Understanding and Managing Lower Back Pain After a C-Section

Lower Back Pain After a C-Section

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Lower back pain after a cesarean delivery, commonly known as a C-section, is a common issue that many mothers experience. The pain can start within hours after delivery and continue for days, weeks, or even months postpartum. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the possible causes of lower back pain after a C-section and provide practical tips for managing and relieving the discomfort.

Causes of Lower Back Pain After a C-Section

Hormonal Changes: A Potential Culprit

One possible cause of lower back pain after a C-section is the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. The body releases the hormone relaxin in preparation for giving birth, regardless of whether you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section. This hormone loosens ligaments and joints, making it easier to push out the baby. However, the downside is that the loosened joints and ligaments can lead to strain on the back, resulting in lower or mid-back pain. The good news is that your joints, muscles, and ligaments will gradually strengthen in the months following pregnancy. [1].

The hormonal changes after childbirth can be significant. Right after giving birth, estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically, which may contribute to mood swings, anxiety, and other emotional changes, including the “baby blues” or postpartum depression. Additionally, oxytocin, known as the “bonding hormone,” floods the system after delivery, which may also influence energy, mood, and anxiety levels. These hormonal fluctuations might play a role in postpartum back pain as well [4].

Weight Gain and Its Impact on Back Pain

Weight gain during pregnancy is another contributing factor to lower back pain after a C-section. As your baby grows, your body naturally increases in size, and carrying the extra weight can put stress on your back and spine. The shifting center of balance due to carrying the weight in front can further exacerbate the issue. Additionally, changes in the balance of the body caused by the weight gain during pregnancy can also result in back pain after delivery [3][1].

Furthermore, it is essential to note that weight gain after pregnancy, whether through antibiotics or other factors, can affect a woman’s overall physical health and increase the risk of developing back pain and other musculoskeletal issues [3]. Therefore, managing weight and engaging in postpartum exercises can be beneficial in reducing back pain and promoting overall well-being after a C-section delivery.

The Challenges of Lifting and Carrying

After a C-section, you are not only recovering from surgery but also adapting to the demands of caring for a newborn. Lifting and carrying your baby can contribute to back pain, especially if proper techniques and posture are not observed. While your baby may seem small, the repetitive actions of lifting from the crib, car seat, and stroller can take a toll on your back. Being mindful of your posture when handling your baby is crucial. Instead of bending over, keep your back straight and use your legs to lift. Additionally, consider optimizing the positioning of your car seat and crib to reduce the need for awkward movements while lifting. It’s essential for new mothers to be mindful of their posture and body mechanics, especially when lifting and carrying their newborn, as improper lifting techniques can strain the back and exacerbate the pain [1][3]. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and proper nutrition, can also help manage weight gain and reduce the risk of back pain after a C-section delivery [7].

The Impact of Breastfeeding on Back Pain

Breastfeeding is a beautiful bonding experience between mother and baby. However, it can also contribute to back pain if proper posture is not maintained. Spending long periods in a hunched position while breastfeeding can strain the neck, leading to pain that radiates to the back. To alleviate this discomfort, it is important to maintain proper positioning. Keep your shoulders relaxed and support your arm with a pillow. Take breaks from staring down at your baby and look straight ahead to avoid straining your neck.

One study recorded the curvatures of the lumbar spine and pelvis as well as the muscle activation levels of the erector spinae in women while breastfeeding in various positions. It found that certain breastfeeding positions, such as side lying and clutch-hold positions, showed a greater degree of lumbar spine flexion compared to standing, and all sitting postures resulted in retroversion of the pelvis when compared to standing and side lying. Additionally, the activation intensity of the erector spinae muscles in the right side-supported side lying position was significantly lower compared to other breastfeeding postures and standing, indicating that side lying may be a better position to avoid muscle fatigue during breastfeeding [1].

Another study investigated the prevalence and correlates of breastfeeding-related neck pain (BFRNP) in Nigerian lactating mothers. It found that cradle hold was the most commonly adopted breastfeeding position and that BFRNP was present in more than half of the participants. The study highlights the physical demands of breastfeeding, especially considering that mothers tend to perform it in a head-down position to maintain eye contact with the infant, which may contribute to neck pain [3].

It is important to note that back pain during breastfeeding can also be influenced by factors such as musculoskeletal issues. New mothers may experience back pain due to postpartum hormone changes, reduced core muscle strength, and carrying extra weight after childbirth. Proper posture and strengthening exercises can be beneficial in alleviating such pain [4].

Effects of Anesthesia: A Potential Cause

The type of anesthesia administered during a C-section can also play a role in the development of lower back pain. Depending on the specific circumstances, you may receive an epidural or a spinal block to numb the area before the surgery. Spinal anesthesia involves injecting an anesthetic into the space around the spinal cord, which blocks nerve signals and leads to numbness in the lower body. On the other hand, general anesthesia induces a temporary loss of consciousness, and the woman is completely unaware during the surgery [3].

Research has been conducted to investigate the link between anesthesia and persistent low back pain after delivery. A retrospective analysis of patients who underwent C-sections under either spinal or general anesthesia found that the type of anesthesia (spinal or general) was not associated with increased persistent low back pain. Instead, the weight of the baby after the C-section was found to be the only variable associated with persistent low back pain after 3 and 6 months postpartum [3].

While both methods are effective in managing pain during the procedure, they can cause muscle spasms near the spinal cord after delivery. These spasms can persist for weeks or even months, contributing to lower back pain. To alleviate back pain after a C-section, various remedies and treatments can be considered, including postural adjustments, exercise, pain medication, and seeking professional medical advice [1, 2].If you experience prolonged discomfort, consult with your healthcare provider for appropriate management strategies.

Postpartum Back Pain: What Can You Do?

If you are experiencing lower back pain after a C-section, there are several steps you can take to alleviate the discomfort and promote healing:

  1. Practice good posture: Maintain proper alignment of your spine and avoid slouching or hunching over.
  2. Engage in gentle exercises: Gradually introduce exercises that strengthen your core and back muscles, with guidance from your healthcare provider.
  3. Utilize heat or cold therapy: Applying a heating pad or ice pack to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief.
  4. Take over-the-counter pain medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help alleviate mild to moderate back pain. However, always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medication.
  5. Use supportive devices: Consider using a supportive belt or brace specifically designed for postpartum back pain.
  6. Seek physical therapy: A physical therapist can provide targeted exercises and techniques to address your specific pain and promote healing.
  7. Maintain a healthy weight: Gradually work towards achieving a healthy weight to relieve stress on your back and overall well-being.
  8. Practice self-care: Prioritize rest, stress management, and self-care activities to support your physical and mental recovery.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While lower back pain is common after a C-section, there are instances where medical attention should be sought. If you experience any of the following, consult with your healthcare provider:

  • Severe or worsening pain that is not relieved by home remedies
  • Pain accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs
  • Difficulty controlling bowel or bladder function
  • Signs of infection at the incision site, such as redness, swelling, or discharge

Your healthcare provider will be able to assess your condition and provide appropriate guidance and treatment if necessary.


Lower back pain after a C-section is a common occurrence, but it doesn’t have to be a long-term burden. By understanding the potential causes and implementing appropriate strategies for relief and healing, you can effectively manage the discomfort and focus on enjoying the precious moments with your newborn. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and support throughout your postpartum journey.


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Is back pain after c-section permanent?

Back pain after a C-section is typically not permanent. The pain is a common postpartum issue experienced by some mothers, and it can start within hours after delivery and continue for days, weeks, or months.

How to reduce back pain after c-section naturally?

To naturally reduce back pain after a C-section, consider the following methods:

  1. Gentle Exercise: Engage in postnatal exercises, such as pelvic tilts, gentle stretches, and core strengthening exercises, to improve muscle strength and flexibility.
  2. Proper Lifting: When lifting the newborn, use proper body mechanics to avoid strain on the back. Bend at the knees and lift with the legs instead of the back.
  3. Posture: Maintain good posture while sitting, standing, and breastfeeding to reduce stress on the back.
  4. Rest: Get enough rest and avoid prolonged sitting or standing.
  5. Warm Compress: Applying a warm compress to the affected area can provide relief from muscle tension.
  6. Supportive Cushions: Use supportive cushions while sitting to maintain proper posture.
  7. Massage: Gentle back massages can help alleviate muscle tension and improve circulation.

Always consult with your health care provider for appropriate guidance and treatment.

What are the long term side effects of spinal anesthesia after c-section?

The long-term side effects of spinal anesthesia after a C-section can be rare but may include neurological complications. One specific neurological complication that can occur after spinal anesthesia is foot drop. However, foot drop after cesarean section is considered rare

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