In a nutshell

Lots of women experience some lower back pain in the early weeks of pregnancy but this is usually due to normal hormonal changes. Lower back pain in early pregnancy doesn't, by itself, mean you are having a miscarriage.


If you are worried though, you should seet your GP. And if the pain is severe, if it's mainly on one side or if you also have bleeding or feel dizzy, please seek urgent medical advice.

What causes lower back pain in early pregnancy?

Back pain in early pregnancy can have causes related to the pregnancy – and causes unrelated. Joint pain can occur in pregnancy due to the hormonal changes going on, but it is also possible to have back pain related to other issues.

Why would early pregnancy make my back and hips hurt?

The hormones of pregnancy kick in early in pregnancy – even as early as weeks 4 and 5. They don't just affect your womb and your breasts; they’re at work everywhere and one of their effects is to start loosening the joints of your pelvis (and other places) to allow you to give birth to your baby in 9 months’ time.

All this loosening can give you backache and aching around your hips and pelvis. If you’re also feeling stressed, that can contribute to feeling more achey.

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Could it be a corpus luteum cyst? What does that pain feel like?

When you ovulate, the pouch-shaped follicle which produced your egg forms the corpus luteum. Its job is to produce oestrogen and progesterone to help your womb get ready to supporting the embryo as it implants.

This happens whether you fall pregnant or not. If you don’t conceive, the corpus luteum breaks down and triggers menstruation; if you do conceive, it hangs around longer (up to about 7 to 9 weeks of pregnancy) to support the embryo in the early stages before your placenta takes over.

Sometimes, though, the corpus luteum can fill with fluid leading to a cyst, (Again, this can happen whether you’re pregnant or not.)

This corp1us luteum cyst can cause localised pain in your pelvis or lower back. Generally, no action is needed and the cyst – and the pain – will go away on its own.

Can lower back pain in early pregnancy mean I'm having a miscarriage?

It can but it doesn't follow that it is. Pain without bleeding is less likely to be related to miscarriage. If bleeding does occur please seek medical advice.

If you are experiencing lower back pain/pelvic pain which is severe, you feel unwell dizzy, with or without heavy bleeding, please seek urgent medical help as these could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy.

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

You can take paracetamol but not ibuprofen for pain. And if you are at all concerned then do seek medical advice.

Images: Getty

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Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice.