The 40 weeks of pregnancy are full of joyous moments, but there are often times a mommy-to-be’s comforting thoughts about her new baby can drift to her aching back. Weight gain in the belly area puts stress on your lower back, and the added tension causes vertebrae to bunch up and crowd.
If you experience back pain in pregnancy, stick to safe over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and avoid ibuprofen (Motrin). Massage, acupuncture and safe exercise programs are also helpful.

Follow these 7 strategies to help prevent and manage back pain in pregnancy:

1. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs

Sleeping in this position allows your spine to rest in a natural position. Try sleeping on your left side in pregnancy to enhance blood flow.

2. Try prenatal massage

Massage in general is good for anyone who has back pain. Even when you are pregnant, it’s a safe treatment option.

3. Choose comfortable shoes with support

Stay away from high heels or flats. Shoes with good inner arch support are best.

4. Maintain good posture to reduce strain in your lower back

While pregnant, you should carry your shoulders back when sitting or walking. Use lumbar support when you are in a chair; good options include a semi-deflated beach ball or rolled up towel. Being pregnant changes your center of gravity and increases back discomfort.

5. Avoid lifting heavy objects

If you do lift, bend with your hips and legs—not your back! Don’t bend over and lift with your spine. As you gain weight, how much you can pick up and carry may be limited. Listen to your body and use caution if you feel you’re straining.

6. Log your pain to learn what improves it and what makes it worse

See your healthcare provider post-birth if the pain is still present. You may have a separate injury or condition that needs care.

7. Strengthen your back with expert-approved exercises

Walking and swimming are two good examples that will help strengthen you overall and help you control pregnancy weight gain. Swimming gives you buoyancy so you’re not carrying the weight on your joints but still offers muscle-toning exercise.

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