Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy: Causes, Prevention & Home Treatment

Pregnancy is one of the most joyful experiences for women. But it takes a long walk to get over these days. There are hard moments like having “PAIN”, especially back pain.It is very common to have back pain, headache and other unusual symptoms during pregnancy especially in the early stages. Due to some hormonal changes, the body becomes tender and stretchy to prepare you for the labour. This can add extra pressure to the joints resulting in back pain.

10 Causes of Upper Back Pain in Pregnancy :

Bone metabolism: 

Major changes in bone metabolism happen to fill the demands of the growing fetus.So, calcium absorption increases in the body,due in part to increase vitamin D.Calcium is released from the maternal skeleton due to increased resorption. This results in loss of bone materials from the maternal body during pregnancy that results in excessive loss of calcium and back pain happens.

Arthritis : 

Many mothers with rheumatoid arthritis go into excessive calcium and vitamin D that causes back pain during pregnancy. 

Hormonal changes: 

There are many hormonal changes during pregnancy. A hormone called “relaxin” releases that loosens the joints that causes joint pain and stretch and back pain. Besides, during early pregnancy, there is secretion of hCG hormones.

Weight gain: 

A pregnant mother who has average weight before getting pregnant should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. This excessive weight gain adds extra pressure to joints that may cause back pain or other joint pain.It is quite normal.

Poor posture: 

Pain in the upper back is usually the result of poor posture and muscle overuse during pregnancy. The first bone of the upper back starts from the base of the neck, and the 12th bone ends just below the ribcage. So,the appearance of upper back pain is quite reasonable during pregnancy.

Size of the uterus: 

During the 12th week of pregnancy, the placenta gets larger because of the extra hormone production. It is needed to sustain the pregnancy.A pregnant woman’s uterus is the size of a grapefruit and completely fills the pelvis. It may cause pain in the abdomen region and in the back. 


It is a completely  hereditary condition where the pubic articulation and the pelvic area of the pregnant mother are too soft and overly stretched. This results in haemorrhages in the area, and affected people also have poor coordination of movements while moving or doing other work. It is another reason for back pain during pregnancy. 

Pregnancy associated arthritis:

 This is a rare form of osteoporosis that begins with pregnancy and multiple vertebral fractures during the second and third trimester mainly. The cause is still unknown but may relate to excessive bone loss.

Muscle separation: 

When the uterus expands, two parallel sheets of muscles (the rectus abdominis muscles), which run from the rib cage to the pubic bone, may separate along the center seam in the abdominal region. This separation may fasten back pain during pregnancy. 


Emotional stress is another  cause of muscle tension in the back,for which, maybe pregnant women can feel back pain or back spasms. You may find that you experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy.

Top 03 Tips to Prevent Upper Back Pain In Early Pregnancy:

  • When you are in need of  picking something up from the ground while standing , use your legs to squat rather than bend over.
  • Don’t wear high-heeled shoes because it pushes your hips anteriorly. Choose shoes having low heels with good arch support.Remember, as hormones loosen joints, you may need to buy a larger shoe size to give yourself comfort. 
  •  Don’t sleep on your back. Sleep on your side.

Where does back pain usually occur during pregnancy? 

Pregnancy back pain can occur anywhere in the back but mostly occurs where the pelvis meets the spinal column. Means, in the sacroiliac joint.

Treatment of Severe Upper Back Pain in Pregnancy:


Regular physical  exercise gives strength to muscles and boosts body flexibility. That can make you relax  a bit and abate  the stress on your spine. There are some safe exercises for  pregnant womens like walking, swimming , cycling and so on. Your personal doctor or physical therapist can recommend exercises to strengthen your back and abdomen that can decrease back pain of a pregnant woman. 

Heat and cold: 

Applying heat and cold to your back can really help you. If your doctor agrees, you can  start by putting cold compresses (such as a bag of ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel) in the painful area for up to 20 minutes several times a day or according to your need. You should not continue applying cold things. But you should not apply cold things continuously.  After two or three days,  you should switch to heat. Put a heating pad or hot water bottle on the painful back area. But be careful about applying hot things in abdomen.Excess heat in the umbilicus area can cause abortion.


Posture is another thing to change to prevent back pain during pregnancy. Gawking strains your spine and back region. So, use proper posture when working, sitting or sleeping. You can use a pillow between the knees which will take stress off your back. When you are sitting at a desk, place a rolled-up towel behind your back for support,rest your feet on a pile of books or stool and sit up straight, with your shoulders back which will really help you. When you are standing, pull your hips forward and your shoulders back and you may tend to lean back to compensate for your growing  large belly. Wearing a support belt may also help after or before your pregnancy to reduce back pain. Besides, you should  stretch your body regularly.


Your back pain can be related to stress and if so, talking to a trusted friend or counselor may be helpful.


It is a form of Chinese technique in which thin needles are inserted into  skin at several locations. Studies depict that acupuncture can be effective in relieving low back pain during pregnancy or after pregnancy. If you are interested, you can talk to your doctor.


If it is performed correctly, chiropractic manipulation of the spine can be safe during pregnancy, but talk to your doctor before seeking chiropractic treatment for sure.

Is it normal to have backache during pregnancy? 

It is very natural to get backache or back pain during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimester. During pregnancy, the ligaments in your body naturally become softer, tender and stretch to prepare you for labor due to secretion of relaxin. So you can feel extra strain on the joints of your lower back and pelvis, which is the main reason for back pain during pregnancy. 

When should I seek help from a doctor?

Though it is quite natural,if your symptoms are moderate to severe, and are persistent or prolonged, call your doctor immediately and you should follow the doctor’s immediate advice or medical care. Though  different people feel pain in different ways according to their body analgesic system, it is safe to seek help from a doctor in the long term.

Wrapping Up: 

In acme, we should not take backache for granted. Though it’s a quite natural phenomena for pregnant women, one can mediocre this by taking extra care like nutritious food supplementations and calcium and vit -D rich food. We may not prevent it totally but mediocre the suffering of a pregnant mother.  At least we can ease her a little.

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