Updated: 2019, Aug 1

Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy: What You Need To Know

Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy: What You Need To Know

Pelvic girdle pain is a normal condition during pregnancy that virtually affects 80% of pregnant women. This discomfort in the pelvic region is mainly experienced during the third trimester when the stress applied onto the pelvic area. Moreover, the pain becomes more intense and unbearable during the lightening phase when the fetus drops into the mother’s pelvis. This happens approximately two weeks prior to delivery of the fetus. Nonetheless, pelvic girdle pain can also be noted during the onset of labor. The pain felt can range from bearable aches to unbearable sensations.

What Causes Pelvic Girdle Pain during Pregnancy?

The main cause of pelvic girdle pain is the deep burrowing of the fetus into the maternal pelvis in preparation for birth. The size of the fetus puts increasing stress onto the maternal pelvic bones, joints, and muscles, as it continues to dropdown. However, there are also other factors that may contribute to the intensity of the pelvic girdle pain felt. These are:

  • Increase in maternal weight. Some weight gain is inevitable, especially that the mother is not only feeding herself but the growing fetus as well. However, excessive weight gain can add to the risk of developing problems.
  • Changes in the center of gravity. As the fetus grows bigger, the center of gravity of the mother changes. Thus, the stability of the pelvis becomes affected.
  • Strenuous or repetitive activities or physical work.
  • Previous trauma or injury on the pelvic area.
  • Hormones of pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones are believed to affect the quality of the connective tissues in the pelvic region. Therefore, they can also contribute to the pain felt.
  • Exercise routines and posture. Exercise routines and postures that strain or increase sacroiliac movement can further exacerbate the pelvic girdle pain.
  • The lie or position of the fetus. The lie or position of the fetus measures the pressure applied to the pelvic area which contributes to the intensity of pain felt.
  • The quality of the mother’s connective tissue, which may influence the stability of the maternal pelvis.

Signs and Symptoms of Pelvic Girdle Pain during Pregnancy

Pregnancy changes the pelvic girdle’s musculoskeletal position and function. However, there are instances when the pregnant woman’s body finds it difficult to adjust to the changing and increasing demands placed upon the pelvis. As a result, the following signs and symptoms arise:

  • Pain. Depending upon several factors, such as a quality of the connective tissue, pain can range from achy, burning, sharp, tender, chronic or acute. Furthermore, the intensity of the pain felt can also be characterized as severe and intermittent or constant and disabling.
  • Pelvic Girdle Pain during Pregnancy
  • Clicking Sound. This can be heard in the pelvic area, which may indicate a misalignment in the joints and lax in the ligaments.
  • Bladder dysfunction
  • Waddling gait

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What can be Done To Get Rid Of Pelvic Girdle Pain?

Before trying any remedy, it is important to consult a healthcare provider to assess the situation. A healthcare provider may refer to the pregnant woman to a specialist or an obstetric physiotherapist who can suggest remedies for the specific condition. Moreover, other measures that can help prevent the worsening of the condition include the following:

  • Do not disregard the pain felt. When the pain becomes disturbing, it could be a sign that there is a need for the pregnant woman to see her healthcare provider.
  • When walking, take shorter steps instead of taking longer strides. This will keep sacroiliac movement to a minimum.
  • Walking is a good exercise for pregnant women. However, when pelvic pain is present, it is important to avoid walking too far because it can exacerbate the pain. In cases when there is a need for long walks, a crutch or wheelchair can be used to help support and avoid extreme movements, especially in the pelvic area.
  • Rest whenever possible.
  • Wearing a support garment to prevent or decrease sacroiliac movement can help alleviate pain. However, it is important to check with the healthcare provider before doing so.
  • Avoid sitting down with legs crossed.
  • Engage one’s pelvic floor muscles before coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
  • Sit on chairs that have a backrest and make use of a cushion to support the lower back.
  • Avoid straddling positions.
  • Sleep on either side with a pillow to support the upper leg and belly.
  • Do not engage or avoid exercises that involve the bouncing of the legs.
  • Keep knees together when getting out of bed.
  • Sit down when wearing one’s underpants, shoes and trousers.
  • Make use of footwears that have low heels and those that have arch support. As much as possible, avoid wearing high heels.
  • Engage in pelvic exercises as prescribed by one’s obstetric physiotherapist. One common example is the pelvic tilt.
  • Take a warm bath. Warm water relaxes the pelvic muscles and temporarily relieve the pain felt at the pelvic area.
  • Get a prenatal massage from certified therapists. Remember to check their licenses to make sure that they are experts in the field.

Peony C Echavez

Peony is a registered nurse and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a lar

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