San Diego, California - Back pain is a common complaint for pregnant women. As you gain weight, your center of gravity shifts forward. To avoid falling forward you compensate by leaning back, which can strain the muscles in your lower back.

Laura Damrow, certified nurse midwife at Mayo Clinic Health System in Tomah, says, "In general, good posture can help alleviate back pain.Stand up straight, hold your chest high while keeping your shoulders back and relaxed, and don’t lock your knees.” She offers these other tips:

  • Good posture also means sitting with care. Choose a chair that supports your back or place a small pillow behind your lower back. You may even want to prop your feet on a low stool.
  • Regular physical activity can keep your back strong and might relieve pain during pregnancy. Gentle activities, such as walking, are okay for pregnant women. For every day footwear, choose low-heeled — not flat — shoes with good arch support.

  • Stretching your back can also be beneficial. Rest on your hands and knees with your head in line with your back. Pull in your stomach, rounding your back slightly. Hold for several seconds, and then relax your stomach and back, keeping your back as flat as possible. Gradually work up to 10 repetitions.
  • At night, sleep on your side as opposed to your back. Keep one or both knees bent. You may also want to use pregnancy or support pillows between your bent knees, under your abdomen and behind your back. Applying a heating pad or ice pack, as well as massaging sore areas may also help relieve discomfort.

Damrow adds,“If you have severe back pain or pain that lasts more than two weeks, talk with your health care provider. He or she might recommend medication such as acetaminophen or other treatments.”