A very common symptom that many pregnant women experience is pelvic girdle pain. This pain is felt anywhere around the pelvis, hips, sacrum and pubic symphysis (the bony bit right at the front where the two sides of the pelvis meets) which is caused by a hormone called relaxin.
Now firstly, it is always important to get any pain around the pelvis during pregnancy checked out. if you are suffering from this type of pain it is really important that you get this diagnosed by a medical professional.
However if you have been told you have pelvic girdle pain or pubic symphysis disfunction then read on!
So what is pelvic girdle pain?
During pregnancy your body produces the hormone relaxin that allows the different sections of the pelvis that were very much stuck together, to move much more freely. This helps during labour with the beautiful dance between mum and baby to deliver the baby naturally, as the sacrum has to move out the way to allow baby to pass through the pelvis. However these joints are not designed to move (much) at any other time of life. This new ability to move plus the added changes to the pregnant body can cause some aches and pains, as early as 16 weeks!
Types of pain
In my experience clients tend to have pain in 2 different ways, with a small proportion having pain in both directions.
1. Forwards and backwards (sagittal plane). Clients would have pain:
2. Side to side
In/out of car
In/out of bath
Turning in bed
Easy changes you can make daily to relieve your discomfort
1. Walk with shorter strides
If you have pain moving forwards and backwards then shortening the length your strides during walking can help to reduce the movement of the pelvis. You may need to take more steps to get somewhere, but it should be much more comfortable
2. Walk like a man!
Men tend to walk with their feet directly underneath their hips. if you were to look at their footsteps in the sand, each foot has a distinct line. Women walk with their feet much closer together, following one line for both feet. This gives the classic feminine 'bum wiggle' as the pelvis rocks side to side. When you have pelvic girdle pain this can cause an increased amount of discomfort. Walking with a wider gap between feet can help with your pain!
3. Stretch your inner thighs
For many women who have pelvic girdle pain, they may have quite tight, painful adductors (inner thigh muscles). It is so important to loosen these off, to reduce the tension through the front of the pelvis and allow you to get into the most efficient birthing positions without discomfort. See future blogs for the best way to stretch them!
4. Move in/out of the bath, car or bed with your legs together
By having the legs together, it reduces the movement of one side of the pelvis compared to the other side. Therefore try and roll in bed with legs together or sit on the side of the bath or car seat then swing both legs over at the same time.
5. Sit down to put your trousers on
Doing anything on one leg is going to aggravate your pelvis. Sitting down to put your trousers, socks or shoes on will help to relieve the pressure on the pelvis. You'll be surprised with the difference this can make!
Pelvic girdle pain is very difficult to cure, however there are lots of different things that can be done to make it as comfortable as possible for you during your pregnancy.
Check out the Pelvic Obstetric Gynaecological Physiotherapists (POGP) site for excellent resources about more tips and tricks for pelvic girdle pain www.pogp.co.uk