Pelvic Girdle Pain is not your fault, it‘s the hormones!
Before we get to the symptoms, know this: Your body has to go through some pretty major changes in order to make room for your expected baby. Your bones, joints, and ligaments will have to adjust to help you push out your baby out. To help with this, your body produces a hormone (Relaxin) to allow your ligaments to connect to the bones of your pelvis, to relax and help you make room for your baby. This is supposed to be a good thing during delivery, but it can cause you pain during your pregnancy, called Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP). Close to 50-70% of women will have some form of Pelvic Girdle Pain during their pregnancy, 5-8% being severe cases. The pain most commonly occurs because of the hormonal and physical changes during your pregnancy. You will feel pain when you make movements with your pelvis.
Do you recognize these symptoms?
- Pain in your pelvic area that may linger in your lower back
- Pain in your hips
- Pain in your buttocks (sacroiliac-joint)
- Pain that radiates down your legs
- Pain at the front of the pelvis (symphysis pubis joint) where the two pubic bones meet
- Pain in your tail-bone
- Pain while performing certain movements, like getting out of bed or getting in and out of a car. You may also experience pain when walking and doing weight bearing activities that will cause it to flare up.
Many women aren‘t going to get an early diagnosis of this condition (unless they had it in previous pregnancies) because they‘re not sure if they should seek help, so instead they wait to see if the pain goes away. If you notice problems, you should seek help as as soon as possible so treatment can be started. Not all health care providers are going to be aware of the condition and you may have to ask for a referral to a physiotherapist (or see another doctor). Surprisingly, even some physiotherapists aren't knowledgeable about Pelvic Girdle Pain so ask around before you make an appointment.
The treatment for Pelvic Girdle pain will depend on the severity of the pain you are having. In some cases, safe pain medication is going to do the trick for relieving it, but in some severe instances a doctor may prescribe something stronger. Always ask your doctor or midwife before taking medication while you’re pregnant. For others, a pelvic support belt may do the trick while they’re out and about. Physical therapy will help some women, and if you go this route for your pain, you need to make sure to visit one that specializes in women's health. The best bet to get adequate sleep when suffering from PGP is to use a pillow between your legs in combination with a maternity slide sheet to help you switch sides in bed with less effort
Tips to Help Avoid Pelvic Girdle Pain
While there’s not much you can do to avoid getting pregnancy related PGP altogether, you can make a few adjustments to try and avoid it becoming too bad.
- Rest when needed
- Do not lift and carry heavy objects
- Try sitting instead of standing when doing things, for example cooking
- Practice Kegel exercises
- Do not step up and over objects (such as baby gates (or fences, if you’re a burglar))
- When rising from any type of position (specially from your bed or when getting out of the car), keep your legs glued together (not literally, but you know … )
- Try to not twist your waist or put pressure on your pelvis
- When standing, try to keep an even weight distribution between your legs
- Using crutches or a rolling walker can help take weight off your pelvis. Maybe not really cool to walk around like grandma but it works to ease the pain