Many women develop pelvic pain during pregnancy. This is sometimes called pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPGP) or Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD).
Pregnancy related pelvic pain could involve a few uncomfortable symptoms caused by stiffness in your pelvic joints (SI and Pubic Symphysis joints) or the joints moving unevenly at either the back or front of your pelvis.
PPGP and SPD are not harmful to the baby, but it can cause severe pain around your pelvic area and make it difficult for you to get around. Different women have different symptoms, and PPGP is worse for some women than others. Symptoms can include:
- Pain over the pubic bone at the front in the center
- Pain across one or both sides of your lower back
- Pain in the area between your vagina and anus.
Pain can also radiate to your thighs, and some women feel or hear a clicking or grinding in the pelvic area. The pain can be most noticeable when you are:
- Going upstairs
- Turning over in bed
It’s estimated that it can affect up to one in five pregnant women to some degree.
It’s not known exactly why pelvic pain affects some women, but it’s thought to be linked to a number of issues including previous damage to the pelvis, pelvic joints moving unevenly, and the weight or position of the baby.
Factors that may make a woman more likely to develop PPGP and SPD include:
- A previous to pregnancy history of lower back or pelvic girdle pain
- Previous injury to the pelvis (for example, from a fall or car accident)
- A physically demanding job
Symphysis pubis dysfunction, or SPD, means that the ligaments that normally keep your pubic bones aligned during pregnancy become too relaxed and stretchy too soon before birth (due to the increased Relaxin hormone released during pregnancy). This can make the pelvic joint unstable, causing some pretty uncomfortable sensations and pain.
The incidence of diagnosed SPD is about one in every 300 pregnancies.
Symptoms can include:
- Difficulty when walking and wrenching pain (feels as though your pelvis is tearing apart). Typically, the pain is focused on the pubic area, but in some women it radiates to the upper thighs and perineum.
The pain can worsen when you’re walking and doing any weight-bearing activity, particularly one that involves lifting one leg, such as when you’re climbing upstairs, getting dressed, getting in and out of a car, even turning over in bed.
The cause behind SPD is the hormone called relaxin, which makes your ligaments stretchy so your baby can ease their way into the world. Sometimes, relaxin does its job too well, making the ligaments around your pelvic bone during pregnancy loose way before baby is ready to come out, which causes instability and unfortunately pain in the pelvic joint.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
In very rare cases, the joint may gape apart, a condition called diastasis symphysis pubis or symphyseal separation, which could cause more serious pain in your pelvis, groin, hips and buttocks.
Very rarely, SPD can make a vaginal delivery impossible and your practitioner may opt for a C-section instead. And in even more rare cases, SPD can worsen after delivery, requiring medical intervention. But for most moms, once your baby is born and relaxin production ceases, your ligaments will return to normal. Doing Pelvic floor exercises (like Kegels) greatly help the pubic bones and the pelvic girdle as a whole return to normal.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body secretes increased amounts of the hormone relaxin, which makes cartilage, ligaments and other soft tissues more flexible in preparation for childbirth. There is normally a 4-5 mm gap between the bones of the pubic symphysis. However, that space can increase another 2-3 mm during pregnancy, often causing both pelvic pain and pain in the lower back.
Chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment option for dealing with pelvic pain during pregnancy that is drug-free and has been proven to reduce pain symptoms and improve quality of life both during and after pregnancy.
The best thing you can do is to see a chiropractor like Dr. Harmony Mir who has special interest prenatal care. She will help relieve pregnancy-related back, hip and pelvic pain by relaxing the tense muscles, realigning the spine and balancing the pelvis. Prenatal chiropractic treatment involves safe and gentle adjustments, massage, exercise and stretching.
Chiropractic techniques are adapted for belly growth and modified using props like pregnancy pillows and customized tables.
In addition to gentle, non-invasive chiropractic treatment, here are some tips you can follow to help keep your spine aligned throughout pregnancy:
Exercise! Keep your core strong so it can support your spine. There are so many benefits to swimming, yoga and other low-impact exercise programs.
Sleep well! You know you need to rest, but are you sleeping smart? Your growing uterus can place pressure on the large blood vessels in your abdomen and restrict blood flow. Sleep on your left side and place a pillow between your knees to keep your spine in proper alignment.
Think twice! Maybe put those super cute, incredibly uncomfortable shoes away until after the baby is born. Rest frequently with your feet elevated. Don’t lift any heavy objects (and try your best with your toddlers) – Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you or a loved one would like to get help, Dr. Harmony Mir is here for you.
Until Next time….