7 Tips To Reduce Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a wonderful journey filled with anticipation and joy, but it often comes with unique challenges. Among them, pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is common with many expectant mothers. As your body undergoes incredible changes to nurture new life, discomfort in the pelvic region can cast a shadow over this magical time. Pelvic pain may be common during pregnancy, but don’t worry. You can take steps to manage PGP and be as comfortable as possible.

Pain in the pelvic area is called pelvic girdle pain (PGP). Pelvic girdle pain can be felt in different parts of the body: the symphysis pubis joint, lower back, pelvic floor, inner thighs, hips, groin, and buttocks. Pain is experienced differently from person to person. Pelvic pain during pregnancy can be a sharp, stabbing pain or a dull ache.1

PGP in pregnancy is common, affecting one in five pregnant women. Pelvic pain in pregnancy can range in severity from mild to severe.1

Pelvic pain can start in the first trimester but usually occurs in the second and third trimesters.2

Pelvic pain can occur with certain activities, such as:2

  • Roll over in bed
  • Walking up and down stairs
  • Wearing pants
  • Entering and exiting the vehicle
  • Sit or stand for long periods of time

A variety of factors cause pelvic pain during pregnancy, including:

  • Hormones: Starting at 10 weeks into pregnancy, the body increases its production of a hormone called relaxin. This hormone relaxes the ligaments in the body to accommodate the growing baby and prepare for delivery. Although these are necessary functions, they also affect the ligaments in the pelvis. The ligaments are not as supportive as pre-pregnancy, causing the pelvis bones to move more freely.4
  • Growing baby: As your baby grows, it puts more pressure on the pelvis, abdomen, and back, causing discomfort and pain.4
  • Previous injuries: Past back injuries or back problems can cause you to have pelvic pain during pregnancy.1

Pelvic girdle pain was previously referred to as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). SPD in pregnancy is when there is dysfunction in the symphysis pubis joint. This joint connects two bones in the front of the pelvis.6

SPD occurs when ligaments allow the bones in the front of the pelvis to move apart too much. This leads to pain and discomfort in the hips, groin, glutes, and sometimes above the pubic area. You may feel like your pelvis is popping or experience a stabbing pain in the groin area. Fortunately, this usually resolves after birth.6

Pelvic pain can happen to anyone during pregnancy. However, some may be more susceptible to the disease. Some factors can increase your chances of experiencing pelvic pain during pregnancy:3

  • Pelvic pain before pregnancy
  • Pelvic pain in previous pregnancies
  • Previous back pain or injury
  • A physically demanding job
  • Being overweight

Now, on to the good stuff. What can be done to relieve pelvic pain when you are pregnant? Here are seven tips:

If cleared by your provider, taking an over-the-counter pain medication that is safe for pregnancy, such as Tylenol, can help with mild aches and pains. Be careful to avoid aspirin and ibuprofen because they may not be safe for pregnancy.3

A pelvic support garment or belt can help stabilize the pelvis and relieve pain. There are pelvic support belts specifically for pregnancy that many help relieve pressure on the pelvis.4

If you’re experiencing pelvic pain, it’s important to rest. Sitting or lying down and giving your body rest can help relieve the pain. Listen to your body, and allow yourself to rest more often if needed.7

Wearing comfortable and supportive shoes will help support the pelvis. Also, walking shorter distances with shorter steps will prevent the pubic symphysis joint from separating too much, keeping the pain to a minimum.7

Swimming can be beneficial and soothing for relieving pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy. The buoyancy of the water distributes the weight evenly, helping to take extra pressure off your growing miracle.4

If possible, keep your legs in line. If certain activities cause pain, such as rolling over in bed or getting in and out of the car, keeping the legs aligned can help. Place a pillow between the legs and roll in one continuous motion when rolling in bed. It helps stabilize the pelvic bones and prevents overstretching of the symphysis pubis joint.7

There is no better time to treat yourself to a massage. Strained or stiff muscles can cause pelvic pain. A massage therapist can target specific areas to exercise to relieve pain. When pregnant, finding a massage therapist who specializes in prenatal massage is important. Specific stretches, such as the side-lying release, may help, but you’ll want to talk to your provider first to see if this will benefit you.8

Certain activities can trigger pelvic pain. It is important to identify these activities to avoid discomfort. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Overexerting yourself6
  • Standing on one leg (get dressed while sitting, if possible)7
  • Shoes with high heels6
  • Pushing the pain7
  • Heavy lifting and heavy pushing activities such as vacuuming1

If you suffer from pelvic pain during your pregnancy, know that you are not alone and that there are resources. Your provider’s diagnosis can be very helpful in managing pelvic pain. Your provider may recommend exercises, limit certain activities, or refer you to a specialist such as a physical therapist.

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