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The Question Every Mom-To-Be Is Asking: What Causes Pregnancy Back Pain?

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Because pregnancy is so uncomfortable, and sometimes mildly painful, it's hard to know what's cause for concern and what to just grunt your way through. Things like heartburn and constipation are annoying, to be sure, but if you change your diet or take a doctor-approved medication you should be fine. But when it comes to things like annoying, lingering back pain, should you grin and bear it or give your OB-GYN a call? Perhaps most importantly, what causes pregnancy back pain and what's the best way to alleviate the discomfort? When it comes to pain that's potentially debilitating, it's important to arm yourself with the facts (and expert advice).

The American Pregnancy Association (APA) blames pregnancy back pain on your growing baby. Some women may experience back pain at the onset of pregnancy, though, and that that can be attributed to previous pains or weight issues. Other possible causes could be a hormonal fluctuations, a shift in your center of gravity due to weight change, poor posture, or general stress, according to the APA. While back pain is a fairly common complaint among pregnant women — especially if you're doing anything physically strenuous or bending often — that doesn't mean you shouldn't take it seriously. Spine Health cites that 10 percent of the time, those nagging pains might be a sign of something more severe that could potentially keep you from doing your day-to-day, normal routines. Spine Health also adds, "malfunction in the sacroiliac joint is the most common cause of back pain in pregnancy," and it is treatable.

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Parents tells pregnant women there are some other things to watch out for when it comes to pregnancy back pain. If you have certain symptoms — such as a fever and dull ache, numbness, vaginal bleeding or contractions along with that back pain —you could be in preterm labor and it's best to contact your doctor or go to a hospital to get checked out. Other indicators of preterm labor would be sudden, sharp, and severe pains. With so many possible causes for back pain during pregnancy — from infection to a damaged nerve — it's usually better to err on the side of caution and contact your OB-GYN.

If you're experiencing back pain while pregnant, The Mayo Clinic has some tips that will allow the process of elimination to help you figure out whether or not a call to your doctor is in order. The first step is to sit up tall. By checking your posture, you can determine where the pain is radiating from. Also, be sure you're in the right arch support. When in motion, always squat with your legs — not your back — and when lying down, staying on your side is best. Massaging the painful area with ice or heat therapies may also help decrease any discomfort. If none of the aforementioned lessens the pain, or you notice any of the above serious symptoms, contact your doctor.

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Back pain is a real nuisance during pregnancy, but never underestimate the possibility of its severity. As with most things in pregnancy, use common sense and seek professional medical advice if you're at all worried or unsure. It's always better to be safe than sorry.