Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: Some degree of back pain is almost a certainty during pregnancy, just from the added weight and distortion of your anatomy! There may not be a lot to do about it, except lying down and resting in a comfortable position (preferably on the left side). There are many massage therapists who can still give an excellent massage during pregnancy, thanks to a special pillow with a cut out for your belly.
During my pregnancies, I had back pain and even some nerve entrapment in my upper back from my breasts being so big. It was a sharp, shooting pain that went down the length of the nerve, which in this case was my arm. You can also get numbness or tingling in your fingers or in your toes, depending on which nerves are involved.
My ob-gyn gave me a referral to a physical therapist. This was enormously helpful. The best part was the physical therapy office had a pool. I floated in that pool as often as I could. The only downside to swimming while pregnant is getting back out of the pool. You feel like you weigh 700 pounds.
When to call the doctor or midwife: You should let your doctor or midwife know if you are experiencing back pain during pregnancy. If the back pain is severe or if you are feeling numbness, call your doctor or midwife right away. Back pain can be a signal of premature labor.
Other symptoms of premature labor include vaginal discharge, contractions, abdominal pain, and menstrual like cramps. You should call your doctor or midwife right away if you think you think you are in preterm labor.
—Kristin C. Lyle, MD, FAAP, a mom of three girls and disaster medical director at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, both in Little Rock