Pregnancy & Back Pain – an Osteopath’s Guide
Here's a truth bomb, pregnancy is not all insta-perfection, with green smoothies and baby bump selfies...

It's a time for all sorts of new experiences and, unfortunately, waddling around with back pain is a common one. This is a subject close to my heart, as it's a condition I treat frequently, as well as something I've experienced firsthand with both pregnancies. I had to be especially vigilant looking after my back with my second pregnancy, where I was carrying out physical work both at home with a mischievous toddler and in my clinic treating.

During my third trimester, I thought it would be a great idea to take a five-hour road trip to Devon with a toddler who hates the car, after a full working day, having seen thirteen patients. One moment I'm treating a six and a half foot bodybuilder and the next, I'm contorting myself into the back of a car going at 70 mph trying to calm a tired upset toddler, with the latest episode of Paw Patrol. This, I would not recommend!

I would like to offer salvation to all the women who are struggling with the same predicament. Simple, empowering knowledge can mitigate some of the back pain that is inextricably linked with pregnancy. The more awareness we gain on our changing bodies and how to help ourselves, the easier the pregnancy can become.

Over the nine-month period, as mother and baby become heavier, the pelvis is like a weakening bridge, with more pressure being placed upon it. It's for this reason, it's important to do what you can early on. Preventative care is key.


The anatomy of the female pelvis is uniquely designed for childbirth. The hormone relaxin causes ligament laxity around the pelvis to help prepare the body for birth. This, however, can cause an imbalance e.g. Symphysis pubis dysfunction. It's important to keep a strong core to counterbalance this increased mobility.

As the uterus grows, abdominal muscles can separate causing problems in the lower back, known as Diastasis Recti. Specific postnatal exercises can however help this to heal.

As mentioned, pregnancy can be a stressful period. There is a direct link between emotional wellbeing and back pain. Part of the body's stress response is to tighten muscles e.g. in the lower back. Make sure you incorporate some relaxation/meditation when you can.

As the baby grows, the lumbar spine can be pulled forward forming a hyperlordosis. This changes the distribution of forces through the spine, causing symptoms.


The good news is that, depending on the presentation and severity of complaints, most symptoms relating to lower back pain will disappear after the birth. In the meantime, here is how you can help yourself.

Try and avoid the following:

Pushing heavy loads
Carrying on one side
Staying in one position (sitting or standing) for long periods of time
Holding a twisted position.

Best exercises to relieve pain:
– It's a good idea to have a consultation with a physical therapist.
-Be careful lying on your back after twenty weeks as this may affect the blood supply to the baby.
-Only do what feels comfortable for you and your baby.
-For each exercise-5 breaths inhale/exhale through the nose, repeat x 2/3

Downward Dog

Flexion over chair

Squeeze the gluteus muscles away from the thumbs, together x 10, individually x 15.

Engage the pelvic floor by drawing in the deep muscles above your pubic bone up to the navel, squeeze x 5 seconds, repeat x 10

Particularly good if you’re suffering from any sciatic pain.

Tilt the pelvis as if you were lifting it off the floor, then tilt it back down x 10

Gentle knee hugs

Rest and restore

Other top tips

-Pelvic brace

-Keep moving-swimming and walking are great
-Postural improvements- tuck your tail bone under and keep legs hip-distance apart. Make sure you squat instead of bending through the back.
-Pregnancy pillow

Words: Carla Pozner | | Follow @carlapozner


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