Pregnancy Pains: Upper Back Pain In Pregnancy
upper back pain in pregnancy

Many women associate lower back pain with pregnancy. Your tummy grows out in front, which puts pressure on your back, right?

Well you may also experience upper or mid back pain when you are pregnant. 

Many of the reasons for experiencing any back pain in pregnancy are no cause for concern and can generally be treated by your maternal health physiotherapist, however it is always worth mentioning it to your GP, Obstetrician or Midwife just to be sure!

upper back pain in pregnancy

Is It Because Your Back Muscles Are Weak?

There are a few main culprits when it comes to what’s to blame for your upper back pain in pregnancy. Some common reasons include

  • Hormones (Yep, again…!) 
  • Breast growth and changes
  • More rounded shoulders to account for the breast changes
  • Changes to your centre of gravity 
  • Changes to your ligaments, pelvis and supporting structures

But yes, despite all these changes, you may also have weakness throughout the muscles that support your upper back, neck and shoulder blades.

Will It Go Away Once Baby Has Arrived?

Likely not! Upper back pain in pregnancy is not one of those things that is likely to subside once baby arrives.

It is that time there where your upper back is under the most amounts of stress due to:

  • Nursing your baby (breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby)
  • Leaning over the cot/bassinet
  • Leaning over when changing nappies
  • Crouching over during play time on the mat

If you put off seeking help for your upper back pain, it may begin to refer up into your neck and cause you headaches.

What Can You Do About It?

Seek help!

It is important to not put things off and it will likely get worse over time or just continue to nag you!

There are also exercises that you can try at home, no fancy equipment needed (maybe just a broomstick!)

These exercises focus on loosening the joints and muscles of the upper and mid back, as well as the lower back. Most of these should feel quite good, however they are not always suitable for everyone. Stop if you experience any pain or discomfort and speak to your Maternal Health Physio for more advice and exercises tailored to you. 


Broomstick Stretches

Aim for 10 repetitions to each side with the 3 different broomstick stretches.

Half W Mermaid Stretches

Aim for 3 repetitions of each (3 x mermaid, 3 x threading the needle) before swapping your legs around and repeating to the other side.

You may also want to try some simple and gentle exercises to help strengthen these areas (even if you are already strong, it isn’t going to hurt to do a few more!)

*Try and keep a neutral spine.

As Physio Bec has found, this is increasingly challenging when you have a growing tummy in front!

Again, stop if you experience any pain or discomfort, these exercises may not be quite right for you.


Pilates Push Ups

Aim for 10 repetitions. You can build up to 2-3 sets of these. 

Pilates Triceps

Aim for 10 repetitions. You can build up to 2-3 sets of these.


Aim for 10 repetitions. You can build up to 2-3 sets of these.

What Can Physiotherapy Offer?

Your Maternal Health Physiotherapist will assess your posture, strength, area of pain and then offer some safe treatment strategies to help relieve the pain. 

Treatment can include things such as 

  • Massage
  • Joint mobilisation and manipulation
  • Posture education and training
  • Taping
  • Safe exercises  


There are unfortunately some treatment methods that we shy away from while you are pregnant for the safety of both you and your baby. 

You can find out more about them here .

Can’t Lay On Your Tummy Anymore? 

No need to worry, we have belly pillows which allow you to lay on your stomach for treatment (see picture below). 

If this isn’t comfortable, your physiotherapist can treat you laying on your side or sitting in a chair.

Make sure to look after yourself and your changing body.

If you’d like to seek advice and treatment from your Maternal Health Physiotherapist before baby arrives, make an appointment online here.

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