Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is unfortunately quite common in pregnancy – research shows it affects 1 in 5 women, and it can occur at any stage in pregnancy. Below are some of the signs…
- pain in the pelvic area – either at the front on the pubic bone or
- at the back of the pelvis,
- in your lower back,
- in your groin and/or buttocks.
- Walking, turning in bed, climbing stairs, getting out of a bath or car or taking your legs apart tend to bring on the pain.
We know that if PGP is left untreated the condition can often take much longer to resolve, so if you do have symptoms it’s worth getting it assessed and treated early. PGP can be treated effectively by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist – try to ensure you see a physiotherapist with a qualification from the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Women’s Health (ACPWH).
During pregnancy your body releases the hormone relaxin which softens your ligaments. This allows the body to accommodate your growing uterus and ensures the baby can pass through your pelvis at delivery. As your ligaments become softer, you are more susceptible to aches and pains as your joints are less well supported. PGP can occur because:
- there is some asymmetry at your pelvis. A Women’s Health Physiotherapist would be able to assess for this and would be able to treat this mal-alignment.
- changes in the activity of your tummy, hip and pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy can affect the stability at your pelvis.
- Walk with shorter strides – give yourself more time to get to places.
- Rest more and try to sit down for activities that would usually involve standing.
- Avoid standing on one leg (sit down to get dressed).
- When you turn in bed or change position try to squeeze your bottom muscles and keep your knees together.
- Listen to your body and don’t push through pain. If it hurts, don’t do it!
- Do your pelvic floor exercises as these will help to improve the strength at your pelvis and will compensate for the softening of the ligaments.
- Avoid activities that make the pain worse including sitting on the floor, sitting with your legs crossed.
- Avoid pushing heavy supermarket trolleys – shop online.
- Avoid breaststroke when swimming and take care to avoid wide legged positions
Your physiotherapist may give you a pelvic support belt following an assessment. This can provide a lot of relief and can be worn safely during pregnancy (Mens et al 2006). A physiotherapist will be able to examine your back, hips and pelvis and work out the cause of the problem. She will also be able to provide you with equipment, exercises and advice on positions for labour. She will also be able to document in your pregnancy notes and liaise with your midwife or Obstetrician as necessary.
Once the baby is born the pain often feels much better but try to follow the same advice as when you were pregnant with PGP until you’re symptom free.