Postnatal Back Pain

If you are struggling with postnatal back pain, aches and pains in your back following the birth of your baby, you are not alone. Back pain for new mums is a very common problem, with some studies reporting symptoms in up to 75% of post-natal women.

The physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth can take a toll on your body and, as you recover from your birthing experience, back pain can be truly debilitating.

Why is this happening to me?

Every woman is different, which is why we would always recommend having an assessment with us to understand the changes in your own post-natal body, however, there are some common issues that we frequently come across:

Pelvic floor dysfunction

Your pelvic floor has just been through a lot! Whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section your pelvic floor has been under a great strain during your pregnancy and delivery.

This sling of muscles forms a major part of your CORE and helps support your pelvis and lower spine. Mummy MOT practitioners are trained to assess your pelvic floor function and set you up with an effective treatment and management plan.

Postural changes

The weight of your growing baby during pregnancy can cause changes in your pelvic position, often causing a ‘tilting forwards’. This tilt can cause your lower back to arch more than usual, putting excess strain on the surrounding muscles. When the baby arrives, the demands on your posture change again and this can be a contributor to back pain. As physios, we also see changes in muscle strength and length around the pelvis, particularly in the gluteal region which can lead to your back ‘taking more strain’.

Postnatal back pain

Hormonal changes

During your pregnancy hormonal changes cause your ligaments to relax in preparation for birth and after your baby arrives, these hormones may still be present for some time.  The extra laxity of the joints and ligaments, alongside weakness in the pelvic floor and core strength, can contribute to lower back aches and strains.

Core strength

Your abdominal muscles and surrounding tissues need to stretch and widen during your pregnancy to make way for your growing bump. After your baby is born, these tissues will slowly start to rebalance and regain their tension, however, for some women, it can be difficult to reconnect with their core.

If your abdominals are not engaging when you need them to, the lower back muscles can overcompensate and, once again, ‘take the strain’.

Physical demands of motherhood:

Being a mum is quite a journey and can be tough in many ways, but we can underestimate how physically demanding it can be.


Lifting and carrying:

  • Lifting your baby from cot to car seat to floor to highchair multiple times throughout the day requires full body and particularly core strength. If there is a weakness present, back pain can result from the cumulative effect of lifting incorrectly.
  • It may feel like you spend all day carrying and rocking your baby and many of us favour one hip or do so in an unbalanced way.
  • Babywearing is a wonderful option for many new mums but use caution when choosing a sling and ensure the fit is correct to reduce your risk of back pain. For more information visit: Everything you need to know about slings and carriers | Baby & toddler articles & support | NCT


Feeding positions:

  • Given how often new babies require feeding, it is no surprise that, if you are not sitting in a supportive position, you may be adding to postural issues and lower back strains throughout the course of the day.

What treatment is available?

The good news is that for many women, back pain usually improves within a few months with gentle exercise and practicing postural awareness. However, for some, persistent back pain may require further detailed assessment and treatment, ideally with an experienced health care professional such as a Mummy MOT practitioner.

Gentle exercise:

Mummy MOT practitioners are able to provide you with a personalised programme to help you target and safely regain the strength and postural control you need. These are just some of the exercises you may be taught by your mummy MOT practitioner:

  • Effective breathing techniques
  • Reconnecting with your deep abdominal muscles
  • Gentle core exercise at an appropriate difficulty to be challenging but not trigger your pain.
  • Targeted stretching of surrounding muscle groups.
  • A graded strengthening program that targets the ‘muscles of motherhood!’

There are also specially developed online programmes available to you on the Mummy MOT website including Smart Postnatal Recovery Programme. 

Postural advice and tips:

Keep these tips in mind throughout the day:

  • Practice drawing your body up tall when sitting or standing to avoid slumping and rounding your shoulders.
  • Be super mindful of your body position when feeding your baby. You want to be in a comfortable chair, preferably with armrests. Have plenty of pillows to hand to enable you to support yourself upright and bring your baby up to you so you are not having to lean forwards to them. Some mums prefer to use a feeding pillow which provides support, wrapping around the waist in a U- shape.
  • For mums who are breastfeeding, using a side-lying feeding position may provide some relief from upper back and neck pain.
  • If you are recovering from a c-section birth lifting nothing heavier than your baby for 3-4 weeks is advised, however for all new mothers, avoiding heavy lifting is a good idea until your body has started to regain some core strength.
  • If you do find yourself having to lift, (car seats are a notorious nightmare!) always bend from your knees, not your waist, and pick up things from a squat position to reduce strain on your back.

Further treatment options

  • Talk to your GP about medication that is safe for you to use in the post-natal period.
  • Alternative treatments such as massage and acupuncture may also offer some pain relief.
  • Supportive clothing/ garments- although there is not a great deal of scientific evidence to support their use, some women find relief using a belly band or belt. We would advise that if you choose this option, it is important to ensure you are using this alongside a core strengthening plan.


You are not alone. Please don’t suffer with pain in silence. We are here for you and after fully assessing and helping you to understand the cause of your pain, we will help you on the road to recovery.

For reference:

  • Your post-pregnancy body – NHS (