Pregnancy may usher in a fulfilling experience of motherhood for you but it may also come with many obstacles. Different women experience it differently. We are going to talk about a condition here like pelvic pain during pregnancy that affects most women, if not all, during pregnancy.
Pelvic pain during pregnancy is such a condition that happens to up to 80 per cent of women at some point during their pregnancies. The area where you might feel pain is lower part of your abdomen, between your pelvis (hip) bones.
Keep on reading if you want to know more about it and how you can control it.
What Is Pelvic Pain? How Is It Different For Pregnant Women?
Pelvic pain can happen for a lot of reasons in many people but there are specific reasons because of which they happen to pregnant women at different times during their pregnancy especially third trimester. Pelvic pain during pregnancy is sometimes called pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).
This pain can happen any time during pregnancy and the pain sensation may differ based on that. It can range from a few aches, crampy feeling (like menstrual cramps), a feeling of heaviness on your pelvis and a searing sensation of growing pain below your belly. This pain can be caused by stiffness in your pelvic joints or because of uneven movement of your pelvis bones.
Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy and Third Trimester:
Your third and final trimester starts around week 28 of your pregnancy and lasts until week 40 which is month 7 until month 9. It ends with you giving birth around week 40.
Third trimester is when your baby is getting bigger rapidly. From week 28, the baby grows from 2.5 pounds to 6 to 9 pounds in week 40. This is because bodily systems and organs are being formed at this time of pregnancy like the digestive system, nervous system and some other parts of the body.
This increase in weight puts intense pressure on the pelvis of the mother. It is especially noticeable close to labour, the baby drops into the pelvic area two to four weeks before birth.
What is the Difference Between Pelvic Pain and Pelvic Pressure?
It is important to understand the difference between pelvic pain and pelvic pressure since both happen during the pregnancy.
Pelvic pain can differ in intensity but it happens in the pelvis area under your belly. Pelvic pressure, on the other hand, signals birth and happens when a woman goes into labour. The pain feels more like back pain with cramps (like during menstruation) and groin pain.
What are the Causes of Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?
The baby growing in your womb increases in size, burrows deeper into your pelvis. This also puts pressure on organs around your uterus and forces them to rearrange in preparation for birth.
The pain intensifies before birth because the baby’s head rotates in preparation of birth and presses against your organs in lower abdomen. This not only puts pressure on body organs but also bones, muscles and joints in your pelvis as well as your back.
For some women, pelvic joints become stiff and causes a lot of pain during movement. This makes it difficult for them to walk and sit whenever they want.
During early pregnancy, there can be some complications that may cause this pain like:
- Obstetric disorders (including normal changes of pregnancy, miscarriage)
- Gynecological disorders
- Other organs, particularly the digestive tract and urinary tract (UTIs, renal stones and appendicitis)
There might be a higher risk of obstetric disorders in case of: smoking, alcohol consumption, previous miscarriages, age over 35 etc.
What are the Symptoms of Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?
Following are the symptoms of this pain:
- Pain deep in the pubic area and groin and across your lower back
- Grinding or clicking sensation in your pelvis
- Pain spreading to thighs
- It is severe and unmanageable
- Walking, climbing stairs, parting legs or turning over in bed is making the pain worse
Treatment for Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy
You should maintain an active lifestyle even during your pregnancy by exercising. Make sure not to go beyond your limit. Only do those exercises that are in your comfort zone. If possible enrol in exercise or yoga class for pregnant women where a professional can help you.
Many people worry about taking pain medication during pregnancy as they might harm your baby inside your womb. Ask your doctor or midwife about it because there are many safe options out there that can help in pain relief. Make sure that you get it approved by a professional before you take it.
Your physiotherapist can give you best advice and treatment on what areas to treat through physiotherapy. Some main exercises will be as follows:
- Exercises to strengthen your pelvis, back and hip muscles
- Hands-on therapy to restore normal movement of muscles and joints in the pelvis
- Exercises in water
- Advice on labour and birth
You can also try alternative therapies to manage your pain like:
- Pain relief through TENS
- Meditation or yoga
- Massage therapy or reflexology.
Can Pelvic Pain Become Serious?
Some complications may occur during pregnancies that can add to your pelvic pain. At first, you might not be able to distinguish between them but if you experience fever and vaginal bleeding along with pain you should see your doctor immediately.
These symptoms can be an indication of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, preterm labor, uterine rupture etc.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
It is important to keep track of your symptoms and if you see anything out of ordinary, you should contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms include
- Extreme pelvic pain
- Swelling of the face, hands, feet
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Severe headache and dizziness
- Watery, greenish, or bloody discharge
- Less than 10 fetal kicks by the baby in one hour from 28 weeks
- More than four contractions in an hour for two hours
When Does Pelvic Pain Go Away After Birth?
Generally, pelvic pain starts improving from 2 to 6 weeks after birth as the body starts recovering. It depends on the severity of the case as well. If it keeps happening after 6 weeks, see a doctor.
Everyday Tips to Help Ease Pelvic Pain
Following are some of the tips that you can try to ease or avoid your pain. In addition to these tips, be sure to contact your doctor or practitioner and ask for his/her advice on any medication in case you need it.
- Try to avoid body postures that can worsen your pain. For example, do not part your legs if it makes the pain worse, be careful while walking, take small steps and take one stair at a time.
- Get someone to help you around the house if you are in a lot of pain.
- Do some pelvic exercises or relax with your hips elevated.
- Take a warm bath. It will help you relax and also give you a break from gravity’s effect.
- Support yourself while walking, take someone with you for walks to lean on them. Try not to go too far if it will be painful getting back.
- Rest as much as you can while supporting your back.
- Stay as active as possible.
- Do not lift heavy things or a toddler if you have.
- Invest in a belly sling to support the weight of your belly. See if your doctor has any recommendations for you.
- Wear flat shoes.
- Apply heat packs to painful areas.
- Get dressed sitting down.
- You can get a prenatal massage to relax. Be sure to contact a certified professional.
- Sleep with a pillow between your knees.
Get Professional Help:
It’s a good idea to contact your doctor or practitioner for any help during this phase. Exercises help a lot but you need special care in exercising or yoga, so a therapist or instructor would be best for you to get through it.
If you contact the right person, they might be able to help you in more than one way, so do not hesitate to contact professionals and seek help.