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Back Pain During Pregnancy: Common, But NOT Normal

Updated: Jan 18


prenatal yoga instructor assists pregnant woman with pose for backache and back pain
Prenatal Yoga can help with back pain and other aches and pains of pregnancy

Let's talk about one of the not-so-glamorous sides of pregnancy: back pain. Most people, including your mother-in-law, your sister, and even your Obstetrician, will tell you that back pain during pregnancy is to be expected. “Everybody has back pain as they grow a baby. You’ll survive.” As a bodyworker of 22 years, and a midwife, I have found that this type of advice is not helpful and is actually completely incorrect.


Because here’s the truth: Back pain in pregnancy is common, but definitely NOT normal.

That pain is actually your body's way of letting you know that she needs some additional support as she grows a whole person and lugs it around. So, what are some of the underlying issues your body might be telling you about and what does she need to make it better?


1. The Issue: Your Body is Out of Balance

What Your Body Needs: The Miles Circuit, Prenatal Yoga, and/or Webster Chiropractic

The Miles Circuit is every doula or midwife’s go-to for generalized back pain and/or overall body pain during pregnancy. Developed by a doula, these three simple poses allow muscles to relax and lengthen, and BONUS—helps your baby find a position that is more comfortable for you. Prenatal yoga is a game-changer. You might not rock the perfect warrior pose, but you'll conquer the art of balancing as well as deepening your ability to relax. Remember, the goal while pregnant is not to twist into a pretzel, but to gently stretch those muscles that are working overtime to support your growing baby, while practicing settling into your body in a way that can also be helpful during birth. Check local yoga studios or search online for prenatal yoga classes near you or a good online offering. Chiropractic is a safe and effective way to address more structural (skeletal) issues that can develop as your body works to accommodate your growing pregnancy. Ask trusted friends or like-minded support groups/Facebook groups for recommendations for a Webster-trained Chiropractor, or read reviews on Google to help select a well-trained and trusted careprovider. Many people report that chiropractic not only helped relieve pain during pregnancy, but helped make birth go more smoothly as everything was in alignment and ready to go. There are so many good recommendations in this area. Parent Facebook groups are a great resource to find a quality practitioner (or ask your BWS Doula! we love to refer out to our favorite folks!)


2. The Issue: Your Back Aches by the End of the Day


What Your Body Needs: Better Shoes, Less Activities, Feet Up the Wall and Massage


Better Shoes: High heels? Nope! Not the time for that. Even for formal affairs while pregnant, there are so many cute options that are a better choice while pregnant. Embrace flats and treat yourself to some comfy low kicks. Your back will thank you!

Less Activity: All of our bodies are masterful at letting us know when we have overdone things… we are just not all masterful at listening, much less doing what needs to be done. What needs to be done is less doing. Really prioritize the things that are the most important, and practice letting go of the rest. Or call in favors for those things that really need to be done, but are just too much for you at this point in your pregnancy.

Legs Up The Wall: This seems too simple to be as effective as it is—but it truly is! All you do is lay on your back on the floor or the bed with your buttocks as close the wall as you can get them. Then gently raise your legs up the wall, holding them straight with your heels against the wall. Practice letting all your leg and hip muscles soften as you rest in this supported semi-inverted position. BONUS—your pelvic floor softens in this position as well as hip and leg muscles, so you are prepping your body for birth as well.


Prenatal Massage: Finding a good prenatal massage therapist is like striking gold. And your investment will continue paying you back throughout your pregnancy. Prenatal massage therapists often use special pillows and props so you can settle into deeply relaxing postures while they gently and thoroughly address every ache and pain in your body. Ask your friends who they recommend! We have several good recommendations, but we definitely love Dayton Prenatal Massage at The Well: A Center for Women's Wellness. Visit them and tell them we sent you!


3. The Issue: You Are Exhausted Because You Just Can’t Get Comfortable to Sleep

What Your Body Needs: Lots of Different Pillows


Pillows of all sizes and heights are your new best friends. Sleeping can become an Olympic event during the later parts of pregnancy. Don’t be afraid to claim every pillow in the house, or invest in some new ones if need be. You'll find yourself crafting pillow fortresses—side pillows, back pillows, knee pillows—all in the quest for anything approximating a comfy sleeping position. One tried-and-true option is Super Woman Pose: Lie on your side with the top leg bent and thrown over a supportive pillow. You want to roll forward into the pillow with your leg as close to your chest as you can get it, and your whole body rolling into the pillow so all of your back-body muscles can fully relax. A long pillow that you can hug, or a second pillow for your upper body makes this three-quarter lie more comfortable. We like this one from Mom Cozy.


4. The Issue: You Feel Heavy and Not So Strong

What Your Body Needs: Baby Weightlifting 101


Weight Lifting: You're a mom-in-training, so why not add some weightlifting to your routine? Just remember that you are not going for power lifting awards right now. This is about lighter weights with more repetitions to build strong, lean muscle to support you through the rest of your pregnancy, your birth, and right on into lifting and carrying your new baby. To make sure you’re doing things correctly and making sure you don’t get injured, get some personal training in-person or online, and check with your care provider before starting a lifting routine. Again, we have a few folks we'd love to send your way! Just reach out to us for personal hand offs.


5. The Issue: You Have Something Going On And You’re Not Sure What It Is

What Your Body Needs: Someone Who Can Help You Get to the Root of the Problem


If you are dealing with back pain—or any kind of pain for that matter—PLEASE take your body’s messages seriously. Don't hesitate to seek professional help. If the first professional you turn to tells you that what you are experiencing is normal, take that with a grain of salt, and keep looking for someone who will take you seriously and help you find solutions.


If you try everything you know to do, and reach out to everyone you can think of for help

and you’re still dealing with unresolved issues, please feel free to reach out to us. We at BWS Doula Agency have over 25 combined years of experience with pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and we would love to help you in any way we can. Find this article helpful? Share with a pregnant friend or link on your social media accounts!



April Kline, Certified Midwife, IBCLC











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