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Upper Back Pain during Pregnancy

Chandramita Bora Jun 18, 2019
Upper back pain during pregnancy is quite common, especially in the third trimester. A woman gains considerable weight during this stage, which puts excess pressure on her back muscles. Find out more how to deal with this problem..
The surging levels of pregnancy hormones, coupled with the amount of weight put on during the later half of pregnancy can present several physical discomforts, back pain being one of them. Expectant mothers usually experience pain in the lower back region, which is quite common during this period.
But in the later stage, i.e., during the third trimester, pregnant women can suffer from upper back pain, as the uterus reaches its maximum size. This stage of pregnancy is marked by drastic changes that take place to prepare the body for childbirth.
Let's find out more about the factors that can cause back pain during this period, and how to minimize the pain with the help of some simple lifestyle modifications.

What Causes Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

» The rising levels of pregnancy hormones relax and loosen the muscles and ligaments of the lower back and abdominal area, to accommodate the baby and facilitate childbirth.
But this compromises the stability of the pelvis and the back, and as a result, the muscles of these areas have to work harder to maintain balance. The overworked back muscles can get easily fatigued, which in turn can cause back pain.
» A woman can gain up to 25% more weight during pregnancy, which adds to the problem by putting more pressure on the back muscles. This weakens the back muscles and causes pain in the lower or upper back region.
» The growing size of the baby and the uterus changes the center of gravity of the body by shifting it forward, which places more pressure on the back muscles. This extra pressure can strain these muscles and cause back pain.
» Another important cause of upper back pain during pregnancy could be the enlargement of the breasts. The increasing size and weight of the breasts during pregnancy can strain the ribs, neck, and the back, besides pulling the shoulder down.

How to Relieve and Prevent Upper Back Pain

Upper and lower back pain during pregnancy are quite common. But both the conditions can be managed to a great extent with the help of some simple measures that are explained below.

Maintain a Good Posture

Maintaining good posture is one of the most important steps to prevent back pain during pregnancy. Pregnant women should always stand and sit at an upright position by keeping the back as straight as possible.
However, they should not sit or stand in a single position for too long. Changing position at regular intervals is very important for relieving and preventing pregnancy-related back pain. If the feet are kept at a slightly elevated position while sitting, it can help a lot in reducing the pain. Pregnant women should never cross their legs while sitting.

Maintain a Proper Sleeping Position

Along with siting and standing with care, pregnant women should maintain a proper sleeping position.
Instead of sleeping on the back, they should sleep on the side with one or both the knees slightly bent. This can help relieve the pressure on the back muscles. Pregnancy support pillows can also be used for this purpose, or you can place one pillow between the knees and another under your abdomen while sleeping.
This can help maintain a neutral spine position. While getting up from the bed, first roll on to one side, and then push yourself to a sitting position before standing up.

Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects

Lifting heavy objects should be strictly avoided during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters. Even while lifting light objects, one should never bend at the waist. An expectant mother should always bend her knees, but keep the back straight, while picking up something from the ground.

Wear Comfortable Footwear

Always wear footwear that can distribute your body weight evenly. Women should avoid wearing high-heeled shoes during pregnancy. Low-heeled and flat shoes that can provide adequate support, besides distributing the body weight evenly, are good for pregnant women.

Exercise and Massage

There are several exercises that expectant mothers can do to strengthen their back muscles. You can talk to your physician or health care provider to know more about the exercises that can be performed during pregnancy.

Apply Cold and Warm Compress

For temporary back pain relief, a cold or warm compress can be used. These can be used alternately to get relief from the pain. Medications like acetaminophen can also be taken for upper back pain relief, but only under the supervision of a physician or health care provider.
Apart from the aforementioned preventive measures, pregnant women should wear good supportive bras, and loose and comfortable clothing during this period. Though back pain during pregnancy is quite common, it should not be taken lightly. Severe back pain needs to be properly evaluated and treated by consulting a physician.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.