How to deal with lower back pain after pregnancy

profile picture of Dr Ade Adeyini
Lead Physician, Bupa Health Clinics
08 March 2024
Next review due March 2027

During pregnancy your body changes to support your growing baby. These include hormonal changes and weight gain. These changes might lead to lower back pain during and after pregnancy. In this article, I talk about pregnancy related lower back pain. I also provide ways to manage lower back pain after pregnancy.

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What causes lower back pain in pregnancy?

During pregnancy your body goes through many changes. Some of these changes may cause lower back pain. Below are some changes that happen in your body.

  • Hormonal changes. Your body releases hormones that loosen your joints and ligaments. These hormones can also cause weight gain.
  • Weight changes. Carrying extra weight during pregnancy strains the lower back.
  • Vascular (blood vessel) changes. Reduced blood flow may cause lack of oxygen to your nerves, causing pain.

If you have back pain during pregnancy, you may also continue to have back pain after pregnancy. Gaining more weight than normal during pregnancy may also lead to lower back pain. Most people gain 10 to 12.5kg in a full term pregnancy. Gentle exercise and healthy eating can help you stay at a healthy weight.

Does epidural cause lower back pain?

An epidural is a type of pain relief that may be offered to you during labour. It is an injection of anaesthetic into your lower back which blocks all feeling from your waist down.

There has been some research into whether epidural injections cause lower back pain. But there is no strong evidence to show having an epidural causes lower back pain after delivery.

What helps lower back pain after pregnancy?

Lower back pain can make things difficult, but there are ways you can manage it.

Staying active

After pregnancy, you should be able to do gentle exercise if you had a healthy pregnancy. Staying still too long can make back pain worse. Staying active by doing gentle exercise if you’re able to can help. These can be exercises you can do with your baby such as walking and swimming.

If you had no complications during pregnancy, you can start doing the following exercises.

  • Walks, pelvic floor exercises and gentle exercises a few days after giving birth
  • More high impact exercises such as running six weeks after giving birth

Pain relief

You can take over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen for back pain. Paracetamol on its own isn't recommended for the treatment of lower back pain. Ibuprofen is safe to take when breastfeeding. You may find that taking painkillers before exercise can reduce your pain and help you to remain more active.

You should only take painkillers for a short period of time. This should only be a few days. Make sure you follow the guidance on the patient information leaflet enclosed.

Taking over-the-counter medicines for too long can have risks. If your pain hasn’t improved within a week of taking painkillers, you should seek medical advice.

Looking after your emotional wellbeing

Having lower back pain can be frustrating. But trying to stay positive in how you manage it can help you to recover faster. Sometimes after pregnancy, people struggle with their mental health. This might include postnatal depression as well as other conditions.

There are treatments available for conditions such as postnatal depression. This includes antidepressants and talking therapies. If you are worried about your mood, speak to your GP.


Physiotherapy aims to improve the movement and function of joints and muscles. Physiotherapists use different techniques to help with lower back pain. They also offer advice on how to look after your back. You can ask your GP for a referral.

Psychological therapy

You may benefit from some psychological support for lower back pain.

Your doctor may suggest a talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) alongside exercise. This can help you to understand and change the way you react to and cope with pain.

You may also find relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, useful.

Preventing lower back pain

If you had lower back pain during pregnancy then you may be more likely to have it after pregnancy. Things that might prevent lower back pain during pregnancy include gentle exercises and using a pregnancy support pillow.

Lower back pain after pregnancy might happen due to the changes your body goes through. Gentle exercises and looking after your mental health may help.

If you are having severe lower back pain, it’s important to see a GP who can advise on treatment.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

profile picture of Dr Ade Adeyini
Dr Ade Adeniyi
Lead Physician, Bupa Health Clinics



Rasheda Begum, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

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