Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints that many women face during pregnancy.
Lower back pain that appears in early pregnancy will continue for a while due to hormone levels, posture changes, and uterus growth.
For pregnant women, such pain affects sleep quality, which also disrupts physical activity during the day. But it is often more painful when changing positions, for example, by switching from a lying to a standing position.
Lower back pain in early pregnancy is usually related to normal physiological changes and doesn’t affect either the fetus or the pregnancy.
In rare cases, it may be a sign of more serious conditions, such as kidney and bladder infections, or sciatica. So pay special attention to any other symptoms you may experience.
When Does Back Pain Start In Pregnancy?
Back pain often begins before the sixth week of pregnancy.
About half of women start feeling a little pain in their lower backs and lower abdomens already from the few days after conception.
Early pregnancy refers to the 1st month (0w1d) until the end of week 15 (15w6d), which is the 4th month of pregnancy.
Your last period is considered as the first week of pregnancy, even if you were not yet pregnant, because it is still before ovulation, and naturally, there is no fertilization yet.
During the first two weeks of pregnancy, about the fifth day after conception, the fertilized egg finally reaches the uterus, where it attaches itself to its wall. This process can be accompanied by spotting – one of the first signs of pregnancy – and, not always, by mild lower back pain.
For many women, lower back pain can be another possible early indication of pregnancy. If you feel that the aching area is slightly different and your period doesn’t occur even after the expected date, associated with morning sickness, fatigue, breast tenderness, cravings or other symptoms, you may also be pregnant.
But actually, because this pain is similar to what you might feel just before and during your period, it can be difficult to recognize that you are pregnant. The only way to be sure is to have a pregnancy test.
What Causes Lower Back Pain In Early Pregnancy?
The cause of back pain in early pregnancy is different from that caused by weight gain and back overload at a later stage. It’s an invisible change, but it’s actually due to pregnancy-related hormones.
The ovaries at first, and later the placenta, are the main producers of pregnancy-related hormones that regulate the environment of a woman’s body in order to elevate a baby in her womb. These are essential to create and maintain the necessary conditions for a successful pregnancy.
Many women experience pain and discomfort in the pelvis and lower back during the first trimester. This is mainly due to a hormone called relaxin, which becomes detectable from the first few weeks of pregnancy and is produced all over the pregnancy.
This hormone relaxes the mother’s muscles, joints, and ligaments to promote uterus growth, make room for the fetus, and also physically facilitate childbirth in late pregnancy. Relaxin affects are more focused around the pelvic zone; softening the joints that connect the pelvis to the spine, which can often cause pain in this area.
Softer joints can also decrease stability and some women may notice that it is more difficult to maintain balance.
Lower back pain can also have an impact because the pelvis moves more than it did before pregnancy.
When To Call A Doctor?
In more serious cases, lower back pain in early pregnancy may be a consequence of kidney and bladder infections, or even sciatica.
Bladder infections are the most common type of urinary tract infection that is usually caused by bacteria. If not treated for too long, a urinary tract infection can affect the bladder, kidneys, and the tubes that connect them. It will also cause lower back pain, which requires contacting your doctor for advice.
Kidneys can also be affected during pregnancy due to hormonal changes in your body that actually cause weakness in the urinary tract. This makes urination more difficult, the urines remain and stagnate in the bladder, which can increase the risk of bacteria production and, thus, urinary tract infections.
Sciatica, which may be caused by a hernia or disc inflammation in the lower part of the spine, is a rare condition that affects only about 1% of pregnant women.
When pain in the lower back radiates to the buttocks and legs, it is often confused with real sciatica. If you have sciatica, leg pain will usually be more intense than lower back pain. In any case, do not hesitate to tell your doctor if you think you may have sciatica.
If lower back pain persists in early pregnancy, associated with bad signs such as vaginal bleeding, the most worrying thing to consider is a possible miscarriage.
Call your doctor immediately if any of the following situations apply:
- Severe lower back pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Lower abdominal pain
Tips To Ease Lower Back Pain
As we know, medication use is very limited during pregnancy.
However, these simple tips can be useful and will help to relieve and prevent increased lower back pains.
The most important thing that you can do is rest. Sleeping well during pregnancy is also the key to wellbeing!
Use a pillow to lie sideways (preferably on the left side), place it between your knees, and sleep.
Use a hard mattress and avoid soft beds.
The easiest way to relieve pain is to warm your body!
Heat can provide temporary relief.
Soak in a bathtub with hot water or place a bag of hot water or a heating pad on your back.
This will not solve your lower back pain but a gentle, slow back massage and its surroundings will increase your skin temperature and improve your blood circulation, which will relieve your muscle tension and help to ease the pain.
An adapted lumbopelvic support belt is not only useful in correcting pelvic distortion but can also help you keep your baby in place.
To get your own pregnancy support belt, we suggest checking out the SurgPrep Pregnancy Support Kit.
Avoid sitting in the same position for prolonged periods of time, avoid sudden movements, and don’t lift heavy objects by bending your spine.
Instead, bend your knees, sit down and lift the weight.
Wear comfortable shoes with no high heels in order not to worsen your body’s imbalance.
Although rest is important, regular physical activity that is adapted to pregnancy is also recommended.
Do stretching, walking, and yoga exercises early in the morning for at least 20 minutes.
Swimming (preferably on your back), and practice daily pelvic tilting exercises and four-leg stretch to improve flexibility.
Have a balanced diet to avoid excessive weight gain.
A reasonable weight gain is estimated at between 22-26lbs throughout the pregnancy or just over 2lbs per month.
To make your kidneys work, you need to drink plenty of water, be sure to enjoy some fluids, and limit coffee, tea, and soda consumption.
It is also important to avoid stress and anxiety, which can worsen your lower back pain during early pregnancy.
Do some relaxing exercises like meditation, or even nose & mouth breathing.
Lower back pain during a woman’s pregnancy can be caused by many actions, inactions, diet, and health reasons.
Paying close attention to what your body is telling you, and consulting with a medical professional is highly advised.
Adding a healthy diet, good quality sleep, stretching, and a back brace will all help reduce the pain and discomfort of back pain during pregnancy.
For more information on other pregnancy topics, check out our other blogs.