Lower body pain during pregnancy can probably blame upon growing uterus and hormonal changes for aching back. Your expanding uterus shifts your center of gravity and stretches out and weakens your abdominal muscles, changing your posture and putting strain on your back. It may also cause back pain if it’s pressing on a nerve. In addition, the extra weight you’re carrying means more work for your muscles and increased stress on your joints, which is why your back may feel worse at the end of the day.
Learn breathing, yoga, massage, and other techniques to ease labor pain.
What’s more, hormonal changes in pregnancy loosen your joints and the ligaments that attach your pelvic bones to your spine. This can make you feel less stable and cause pain when you walk, stand, sit for long periods, roll over in bed, get out of a low chair or the tub, bend, or lift things.
You’re not alone. As many as three-quarters of pregnant women experience back pain at some point. Most often the pain appears in the later months or becomes worse as pregnancy progresses. It may also persist after the baby arrives, but postpartum back pain usually resolves in a few months.
The good news is that there’s no link between back pain and pregnancy outcome.
What kinds of low back pain are common in pregnancy?
Experts describe two common patterns of low back pain in pregnancy: Lumbar pain occurs in the area of the lumbar vertebrae in your lower back, and posterior pelvic pain is felt in the back of your pelvis. Some women have symptoms of both types of low back pain.
Lumbar pain is like the low back pain you may have experienced before you were pregnant. You feel it over and around your spine approximately at the level of your waist. You might also have pain that radiates to your legs. Sitting or standing for long periods of time and lifting usually make it worse, and it tends to be more intense at the end of the day.
Even more pregnant women have posterior pelvic pain, which is felt lower on your body than lumbar pain. You may feel it deep inside the buttocks, on one or both sides or the back of your thighs. It may be triggered by activities such as walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of a tub or a low chair, rolling over in bed, or twisting and lifting.
Positions in which you’re bent at the waist – such as sitting in a chair and leaning forward while working at a desk – may make posterior pelvic pain worse. Women with posterior pelvic pain are also more likely to have pain over their pubic bone.
Could it be sciatica?
When low back pain radiates into the buttocks and thighs, it’s often confused with sciatica – a condition that’s actually relatively uncommon. True sciatica, which can be caused by a herniated or bulging disk in the lower part of the spine, affects only about 1 percent of pregnant women.
If you have sciatica, your leg pain will usually be more severe than your back pain. You’re likely to feel it below the knee as well, and it may even radiate to your foot and toes. And you’ll probably feel a tingling, pins-and-needles sensation in your legs or possibly some numbness.
With severe sciatica, you may have numbness in your groin or genital area as well. You may even find that it’s hard to urinate or have a bowel movement.
If you think you have sciatica, be sure to see your practitioner. Call her immediately if you feel a loss of sensation or weakness in one or both legs or a loss of sensation in your groin, bladder, or anus (which may make it hard to pee or have a bowel movement, or – alternatively – cause incontinence).