How to deal with pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) during pregnancy is something that is relatively common and experienced by a number of women. PGP is caused by the joints moving unevenly at the front or back of your pelvis, which can lead to the pelvic girdle becoming less stable and can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms. Anyone can get PGP, but a history of lower back or pelvic girdle pain, previous injury to the pelvis, experiencing PGP in a previous pregnancy, having a multiple birth pregnancy or being overweight can increase your chances of experiencing it. Thankfully, PGP causes no harm to your baby, but it’s certainly not something pleasant to live with and may lead to the following symptoms:

  • Pain across the front of you pubic bone at around hip level
  • Tenderness on one of both sides of your lower back
  • Soreness between your vagina and anus (your perineum)
  • Pain that radiates down to your thighs
  • A clicking or grinding sound coming from your pelvic girdle

Certain activities can make your pelvic girdle pain worse, and unfortunately, they are the sorts of things that you will naturally do on a daily basis, such as walking up or down stairs, turning over in bed, or putting more weight on one leg than the other, at times such as getting out of a car or getting dressed.

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How can a women’s health physiotherapist treat pelvic girdle pain?

While PGP is harmless, it’s important that you don’t ignore it so that you can begin treatment earlier and reduce the risk of the pain getting worse as your pregnancy continues. A physiotherapist who specialises in obstetric pelvic joint problems will be able to help ease your pain and improve the stability and joint position of your pelvic girdle. Treatment for your pelvic girdle pain may include:

  • Manually treating your pelvic joints to improve movement of the pelvis, hip and spine
  • Advice on exercises that can strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor, stomach, back and hips
  • Suggestions on how to position yourself for labour and birth, as well as after the baby has been born, to minimise further discomfort
  • Advice on how to get out of bed and turn over in bed
  • Pain relief that is safe for you and your baby
  • The use of additional equipment, such as a pelvic support belt, to help ease the symptoms during the remained of your pregnancy
  • Kinesiotaping to stabilise the pelvic joints and bring pain relief

What tips can help you manage PGP during pregnancy?

While seeing a women’s health physiotherapist will help you manage your symptoms, there are other things you can do yourself that may also bring you relief. It’s advisable to remain as active as you can within your pain threshold, to reduce the risk of further seizing or stiffening of the muscles, but it’s also important to be kind to yourself and rest when you need to – don’t be too proud to ask for help with jobs around the house, for example. Wearing flat, supportive shoes, and sitting down to get dressed can also help. To keep your pelvis in a stable position, it can help to sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs and try to keep your knees together when you get out of a car.

Finally, if you are experiencing pelvic girdle pain, know that you are not alone and it’s always best to talk to someone about how you are feeling. Let those close to you know that you are uncomfortable so that they can help you where possible and speak to your women’s health physiotherapist about how to cope with the emotional impact of living with chronic pain.