Discovering that you’re pregnant is normally one of the most celebrated moments of your life, and everyone would love to have an easy pregnancy, where they feel like they are blooming and full of health and vitality. For a lot of women, this is the case, but for approximately 1 in 5, it can be a less than joyous experience, as they suffer from pelvic pain (sometimes called Pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain – PPGP, or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction – SPD).
Common symptoms of this are pain either across the lower back, across the front of the pelvis or around your perineum, with a grinding feeling or pain in the thighs as variations. Certain activities can set it off – like climbing stairs, taking a large step (forwards or sideways) or getting out of a car.
It is essentially caused by your baby sitting between the bones of your pelvis, which makes them spread and move to accommodate it. This is also why, as the baby gets bigger, you are more likely to experience pain, or it is more severe. This movement in itself can be painful, but it can also affect nerves that travel to the thighs for example, which is why the pain isn’t always just in the pelvis.
Often women think that being pregnant means that they have to put up with pain or discomfort –and to some extent, this can be true – it isn’t all going to be roses and balloons! But there is a huge difference between discomfort and debilitating pain which stops you getting around – your life shouldn’t need to be put on hold just because you’re having a baby.
The best thing is to see a Physiotherapist who specialises in musculoskeletal problems – and they will be able to assess what is going on, to listen to you say where the pain is, how bad it is and what makes it better or worse. They will then give you advice on how to make yourself more comfortable – this can be a range of options including mobilisations of the joints / ligaments in the pelvis, specific massage techniques or a pelvic belt (these can be tricky to fit though, so make sure your physio has fitted one before).
The main thing is that you shouldn’t spend your pregnancy in pain – it should be a wonderful time for you and it is often something that is really easy to improve with a few physio sessions. If you have any questions about it, then you can Ask-A-Physio for free advice.