With the increased weight of the baby bump pulling your center of gravity off and the increased stress as you try to prepare for your baby, it’s no wonder mothers so often complain of back pain.

But it’s not just the baby’s weight or your tense muscles contributing to back pains — it’s your hormones, too. The hormones that physically prepare you for giving birth affect joints and ligaments throughout your body, leaving you more prone to injury — and back aches.

This pain may be localized in the lower back, or it may radiate down through the buttocks and into the legs. Obviously, neither experience is particularly enjoyable. But thankfully there are some things you can do to reduce the stress you’re putting on your back!

Possibly the easiest thing you can do to improve the state of your back is to work on your posture. Try not to slouch. Try not to stand still for long periods of time; try to walk when you can, or switch your weight between feet. When sleeping on your side, it’s usually recommended to sleep with a pillow between your legs (whether or not your pregnant!) to lessen the stress on your back.

Make sure you have shoes with good support.

If you can get someone to help you when it comes to bending over or lifting heavy things, you should. Your body already has more than enough stress on it!

Exercise is often a wonderful cure for almost everything that ails us, including, potentially, back pain. Not only are the endorphins nice, but stronger muscles may help you carry your new weight better. It’s especially important to make certain that your doctor approves of your exercise regimen as you move further into your pregnancy, however.

Remembering to take time to yourself to relax can also be especially important for preventing back pain. The more stressed you are, the more likely you are to hold yourself stiffly and have tense muscles. A massage may be a perfect way to unwind, but you’ll want to discuss with your doctor what kinds of massage are and aren’t safe for your pregnancy first.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about any pain you experience during your pregnancy, even if you’re not planning on exercising or getting a massage!