Pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy

18 October 2018

Did you know 70% of all women experience some back pain during pregnancy?

Pregnancy hormones cause the ligaments around your pelvis and lumbar spine to become lax to allow the baby to grow. However this ligament laxity combined with the weight of the baby, postural changes and joint instability can cause lower back pain and pelvic girdle pain.

Pelvic girdle pain

Pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy is very common, and can be very uncomfortable. Pelvic girdle pain can start during any stage of pregnancy and it can become worse further into the pregnancy, although it varies from person to person.

Typical symptoms include pain at the front or back of the pelvis, pain when getting in and out of the car, pain during walking, dressing and when turning over in bed.

This pain can spread to the abdomen, hips and inner thighs and can be very tender to touch.

Pelvic girdle pain may be diagnosed by your physiotherapist or GP after they assess your pelvic alignment, movement and history of symptoms.

Pelvic girdle pain can be treated by physiotherapy to correct the alignment of your pelvis and to strengthen the muscles around your pelvis. A support belt may also help with the pain. Many hospitals have classes for women with pelvic girdle pain so make sure you ask at your antenatal appointments. Most women find that their symptoms resolve after they give birth however sometimes it can take longer.

Tips to help with pelvic girdle pain

  • When changing from lying to sitting (or vice versa), lie on your side, keep your knees close together, and swing your legs over the edge of the bed at the same time. Try to avoid pulling yourself up from lying on your back.
  • Sleeping with a pillow between your knees can help the position of your pelvis.
  • When turning in bed or getting in and out of the car; try to keep your knees close together.
  • Try to avoid taking the stairs
  • Avoid lifting, bending and squatting.
  • When walking try to take small steps.

Low back pain in pregnancy

Low back pain is also very common during pregnancy. This is caused by lax ligaments, altered posture, altered gait and the weight of the baby. Generally low back pain is nothing to worry about but if you are concerned then you should see your GP. Symptoms can vary from a mild dull ache across your lower back to sharp, shooting pains down your legs.

You should speak to your GP to find out what medication you can take if the pain is severe. A physiotherapist can treat the back pain with massage, exercises, pain management advice etc but there are also things you can do at home to help.

  • Try to ‘pace and space’ activities.
  • Spread out tasks involving lifting or bending and make sure that you rest at regular intervals.
  • Heat can help soothe muscle tension, so a warm (but not hot) bath can help.
  • Gentle massage.
  • Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees.
  • Gentle stretches.

When you start ante-natal classes you should tell the physiotherapist/ midwife that you are suffering from lower back pain.

For more information on pregnancy take a look at our pregnancy and childcare centre.

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