lower back pain

Lower back pain, pregnancy and iron deficiency

If you are pregnant and suffer from lower back pain, you are not alone. It has been approximated that about fifty percent of pregnant women will experience some low back pain at some point during or shortly pregnancy(1). This blog outlines the symptoms, possible causes including iron deficiency and the treatment options.

Symptoms of Lower Back Pain

Pregnancy lower back pain usually occurs around your sacral iliac joints at the base of your back. The pain can be both achy and sharp in nature. It is worse on sitting and standing along time and is relieved by walking.  The pain usually comes in the third trimester or during the last three months of pregnancy.


There are many different reasons why lower back pain occurs in pregnancy. Here are some of the most causes.

  1. Weight gain during pregnancy caused by the growing fetus can pressure on spinal nerves.
  2. Postural changes during pregnancy can affect the position of the pelvis and spine.
  3. Hormonal changes during the third trimester of gestation cause loosening of ligaments in the pelvis and lower back.
  4. Muscle separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy can worsen lower back pain.
  5. Emotional stress experienced during pregnancy can cause lower back pain.
  6. Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in gestation. Iron deficiency causes a reduction of oxygen travelling to the tissues including the muscles. A reduction of oxygen will cause muscles to fatigue quickly resulting in pain. This is why lower back pain caused by iron deficiency worsens on sitting and standing a long time.

If you are pregnant and suffer from lower back pain and suspect that low iron may be the reason, then the first step is to ask your doctor to test your blood test. The standard blood marker used to measure iron is ferritin. Ferritin is a measure of the total amount of iron in the blood. Another, useful measure, is iron saturation. Iron saturation measures the amount of iron that is absorbed into the cells. This marker is helpful if ferritin levels appear healthy but you still suspect that iron deficiency anaemia is the issue.


If your blood results indicate low iron, then supplementation is a quick and efficient first step to help improve symptoms. Some iron supplements can cause constipation especially those prescribed by doctors. I suggest you look for iron glycinate a form that I have found not to cause this problem. If you do not like taking capsules, then a liquid iron supplement such as Floradix is also good.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.


This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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