Back Pain and Pregnancy - When Should You Sound the Alarm?

Pregnancy affects multiple organs in a woman’s body and the back is no exception.


Here are a few facts about the back during pregnancy:

The shape of your back changes (inward curve, aka lordosis) during pregnancy as well as your center of gravity because of hormones and chemicals in the body.


As the baby grows larger, the lordosis increases and right before the baby is born, your walking (or gait) is wide-base and you “waddle” as you walk.

image credit: Hayden Luke

  • The joints in the lower spine become loose, unstable which could lead to muscle strain
  • The kidneys are in the back of the body near the spine

When should a pregnant woman become concerned about back pain?


When the pain from the back radiates to the front of the uterus. This could indicate contractions and indicates a phone call to your provider and possible trip to the hospital to be checked, especially if you are in the late second and early third trimester.


Preterm contractions are sneaky and sometimes masks itself as low back pain when in truth, it is preterm labor.

When back pain is associated with burning or painful urination. It could be a sign of a urinary track infection, that if untreated, can cause preterm contractions and a condition called pyelonephritis which means both the kidneys and bladder are infected.


Pyelonephritis is extremely dangerous because if untreated, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis which means all the body systems are infected.

Common sense strategies including wearing low-heeled shoes, not lifting heavy objects and sleeping on your left side rather than flat on your back helps to reduce non-high-risk pregnancy back pain.

While most back pain during pregnancy is usually not high-risk related, being aware of potential problems empowers you to reduce complications, before they spin out of control.



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