Let’s be honest — pregnancy can be tough, and not every part of it is enjoyable. From the physical changes and mood swings to the sleepless nights and exhaustion, it isn’t easy, and that’s okay.
Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it boils down to soothing your pregnancy symptoms. There are many tips and tricks available — some new and others that are as old as time — to help pregnant women everywhere have a more comfortable and enjoyable pregnancy.
For instance, did you know that ginger is an ancient, natural remedy passed down from generation to generation as a safe, holistic approach to combat nausea via morning sickness?
According to many moms of the 21st century, eating pickles or sipping pickle juice is a surefire way to kick heartburn to the curb. Pickles and ice cream, anyone?
Dealing with swollen feet, restless legs, or cramps? Magnesium is a pregnancy trade secret that has been used for years to ease discomfort. (Try our non-greasy, moisture-packed magnesium lotion!)
In short, whatever not-so-wonderful pregnancy symptom you may experience, there’s wise advice on how to cure it. But what about lumbopelvic pain and pelvic girdle pain (PGP)?
Arguably the most unpleasant symptom of them all, pelvic girdle pain affects around one in four pregnant women in the United States and can sometimes be so unbearably painful that it makes simple tasks — such as getting out of bed and even sitting or standing — extremely difficult.
If you’re one of the many women who suffer from pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy, you’re in the right place. Read on as we explore this debilitating symptom to uncover what it is, the risk factors, and how to find relief so you can continue your daily activities.
Everything You Need To Know About Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) During Pregnancy
The pelvic girdle — aka pelvis or pelvic bone — connects your trunk to your legs and, therefore, plays an imperative role in the support and balance of your body. Though it may appear as the pelvic girdle is one giant bone, it’s actually made up of a few bones, including the:
- Ilium: the largest and most recognizable part of the pelvis resembling the top of a wing.
- Ischium: the bottom of the “wing,” this bone is located directly below the pubis.
- Pubis: the anterior part of the pelvic girdle that articulates with the pubic symphysis — a cartilaginous joint.
The pelvis also consists of four main joints — including the sacrococcygeal, lumbosacral, pubic symphysis, and sacroiliac — that are held together by various ligaments, such as the sacrotuberous, sacrospinous, and iliolumbar.
With this in mind, pelvic girdle pain (formerly known as symphysis pubis dysfunction or SPD) is simply the general term for all pelvic pain — from a stabbing sensation to a dull ache or tension.
For pregnant moms-to-be, pelvic girdle pain can strike at any point in the pregnancy, from the first trimester to late pregnancy in the third trimester, or start soon after delivery. The pain can feel constant or gradually come and go.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pelvic Girdle Pain?
Your pelvis is a lot like a girdle, entombing your uterus (aka womb) and bladder. So when you’re dealing with pelvic girdle pain, you may experience pain anywhere in and around your pelvis, such as your hips, tailbone, buttocks, the front of your pelvis, or even the back of your upper thighs (your symphysis pubis and both sacroiliac joints).
Other common signs and symptoms of PGP may include:
- Cramping pain similar to menstrual cramps
- Clicking sensation in the pelvis
- Lower back pain
- Pressure in the groin
- Worsening pain with movement
Pelvic girdle pain symptoms can range from irritating low back pain and extremely painful to just downright uncomfortable. It can greatly affect one’s quality of life, making simple tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, and moving around in bed hurt.
In addition, having sexual intercourse can be painful, and if you’re already a mom, picking up and carrying your tiny tot could cause PGP to flare.
What Causes Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy?
Many culprits can cause pelvic girdle pain, but for pregnant women, PGP is most commonly due to:
Hormonal Changes. When you’re pregnant, an important hormone called relaxin is released — this helps make your joints and ligaments super stretchy so your newborn can ease their way into the world.
Sometimes, an influx of relaxin can cause the pelvic ligaments to loosen too much, resulting in the notorious discomfort associated with PGP.
Pressure From Baby. Once you’ve reached the third trimester, you may start experiencing some heavy pressure in your pelvic area as the weight of your rapidly growing little one presses down on the nerves that run from your vagina into your legs.
In addition, you may be more likely to experience pregnancy-induced PGP if:
- You’ve hurt or injured your pelvis in the past
- You have weak pelvic floor muscles
- You have existing lower back or pelvic girdle pain
- You have a physically demanding job
- You have arthritis and joint pain
- You’ve had pelvic girdle pain in a previous pregnancy
- You have a higher body composition
- You’re having a multiple-birth pregnancy
- You have hypermobility syndrome — a condition where the joints stretch more than normal
Fortunately, pelvic girdle pain won’t directly affect your unborn baby, but it can lead to a more difficult pregnancy due to reduced mobility.
If you’re experiencing any of the unpleasant symptoms of PGP, be sure to let your obstetrician know as soon as possible so they can help you find relief. Without proper care, PGP can worsen, leading to severe pain and disability that could get in the way of everyday activities.
Top Pregnancy-Safe Tips To Help Relieve Pelvic Girdle Pain
Now that you know all about pelvic pain during pregnancy, let’s take a look at a few pregnancy-safe tips and tricks to help you find relief! Of course, there are other outlets you can try, like acupuncture. Some of the best tried-and-true ways to combat pelvic girdle pain include:
- Sleep with a comfy-cozy pillow between your legs to help decrease the pressure through the front of your pelvis.
- Use 8 Sheep Organics’ Magnesium Lotion to prevent restless legs and cramps, promote deeper, more restful sleep, and ease lower back and hip pains.
- Take smaller steps when walking to help decrease the stress on your pelvic joints and consider investing in a pelvic support belt (note that lumbar support systems aren't designed for PGP pain management).
- Practice good posture to keep your spine aligned and steer clear of positions that aggravate your pain.
- Find a local physiotherapist, chiropractor, or osteopath who understands pelvic girdle pain relief. With manual therapy, your doctor could help reduce the prevalence of pelvic flare-ups.
- Try hydrotherapy (aka aquatic therapy) to strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor, stomach, back, and hips to ease the postpartum period.
- Take a warm, soothing bath with our therapeutic bath salts to help relieve stress while easing muscle aches, pains, and tension.
From aches and pains when sitting and standing or even rolling over in bed, pelvic girdle pain is a pregnancy symptom that can certainly put a damper on your pregnancy. When left untreated or cared for, PGP can worsen, leading to even more pain and disability. It’s a definite detriment to women’s health.
Fortunately, you can try several tricks and tips that may help soothe pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy, such as hydrotherapy, magnesium, and our therapeutic bath salts.
You may also want to consider a physiologist specializing in PGP. They can gently manipulate your back, pelvis, or hips to loosen stiff areas for instant relief.
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic
Anatomy, Bony Pelvis, and Lower Limb, Pelvic Joints - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf
Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain and its relationship with relaxin levels during pregnancy: a systematic review | National Library of Medicine