.

BID-Plymouth
275 Sandwich Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
(508) 746-2000

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