Sleeping with severe Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)
Since you‘re here, reading this blog post, I suppose you already know that pregnancy can be quite uncomfortable, especially in the third trimester. We all know that it's best to be as well rested as possible to care for your new born baby, but pregnancy symptoms can make resting extremely difficult. Many pregnant women get PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) during pregnancy. Amongst other things, the pain associated with PGP can make falling asleep a struggle. Pregnancy insomnia is definitely a thing, and it can make you frustrated beyond belief.
It's just so frustrating
You‘re lying in bed, in pain, trying to get comfortable, your partner is snoring, you‘re exhausted but you can‘t fall asleep. It‘s just a terrible feeling but you are definitely not alone. PGP is a common diagnosis among pregnant women. About half (some studies say up to 75%) of pregnant women have some degree of the condition, ranging from mild discomfort in one or two areas, to excruciating pain in the whole back and pelvis. The severity varies depending on the woman, but the symptoms are still very similar. Along with the pain, you might experience swelling, difficulty standing, and nerve pain that radiates down your legs. PGP has three different levels of severity, based on how well the ligaments are supporting the pelvis.
You're not alone
Latest studies show that getting good sleep during pregnancy is extremely important for you and the baby. You should rest and be at your best but as you probably know, PGP doesn‘t make it easy. In fact, sometimes it makes good sleep seem like a faraway dream (hah!). Add the hourly trips to the bathroom on top of the PGP and you kind of have a recipe for disaster, or at least a very grumpy and bitter pregnant woman. Being pregnant and struggling with PGP can possibly be holding you back physically in so many ways, so dealing with being sleep deprived on top of it is just not fair. Luckily you have some options to at least TRY to get comfortable, even if there‘s no real cure for PGP.
Forgive me, but ..
One of the quickest ways to solve the problem is to take a sleeping pill. Now, I‘m not a doctor, and I‘m not one to be pushing drugs to pregnant women, BUT, there are certain sleeping pills and painkillers that are considered safe for pregnant women and if you‘re at the end of your rope you might consider taking them, even if only for a few days to get your pain levels down a bit and gather your strength. Don‘t feel guilty about taking drugs that are considered safe for pregnancy because like I said earlier, getting good rest while pregnant is very important. If you're uncomfortable taking sleeping pills, a simple pain killer like Paracetamol might be able to ease the pain, therefore making it easier for you to fall asleep. Ask your doctor and see what he thinks. Don‘t hold back and just tell him how bad the pain really is and how it‘s affecting your life.
I hope I haven‘t scared you off with the drug talk, but I personally had a very severe case of PGP and if you‘ve been through that sort of pain you know that sometimes you just need a break, even for a little while. For others who haven‘t been through debilitating, chronic pain, please don‘t judge the rest of us.
Fighting the PGP insomnia
That being said, of course, when you‘re comfortable, it‘s easier to sleep. If you don't want to take any medication, there are simple ways to make yourself more comfortable without putting anything into your system. I‘ve written a lot of posts about how to get comfy at night time during pregnancy so please, scroll through them and see if you find anything that might help you.
I won‘t go into details, but physiotherapy, osteopathy, massage therapy, and acupuncture can all be applied to aide in easing the Pelvic Girdle Pain. Your doctor or midwife should provide you with good information and point you in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to shop around a bit for professionals who’ve worked successfully with pregnant women and PGP before, they’re not all very knowledgeable about the condition.
You need to be able to sleep. You are going to lose enough sleep with your new child (it’s a total cliché but true, at least for the first few months), so it's a good idea to try and sleep while you can. When your PGP prevents this from happening, be proactive. Try the pillow in between your legs and sleeping in different positions first, and of course we recommend a maternity slide sheet to help with moving in bed.
I´ll throw in another cliché: The insomnia, pain and sleepless nights are totally worth it and chances are that you´ll soon forget about the whole thing when your baby's here. Hang in there :)