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How to relieve pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy
How to relieve pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy

How to relieve pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy

Pelvic Girdle pain (PGP)  is described as pain that is  anywhere in your lower back, pelvis, or hips. Fortunately, with early diagnosis, many women can get pain relief and pain management during pregnancy. It is important to let your gynecologist know if you are experiencing pain in your pelvic area that prevents you from doing your normal activities and difficulty when sleeping. 

What is pelvic girdle pain?

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) also known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), occurs in about 25 percent of all pregnant women at some point during pregnancy. It is also known as Symphysis pubis pain. Fortunately, pelvic girdle pain is not harmful to you or your baby. However, it is uncomfortable and could make it difficult to do daily tasks and activities.  PGP is affected by the 3 main joints in the pelvis and its surrounding muscles, ligaments and nerves.

What causes pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy?

Pelvic girdle pain is the result of loose ligaments as a result of the influx of pregnancy hormones. Over time, pelvic girdle joints become misaligned due to the added pressure of the growing baby. It can change your posture and cause misalignment of your pelvic girdle joints and hips. 

Symptoms of pregnancy pelvic girdle pain

  • Some women may feel a clicking or grinding in the pelvic area when moving 
  • Pain when spreading thighs away from each other
  • Pain in one side or both sides of the lower back 
  • Pain on your perineum 
  • Pregnancy waddle
  • Pain that travels down your leg 
  • Pelvic floor muscles weaken

What does pelvic girdle pain feel like?

Pelvic girdle pain usually feels like shooting pain in the lower part of the pelvis area. It can also be in the lower back, thighs, or legs. Some women describe sex as painful. Certain moves can cause snapping or grinding sounds in the lower pelvic area. Pain can vary in intensity and doing increased activity could cause the pain to worsen. 

When does pelvic girdle pain start in pregnancy?

Most women who develop PGP will start to notice symptoms around 12 to 14 weeks into their pregnancy. This is because the hormone relaxin hits its peak around this time. 

How to relieve pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy

Pelvic support band

During the second trimester, you will start to notice the need for a pelvic support band. This helps relieve strain on the ligaments and decrease the symptoms associated with PGP. Look for a V sling pelvic girdle belt, these are specifically designed for women who have pelvic pain associated with pregnancy. They can even be worn day and night. Providing you 24 hours of comfort.

Exercises

Pelvic exercises target your pelvis, back, and inner thighs. Consider trying to hold each move for around 5 to 10 seconds with 4 to 5 intervals. It is important to listen to your body if you are overstretching your ligaments. There are great resources provided by your gynecologist on which exercises work best to relieve PGP pain. 

Prenatal massage

Massage is fantastic when you are pregnant. Your body goes through a lot of changes and this tends to cause pain and discomfort. Prenatal massage is especially good for PGP pain. The massage therapist works by targeting troublesome muscles and putting pressure on the muscles to relieve pain. 

Rest

I know at times it is hard to ask for and accept help. A lot of the time we don’t want to inconvenience people. However, it is important if you have pain that you need to accept help from your spouse, family or a friend. 

Hot and/or ice packs

Applying heat can help reduce pain but it can also make it worse as well. Heat packs can tend to increase inflammation. Consider alternating between hot and cold packs. Cold packs work great by reducing inflammation. 

Kegel exercises 

Kegel exercises are very easy to do and you can do them anyway and at any time. The process involved contracting and releasing your pelvic muscles. Your pelvic muscles are the same muscles that are activated when holding in your urine. When experiencing pelvic girdle pain, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is important. The process includes contracting your pelvic muscles and holding them for 3 to 5 seconds. Relax those muscles for 5 seconds, then repeat. 

Use a pregnancy support pillow

Sleep positions are very important during pregnancy, but it is especially important when you have Pelvic girdle pain. Using a pregnancy pillow helps you maintain the proper sleeping position, which is on your side. It is important to keep your knees and hips symmetrical to reduce or prevent the intensity of the symptoms you are already feeling. Side sleeping with a pillow also helps take the weight off major pressure points in lower abdominal joints. Pregnancy pillows are also multi-use and adjustable to fit your needs throughout pregnancy and postpartum. 

Common Exercises that help with Pelvic Girdle Pain 

Pelvic Circles

While sitting on a yoga or birthing ball, make continuous circles on the ball in either direction. It is important to swap each direction to ensure you are getting the proper movement around hips and pelvis. This exercise helps increase the mobility around your hips and pelvis. 

Cat stretch 

This stretch is great for stretching your lower middle back. This pain location is common in PGP. This stretch includes getting on all fours with knees and hands on the ground. Round your back and push the middle part of your back towards the sky. Be sure to have someone nearby that can help you stand back up as an extra support. 

Will pelvic girdle pain go away?

There’s no denying it, pelvic girdle pain is very uncomfortable and painful. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Most women see relief after the birth of their baby. In rare cases, PGP can continue for up to 6 weeks as pregnancy decreases after birth. During your 6-week check, be sure to let your gynecologist know if you are still experiencing symptoms associated with Pelvic girdle pain. 

When to seek professional help

  • it is difficult for you to move around 
  • It hurts to get up from a sitting position 
  • It is hard to get comfortable in bed and/ or adjust your sleeping position
  • Difficulty going up and down your stairs due to pain from shifting weight 
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