First-time moms-to-be often stress about how their medical complaints can affect their baby. Sharp pain around the pelvis is one of them. Mostly, it could be pelvic girdle pain, a common and harmless side effect of pregnancy.
During pregnancy, as your body supports and makes room for the growing baby, you may experience unpleasant side effects such as pelvic pain. For women experiencing pelvic girdle pain, pregnancy can become a less enjoyable and more painful journey. Pelvic pain during pregnancy does not harm or hurt the baby in the womb. But it can cause severe discomfort to the expectant mother. Here’s all you need to know.
What Does Pelvic Girdle Pain Feel Like?
Pelvic bone pain during pregnancy is common. However, different women experience pelvic girdle pain (PGP) differently. Usually, it affects the following parts of the body:
- Lower back
- Upper thighs
- Perineum (area between genitals and anus)
Who is at Risk of Pelvic Girdle Pain?
Not all pregnant women experience this kind of pain. Some women may experience severe pain, affecting their ability to stand, walk, sit, or move around. Women are more likely to experience PGP if:
- They have had girdle pain or lower back issues earlier
- They experienced pain in the pelvic region during pregnancy with their first child or previous children
- They have suffered any pelvic or lower back injury
- They have a condition called hypermobility
Apart from this, the risk of pain in the groin during pregnancy is higher among women with obesity and anxiety issues. Smoking increases this risk. Since smoking is also linked to several birth defects and an even higher risk of stillbirth, it is advisable to quit smoking when you conceive. Pelvic girdle pain can also result from doing physically demanding work on a daily basis. c Lower pelvic pain in pregnancy is more common among women who have conceived several times previously.
What are the Main Pelvic Girdle Pain Causes?
The pelvic girdle encompasses the bones forming a ring around your spine at its base. Pubic bone pain during pregnancy can be experienced both in the front and at the back of this ring. It has three joints that must work smoothly. When these joints move unevenly, you feel pelvic pain. Pregnancy heightens the risk because of the added weight of the baby on the pelvic region bones. The severity of pelvic bone pain during pregnancy goes up in the third trimester. As the baby grows heavier, the weight on the pelvis increases, destabilizing it further. Statistics corroborate that the incidence of pelvic girdle pain is higher among women in advanced pregnancy.
Some pregnant women may experience pelvic girdle pain in the first trimester itself. Changing positions swiftly can trigger pelvic girdle pain.
Another reason is that during pregnancy, your body makes room for the baby by loosening the joints and ligaments. This can cause muscle imbalance. The weight of the baby plus your changed posture prompts leg and back muscles to tighten and pull at the pelvis. Other muscles are left lax and flaccid. All of these can result in pelvic girdle pain.
Symptoms of PGP
You already know how and where pelvic girdle pain manifests. You may experience it in your pubic area, across the pelvic belt, in the hips or thighs or lower back as a persistent pain. Other symptoms of PGP include:
- Grinding sensation in the pelvic region
- A clicking noise when you shift your pelvis
- Worsening pain while walking on uneven surfaces
- Pain gets worse on standing or walking for a long time
- Shifting knees apart feels uncomfortable if not painful
- Putting complete weight on one knee, like when climbing stairs, is painful
- Severe pain on moving from the resting position
How To Get Relief From Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy?
Usually, this pain disappears after childbirth. But, during pregnancy, it must be addressed in time to ensure it does not worsen. The first step is to talk to your gynaecologist and ask for advice. Choosing a friendly, communicative and experienced gynaecologist is a great advantage here. Your gynaecologist may recommend seeing a physiotherapist and learning some pelvic girdle pain exercises that can offer relief.
Here are some tips on how to relieve pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy at home:
- Identify the causes of the pain and avoid or limit those actions
- Sit down when dressing up or changing to avoid weight falling on one leg
- Put your high heels away until childbirth
- Tuck your bottom in a little when you stand
- Stay active. Get up and walk every 20 to 30 minutes
- Keep your knees as close as possible when you are moving out of a chair or car
- Put a supportive pillow under the top knee/leg if you sleep on your side
- Avoid lifting heavy things or carrying things up the stairs
- Do not stand on one leg; spread your weight over both legs when you stand
- Avoid squatting and other activities that stress the hip
For severe pain, ask your doctor how to relieve pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy. They may suggest some pregnancy-safe pain relief medications. A physiotherapist can help you through PGP using the following methods:
Releasing the tight muscles through the right kind of massage can bring instant as well as long-term relief. Massage can help relieve spasmed muscles in this region. It can also help lengthen the right muscles in this area to support the weight of the growing baby in the womb.
The physiotherapist may teach you exercises to strengthen your core muscles as well as the pelvic floor muscles. These will not only help with PGP but also help in childbirth and postpartum recovery. Most of these exercises can be done at home with little or no equipment. For pelvic girdle pain, exercise ball-based movements can be helpful.
Be cautious of your movements when getting in and out of the bed, carrying heavy things, sitting, standing, and sleeping. Consciously distributing the weight equally between your feet helps.
Pelvic Support Belt
This belt supports your pelvic girdle and helps stabilise the bones and reduce pain. However, it is important to learn how to wear the belt correctly.
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Data shows that about 50% of pregnant women experience pelvic girdle pain. Pregnancy-time leave owing to this pain is quite common among working women. PGP can cause a lot of disruption to your work life, but more significantly, it can keep you from enjoying your pregnancy. Getting the right advice and treatment in time is essential in eliminating the pain quickly.