Pelvic Pain during Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the body goes through many changes, including elevation of a range of hormones, including progesterone and relaxin. Progesterone helps to keep the uterus relaxed whilst relaxin helps to relax the ligaments around the pelvis as well as the uterine (pelvic floor) muscles in order to prepare for delivery. Although both of these hormones have an important role in preparing the body for birth, they can also lead to other musculoskeletal complications.

The most common aches and pains that women experience during pregnancy usually involve the pelvis and lower back, along with generalised aches and pains in the joints. A short term reduction in blood pressure and occasional dizziness are also commonplace during pregnancy. Around the pelvis, the two most common areas of pain are:

  • The sacroiliac joint (SIJ), where the spine joins the pelvis at the base of the lower back and;
  • The pubic symphysis, the point in which the pelvic bones meets at the front.

 

Due to the effects of relaxin, the ligaments that normally keep these joints stable can start to loosen and cause pain. This can be due to subtle movement within the joints themselves, which are often aggravated by particular movements.

With either SIJ or pubic symphysis pain often there is pain or discomfort when climbing stairs, walking up or down hills, putting on underwear or even simply getting in and out of bed. To reduce your pain, one of the simplest things is to reduce your level of aggravating activities and substitute these with a more appropriate exercise program. A pelvic belt can help to provide compression across the joints and reduce the amount of movement occurring. Discuss these options with your physiotherapist to identify which might be the most appropriate for you.

The severity of pain can vary from each individual, with some managing well with conservative management including a belt and activity modification. Most women find that these strategies are appropriate for managing their symptoms.

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