Low back pain in pregnancy and the post-natal period

A common misconception in pregnancy is that back pain is normal and nothing can be done to help it.

The good new is, there are many strategies that can be used to effectively and safely treat back pain in pregnancy or after birth.

What is it?

Pain may be felt in the lower back region, one sided or both, and may possibly radiate into the buttocks.


What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Pain may present as a dull ache that becomes worse as the day goes on

  • Pain may be sharp and intermittent and be related to movement

Why does this occur?

  • If you have previous back pain or back injuries you are more likely to experience back pain in pregnancy

  • Changes to your posture during pregnancy can place more load on some structures

  • Hormones can change ligament tension

  • Increased pressure on your pelvis and back due to the growth and position of your baby

  • After birth - repetitive tasks that you do with a newborn such as changing, feeding. bathing, dressing and rocking can involve repetitive strain on the lower back joints.

What can make my pain worse?

  • Sitting and standing still for long periods

  • Sudden change of direction

  • Prolonged walking

  • Bending and lifting heavy objects /children

  • Housework

  • High impact exercise (e.g. running and jumping activities)

  • Repetitive bending tasks with a newborn

What can be done to help me?

While symptoms can be similar from person to person the underlying cause can be very different and thus treatment must be tailored to the individual. Assessment by an experienced Women’s Health Physiotherapist is a must.

If you have any additional symptoms such as:

  • night pain

  • pain that is severe and constant

  • pain that mimics abdominal tightening or contractions

  • constant pins and needles or numbness down the legs or in the saddle region

  • generally feeling unwell

  • weakness in the arms or legs

We advise you to seek medical attention immediately via your GP, specialist or an emergency department.

What might my treatment may involve?

  • Education about appropriate postural changes or positions to relieve pain

  • Specific exercise program to strengthen postural and core muscles

  • Expert hands on treatment to relieve stiff painful joints

  • External support such as Tubigrip to provide low back and abdominal muscle support.

  • We may suggest you join our group physio exercise classes for ongoing supervised exercise once you initial symptoms are well managed.