Pelvic pain in pregnancy is experienced by a very large number of women. It can be quite mild just taking the form of aches and niggles in the pelvis and groin area, It can result in severe pain and discomfort and then having difficulties in getting around and walking. It can take many forms from tingling and aches in the groin, pelvis, or abdomen, right the way through to shooting pains and muscles spasms.
Pelvic pain used to be known as SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) but in more recent years is usually referred to as the more generic PPGP (Pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain) or just PGP.
The function of the pelvis is to support the abdomen and provide structure for the whole skeleton. Pelvic pain is caused by tightness and stiffness in the ligaments and muscles around the pelvis, but also by the hormone Relaxin allowing the ligaments to overstretch and to have to work really hard to support the body.
10 top tips for helping pelvic pain
1. Keep knees and feet no wider than hips
Try to keep your legs together as much as you can, and avoid opening your knees wider than your hips.
Keep your feet parallel and try to evenly distribute your weight onto both feet. This helps to keep good alignment in the pelvis and prevents putting undue strain on the ligaments.
Take small steps – walk slowly, and take small steps to ensure your legs don’t widen too much. The principle of wide knees also applies to width forwards and backwards.
It can also help to swing your hips when walking to aid the natural movement of the pelvis. Yes, you will waddle anyway, so you might as well embrace it!
Come up onto tiptoe first when going upstairs, which raises you up a bit so your leg doesn’t have to lift so far.
You can also try to go upstairs sideways, making sure you raise your knee next to your other leg, before widening just enough to reach the next step. Take it slowly and don’t go up more than one stair at a time.
Getting out of a car, for example, means you should swing both legs out together, and then get up. You might have to rethink a whole host of movements you currently take for granted.
2. Work on your posture & keep moving
Tuck pelvis under before walking, and try to lift your breast bone as much as you can. This gives extra space in your abdomen and stops your baby and your organs squashing into the pelvis and putting more pressure on it.
Try not to stagnate but to keep yourself flexible. Sitting on a birth ball can really help with core strength and regular movement.
Doing pelvic floor exercises can also help build up core strength in this area.
3. Wear proper shoes
Wear proper supportive shoes or trainers, that fit you well and are not to tight. It goes without saying to avoid high heels completely.
Many mums find their feet get bigger in pregnancy due to the extra weight making the bones of the feet splay out more. You buy new clothes for your bump so consider getting new shoes.
4. Don’t lift anything heavy (including kids)
Your ligaments are already overstretched and so the last thing you want to do is give them more work. Don’t lift anything heavier than your handbag.
It can be hard not carrying your kids, especially if you have little ones, so try to get down to their level as much as you can. Sometimes it is unavoidable but you can always try a baby carrier so you have got extra support carrying their weight.
5. Healthy bowels
Although another ailment commonly experienced in pregnancy, it really helps to stay free of constipation.
The extra pressure and strain on the pelvis and surrounding ligments and muscles is not going to help. Eat plenty of foods that encourage regular bowel movements, such as prunes, dates, coconut.
6. Use a support belt
You can get support belts through the NHS or online and many mums swear by them. They can help provide support to the pelvis by literally holding it place.
7. See an Osteopath
Cranio-Sacral osteopathy, or chiropractic are highly recommended. This kind of manipulation of the pelvis and pelvic muscles can help to realign the pelvis, and posture generally, and in most cases will improve pelvic pain. It is not cheap. Get over it and do it anyway. Acupuncture can also be effective.
At the end of the day the pain will not go away completely until after the pregnancy has ended. Don’t overdo it and accept as much help as you can. Train your husband in ironing, get your mum to do the hoovering. Seek help and use it.
Can I do pregnancy yoga with pelvic pain?
It is perfectly possible to attend a pregnancy yoga class with pelvic pain and gain all sorts of benefits from it. It is essential to advise your teacher about your PGP and to still follow the tips above – particular the first point (1) about keeping knees no wider than hips. You need to take it easy and some positions will just not be appropriate but any teacher worth their salt will adjust their class to suit your needs. Pregnancy yoga is about much more than just yoga poses.
In Birthzang’s pregnancy yoga with active birth class we do gentle warm-ups, birth preparation techniques, breathing practice, pelvic floor awareness and a good long relaxation in every class. Plus it is a great place to meet other mums-to-be in your local area and have a safe place to swap stories, advice and support.
Can I have a natural labour & birth with pelvic pain?
It is also perfectly possible to have a natural and active birth when suffering from pelvic pain. You still need to keep your legs not too far apart (point (1) again), but if you lean forwards there is plenty of space for the baby to come out even with your legs closed. What is most important is that lying on your back with PGP in labour will hurt. A lot. And if you do chose to have an epidural you need to ensure your care providers still don’t widen your legs unduly.
As with all health advice, Birthzang is no substitute for a midwife or GP. If you are suffering from pelvic pain in any form or with any severity, please do seek professional advice.