Lower back pain in early pregnancy: should I worry?

What does lower back pain mean in early pregnancy - especially if it's followed by bleeding or spotting? GP Dr Philippa Kaye explains what could be going on

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In a nutshell

Hormonal changes in pregnancy can lead to lower back pain – but this doesn’t necessarily mean you are having a miscarriage. If you are worried though, do visit your GP.

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You should definitely see a doctor if the pain is severe, if it’s mainly on one side or if you have bleeding, or feel dizzy.

Lower back pain in early pregnancy: what our forum mums say

Taking a look on our forum, we found lots and lots of mums chatting about having lower back pain in early pregnancy – like Bonnie Holmes, who says:

“As this is my 1st [pregnancy] I’m unsure what to expect. So far my pregnancy has been OK – no sickness, just very tired and sore boobs.

“However, woke up today with lower back pain, like, up over my butt, very sore. Is this normal? Checked on internet but loads of different opinions…”

Bonnie’s comment generated lots of responses, with plenty of mums-to-be going through the same thing – like Minnie22, who reveals: “I’m 7 weeks and have this too!

“I had backache just after BFP for 2 weeks then it stopped and now it’s back. I also have the odd sharp pain in ribs at back – sure it’s all the stretching and growing.”

Lower back pain in early pregnancy – why it happens

Regarding this back pain in early pregnancy, our favourite GP, Dr Philippa Kaye, tells us what’s going on: “Firstly, the follicle which produced the egg when you ovulated now forms the corpus luteum, which can become a cyst.

“It is involved in producing hormones and supporting the embryo as it implants and in the early stages before the placenta takes over.

“A corpus luteum cyst can cause pain in the pelvis or in the lower back. Generally no action is needed and it goes away as the placenta takes over.

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“The hormones of pregnancy kick in early and don’t just affect your womb or your breasts, they work everywhere and work to loosen the joints of the pelvis (and other places) to allow you to deliver the baby later.

“And this can mean that you get backache. Stress may also contribute.”

Does lower back pain in early pregnancy mean I’m having a miscarriage?

When we had a quick Google, we found, just like Bonnie says, lots of opinions about what’s going on with lower back pain in early pregnancy.

In particular, on one parenting website, we found mums-to-be talking about miscarriage symptoms being spotting/bleeding/lower back pain in that particular order. But is this true?

When we asked Dr Philippa about this specifically, she told us: “Saying that the signs of miscarriage are spotting, bleeding and pain in that order – I would not really agree with that.

“What is someone’s definition of spotting vs light bleeding or heavy bleeding? Also, people have varying pain thresholds, too.

“If you have bleeding in early pregnancy then please see a doctor, or if you have severe pain, or your pain is more on one side than the other.

“But not all bleeding or cramping means miscarriage, and sometimes miscarriages cause no symptoms at all and are not picked up until later.

“So it seems more sensible to say if you are bleeding see a doctor and if it is:

  • severe bleeding
  • you are feeling dizzy or unwell
  • if your pain is severe

– then seek urgent medical help (I would be concerned that it might be an ectopic pregnancy at that point).”

Can I take anything for lower back pain in early pregnancy?

Yes! Dr Philippa advises you can take paracetamol but not ibuprofen during your pregnancy for pain.

And she reiterates that If you are at all concerned then do seek medical advice.

Images: Getty

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