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A Guide to Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy

Torso of pregnant woman with backache - holding back

Pregnancy brings so much joy and excitement, but there can also be some unpleasant symptoms that can go along with a growing belly. Many women experience pelvic pain during their pregnancy. This pain can be caused by the weight of the baby and the adjustments your body makes to carry the baby. This pregnancy-related pelvic pain is referred to as pelvic girdle pain or PGP. 

According to a 2015 study on pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy, “The pelvic girdle is a ring of bones around your body at the base of your spine. PGP is pain in the front and/or the back of your pelvis that can also affect other areas such as the hips or thighs. It can affect the sacroiliac joints at the back and/or the symphysis pubis joint at the front. PGP is common, affecting 1 in 5 pregnant women.”

Normally, the bones that create the pelvic girdle work together during movement. But the extra weight of carrying a baby can cause the bones and joints to move unevenly. When the bones don’t move in sync, the pelvic girdle slowly becomes less stable and it can start causing pain. If you were prone to back pain pre-pregnancy, you are more likely to experience PGP during pregnancy. Although PGP can be uncomfortable to deal with, it cannot hurt your baby.

PGP Symptoms

PGP is more common later in pregnancy as the baby grows. Symptoms can range from mild to severe but can be treated or alleviated. Symptoms can include: 

  • Grinding in the pelvic region
  • Pain in the lower back, hips, pubic region, groin, and further down to the thighs and knees
  • Pain that is worsened when:
    • Walking for long distances
    • Walking on uneven surfaces
    • Moving your knees apart (example: getting in and out of the car)
    • Putting pressure on one leg
    • Rolling over in bed

PGP Treatments

Depending on the severity of your PGP, there are different treatment options. Talk to your midwife or doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you. Here are some of the most common treatments to help alleviate pain:

  • Warm baths, as long as you keep your core body temperature below 101°F
  • Placing hot packs or ice packs on the painful region 
  • Acupuncture
  • Visiting a chiropractor who specializes in treating pregnant women. Talk to your midwife or doctor before visiting a chiropractor to make sure it is right for you.
  • Avoid movements that increase pain. Talk to your provider to see how pain-triggering movements can be adjusted.
  • Exercises that help relieve the pain and strengthen your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles
  • Wearing a support band 

In most cases, women who are able to receive an early PGP diagnosis can start seeking a treatment that works for them. Symptoms and pain shouldn’t get worse and you should be able to carry on with your day-to-day activities.

Talk to A Midwife

Pelvic girdle pain can be an uncomfortable or painful pregnancy symptom for some women. This is why it’s important to consult a professional at the first sign of PGP symptoms, so a treatment plan can be put into place. At City of Oaks Midwifery, we believe in caring for the whole woman in all stages of her life. If you have any questions about PGP, we are here to help. Call (919) 351-8253 to make an appointment at our Raleigh, NC midwifery practice.

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