Pregnancy is a beautiful gift that is accompanied by many new experiences that are not just emotional, but physical as well. The truth is, no two pregnancies are alike. You don’t always know what to expect during your pregnancy. What symptoms and pains you may feel with your first pregnancy, you may not feel with your second pregnancy. However, about 50 percent of women experience SI joint pain during any time during their pregnancy. SI joint pain is the result of the hormone called relaxin. Relaxin does exactly how the name sounds. Relaxin relaxes your muscles, joints and the ligaments surrounding your pelvis, hips and lower back. This can be especially painful when you are carrying the weight of a growing baby without the proper support.
What is SI Joint pain?
SI joint pain is formally known as Sacroiliac joint pain. It can occur anytime during pregnancy but it is more prevalent in later pregnancy because of the pressure from the baby being pushed on your pelvis causing leg and back pain. Sacroiliac joints are located in the pelvis and are responsible for the distribution of weight between the upper body and legs. Pelvic girdle pain is associated with pain that can arise during pregnancy. This is because pregnancy puts pressure on the pelvic muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) occurs in about 50% of all pregnant women. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help with PGP during pregnancy to keep you more comfortable during your journey to motherhood.
Why does the SI joint hurt during pregnancy?
The hormone relaxin causes your muscles and ligaments to relax to accommodate the growing baby during pregnancy. The issue arises because the hormone relaxin does not solely relax the muscles surrounding the baby, it relaxes other muscles as well. When these joints and ligaments relax, other muscles and joints have to compensate and take on more pressure than it can normally handle which can be quite painful over time. These joints and muscles are not accustomed to carrying all that extra weight.
SI joint pain during pregnancy is often accompanied by.
- Insomnia due to the inability to find a comfortable sleeping position
- Unexplained weight gain
- Difficulty doing everyday activities because of the pain associated with PGP
- Have difficulty standing from sitting
- Uncomfortable when walking
What does sacroiliac pain feel like?
Sacroiliac pain can differ in intensity and frequency depending on the position and amount of exertion and weight bearing on your pelvis. Most women describe the pain as an aching or shooting pain. The pain is common in the lower abdomen, pelvis, buttocks, outer thigh, or lower back. The most common symptoms of SI joint pain include:
- Loss of balance
- Weak bladder control
- Difficulty moving
- Stiffness or soreness of back, legs, and hips
- Dull or shooting pain located around the hips and legs and lower back
Is SI Joint pain common in early pregnancy?
Because women’s hormones fluctuate throughout pregnancy and a constant growing belly, it is very common to have SI joint pain start in the first trimester. Most women start to notice back pain as their hormones cause muscles and ligaments to relax. This joint pain can continue until birth or in rare cases up to three years after birth.
Tips to help SI joint pain while pregnant
Prenatal yoga provides many benefits during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga works by targeting muscles that are often affected during pregnancy and birth. Prenatal yoga helps strengthen the pelvis and counteracts the SI joint by doing various stretches to ensure the pelvis stays in place. It is common during pregnancy for it to move out of place from the relaxing of the muscles from changes in the hormone relaxin. Also, prenatal yoga helps strengthen hip movements and your glutes. Prenatal yoga and postnatal yoga is often very relaxing and provides a lot of benefits.
Benefits of prenatal yoga include:
- Improved sleep
- Helps combat nausea, back pain, and hip pain
- Relieves stress and anxiety through structured breathing and connecting your mind and body
- Increases flexibility which aid in childbirth
- Helps relieve headaches
Pelvic girdle support belt
Consider investing in a pelvic support belt. These are created specifically with pregnancy in mind. They are designed to provide support under the belly and lift the belly to alleviate pressure on the hips and pelvis. Support belts provide high support and medium compression, providing the perfect pair for you and your baby during pregnancy. They have many benefits and offer an all-natural approach to helping with SI joint pain. Most women benefit from support belts that have an option for a built-in pocket to place a heating patch or ice pack on the back for added relief. Some belts are even eligible for insurance reimbursement as well. Be sure to check with your insurance if you have questions or concerns on coverage. Pelvic support belts provide relief from:
- Pressure on your bladder
- Added pressure during exercise
- Back pains
- Reduces pelvic pain and discomfort
- Alleviates back pain
The way you sleep can worsen or relieve symptoms associated with SI joint pain. It is very important to sleep on your side. Not just to relieve SI joint pain, but because studies have shown that sleeping on your side is safest for you and baby. Be sure to place a pillow between your legs. Lay the pillow flat starting at your pubic bone and ending at your knees. Sleep with both knees bent on either side of the pillow. Consider investing in a pregnancy pillow as it would provide support for your hips and proper support under your pregnancy belly.
How long does SI joint pain last?
Studies have shown that most women see relief within four months of giving birth. However, about 20 percent of women could expect up to 3 years for relief.
When to seek professional help
There are many things you could do at home to manage SI joint pain. However, it is always important to let your gynecologist know if you are experiencing this pain. There are ways in which OBGYNs can help. Rest assured most people find great relief in doing exercises at home, using a heating patch on their back, and wearing a support belt.