Pregnancy and pelvic pain

Pregnancy and pelvic pain

If you are pregnant and experiencing pain in your pelvis you are not alone. Pelvic pain is common in pregnancy and often felt around the front of the pelvis (pubic symphysis) and the back of the pelvis (Sacroiliac Joint aka your SIJ). During your pregnancy there are many changes that take place in your body to allow for the growth and birth of your baby. One of those changes is the rise in hormones relaxin and progesterone.

Relaxin generally increases throughout gestation but it peaks at the end of the first and third trimesters (at 12 and 39 weeks). As its name suggests, one of the effects includes softening and relaxation of the ligaments to promote movement and expansion of the pelvic girdle, needed to allow for baby growth and delivery. It is also thought to promote implantation, inhibit contractions of the uterus and relax arteries. Progesterone rises exponentially in the first trimester and also has a role in the relaxation of smooth muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments.

While the relaxation of the pelvic girdle is a necessary process, it can also lead to hypermobility (excess movement) of the joints and overload of some muscles leading to pain!

Below are my top 5 tips for managing pelvic pain in pregnancy:

  1. Stand with an even weight distribution (don’t sink into one hip, especially if holding another little one)
  2. Strengthen your muscles and maintain your fitness throughout your pregnancy (unless indicated otherwise by your health team), but avoid single leg movements like lunges and step ups
  3. Avoid sitting cross legged when seated, especially with one leg over the other
  4. When going from sitting to standing, whether from the couch or desk, wriggle forward to the edge, make sure even weight is in each foot THEN stand. When getting in or out of the car, picture both legs stuck together with glue and move them together as a unit, rather than each in unison
  5. If you are experiencing pain when sleeping, try laying on your side with a pillow between your knees. This aims to prevent excessive movement in your SIJ.

There are many other things we can do to help you manage your pain including assessing and addressing poor posture, pelvic alignment, core and pelvic floor weaknesses and previous injuries. If your pain persists please reach out.

Disclaimer: If you experience pain with abnormal bleeding, abdominal pain or cramping, unusual headaches, sudden swelling of your hands/face/legs, a fever or a decrease in your baby’s movement – you should call your Midwife, Obstetrician or Doctor immediately. This advice should not replace that of your Midwife, Obstetrician or Doctor.

Written by Harriette Tait