Pregnancy and Scoliosis: Everything You Need to Know

Written by: Gabriela Alvarado



Time to read 7 min

If you have scoliosis and are planning to get pregnant, or if you already are, you may be wondering how this condition will affect your pregnancy journey: the good news is that it doesn’t need to harm your pregnancy. However, it’s important to be mindful of certain factors to make sure you and your baby are happy and healthy.

Keep reading to learn more about how scoliosis can affect pregnancy, and how to manage scoliosis-related symptoms during pregnancy.

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Can Scoliosis Affect Pregnancy?

Scoliosis involves a sideways curvature of the spine that usually occurs during the growth spurt just before puberty, when skeletal maturity hasn’t been reached yet: this is called adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. 

However, there are other types of scoliosis caused by neuromuscular conditions that begin to affect the person from birth. Scoliosis can affect the lumbar or thoracic spine, but the latter is more common.

While mild scoliosis may cause few problems, severe scoliosis can lead to reduced space within the chest cavity, causing breathlessness or difficulty breathing.

For pregnant women with mild to moderate scoliosis, pregnancy tends to go on as usual. However, if you have severe scoliosis you should try to consult your primary healthcare provider or obstetrics specialist before conception. 

This consultation can help determine if you’ll need additional monitoring throughout your pregnancy.

As the pregnancy progresses, women with severe scoliosis may notice an increase in upper and lower back pain, as well as breathing problems, particularly in the later trimesters. If you suffer from this type of scoliosis, make sure to keep in touch with your healthcare providers to manage these symptoms effectively.

Woman pregnant with scoliosis

Most pregnant patients with scoliosis are eligible for an epidural during labor. However, it’s important to consider spinal curvature, scoliosis progression and history of spinal fusion surgery, as these factors could pose further challenges for the anesthesiologist when placing the epidural needle. 

Despite these potential difficulties, an experienced anesthesiologist can usually administer the epidural successfully.

The rates of vaginal delivery and cesarean sections are nearly identical for women without scoliosis and scoliosis patients. Obstetricians may recommend a C-section for women with a severe curve progression, but it’s always possible to discuss preferences and options with your doctor. 

Many women with severe scoliosis have had successful vaginal deliveries.

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Will My Baby Also Have Scoliosis ?

When it comes to congenital scoliosis, there is a possibility that the condition may be inherited. Genetic counseling and prenatal testing are recommended if you have a family history of scoliosis. It’s important to consider that most cases of scoliosis are idiopathic, meaning they arise spontaneously without a known hereditary link. You can have a perfectly healthy baby, even if you have severe scoliosis.

Does Scoliosis Get Worse during Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your body undergoes various changes that can affect the spine: looser ligaments caused by the relaxin hormone, which is produced during pregnancy weight gain, and an altered center of gravity. 

These can lead to increased low back pain or worsen existing discomfort. Often, women with scoliosis experience a slight worsening of their condition.

The influence of pregnancy on the scoliosis curve progression , which is the increase or worsening of the curve, has been the subject of various studies

Some research suggests that the scoliosis curvature can progress during pregnancy due to the changes that prepare the body for childbirth. 

Other studies, however, indicate that there are no significant changes in the Cobb angle—a measure of the degree of spinal curvature on a X-ray film—during pregnancy.

For women with scoliosis, it’s essential to be under the care of a healthcare provider who understands the nuances of their condition. Regular monitoring can help manage any changes in the spinal curvature and address worsening symptoms.

Pregnancy and Scoliosis

Scoliosis Treatment and Pain Management during Pregnancy

Mild cases of scoliosis usually only don’t need treatment, only monitoring of the curvature while the patient is still growing, as that’s when scoliosis patients have the higher risk of worsening their condition.

Some treatment options for moderate and severe cases include:

  • Braces: Bracing is a common treatment for scoliosis, particularly in children and teenagers whose bones are still growing. It involves wearing a brace around the torso for a set number of hours each day to prevent further curvature of the spine.

  • Scoliosis surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be recommended. The most common procedure is spinal fusion, which joins the affected vertebrae together, so they heal into a single, solid bone.

These treatments usually aren’t suitable for pregnant women. Instead, the scoliosis treatments suited for pregnant women are more conservative and focused on pain relief . Some methods to alleviate this discomfort are:

  • Ice packs and warm compresses: Applying ice packs can help reduce inflammation and numb sore areas. Warm compresses can relax tight muscles and alleviate pain.

  • Maternity support belts: These belts provide support to the lower back and abdomen, distributing the weight of the growing baby more evenly and reducing strain on the back.

  • Low-impact exercises: Activities such as swimming, walking and prenatal yoga can strengthen the core and back muscles, which helps support the spine and reduce pain.

  • Comfortable sitting options: Using especially designed furniture, like the  Nurture& Glider  along with the  Lumbar Pillow  or a  pregnancy pillow , can offer the postural support you need to relieve your scoliosis-related back pain. A  Glider  is also a great ally to help you nurse your baby and stay comfortable after your pregnancy.

  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can tailor exercises and stretches to your individual needs, helping maintain flexibility and strength in the spin and the surrounding muscles.

These strategies cannot only help you relieve your scoliosis symptoms, but they also support a comfortable, happy, and healthy pregnancy.

What Should You Avoid if You Have Scoliosis?

Having scoliosis while pregnant can require certain lifestyle adjustments to manage and prevent exacerbations of existing back pain. Try to avoid the following activities:


High-impact Exercises

High-impact workouts that involve both feet leaving the ground simultaneously should be avoided. These include running and jumping, as they can increase the stress on the spine and potentially worsen scoliosis-related pain.


While maintaining flexibility is important, overstretching can be detrimental. It’s essential to avoid pushing your body beyond its comfortable range of motion, as this can lead to muscle strain and increased risk of pain.

Heavy Lifting

Heavy lifting can place additional strain on the spine, leading to increased pain and discomfort. Pregnant women with scoliosis should be particularly cautious and avoid lifting heavy objects whenever possible.

Ignoring Pain

Pain is the body’s way of signaling that something is wrong. Ignoring pain and continuing activities that cause discomfort can lead to further injury. It’s important to listen to your body and rest or modify activities as needed.

Excessive Bending and Twisting

Activities that require excessive bending and twisting of the spine should be limited. These movements can exacerbate the curvature of the spine and lead to increased pain. Find alternative ways to perform these tasks or ask for help to minimize stress on the back.

By avoiding these activities, pregnant women with scoliosis can better manage their condition and minimize discomfort.

scoliosis pregnancy


Can You Get an Epidural if You Have Scoliosis ?

An epidural is a common form of pain relief during labor, and many women with scoliosis may wonder if they can use this option. The good news is that an epidural is certainly possible for women with mild to moderate scoliosis. However, it’s important to be aware that the process may take longer , as the anesthesiologist might need additional time to place the needle correctly.

In cases of severe scoliosis, especially if the curvature affects the lower back or if the patient has had spinal fusion surgery, it may still be possible to have an epidural, but it requires careful planning

It’s crucial to discuss this with your doctor well in advance of your due date. They could recommend a consultation with the anesthesiology department to evaluate your specific situation and determine the best approach.

Does Scoliosis Complicate Labor?

When it comes to labor, women with scoliosis generally don’t experience more complications than women without it. Scoliosis doesn’t usually cause any particular complications during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or for the baby.

However, it’s not uncommon for obstetricians to opt for elective C-sections more frequently for women with scoliosis, to avoid the potential difficulties that could arise due to the spinal curvature.

Can I Have a Healthy Pregnancy if I Have Scoliosis ?

This is one of the most common questions women with scoliosis have, and the answer is: Yes! Many women with scoliosis have healthy pregnancies and deliveries. Just make sure you frequently consult your healthcare provider before and during pregnancy.

What Kind of Prenatal Care Should I Expect with Scoliosis ?

Your prenatal care might include more frequent visits to monitor your back and your baby’s growth. You may also need additional imaging tests, like ultrasounds. It’s also a good idea to work with a physical therapist who specializes in pregnancy and scoliosis to help you manage back pain and prepare for childbirth.

Are There Any Special Considerations for Postpartum Recovery with Scoliosis?

After delivery, your focus will be on recovery and caring for your newborn. It’s important to continue getting physical therapy and doing exercises to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles

Be mindful of your posture when lifting and carrying your baby to avoid additional strain on your back. If you’ve had a C-section, follow your doctor’s instructions for care and recovery closely.

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Remember, every woman’s experience with scoliosis and pregnancy is unique. So, it’s essential to work closely with your healthcare team to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your baby.

At Nurture&, we have all the essentials to make your pregnancy as easy as possible and to make your baby feel right at home in their nursery. Check out our online store!

L. Elizabeth Forry

Medically reviewed: Gabriela Alvarado

Medical surgeon with certifications from Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University. Committed to medical excellence, she has conducted several academic research projects that have contributed to the advancement of the field.

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