PGP in Pregnancy
If you’re suffering with pelvic pain, also known as pelvic girdle pain or PGP in pregnancy, know that you are not alone. PGP is something that affects 1 in 5 of pregnancies and is something that as healthcare professionals we can attest to seeing an awful lot of.
What Does PGP Pain Feel Like?
PGP in pregnancy varies from person to person. Some people may experience a shooting pain over their pubic bone, also known as pubic symphysis dysfunction (SPD) and others may find pain moving into their lower back, causing Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain, or sometimes into the hip or thigh. This is often worse when walking, especially when going upstairs or getting up from a seat or your bed, and tends to worsen through your pregnancy as the weight of your baby puts more pressure on the pelvis.
If there is one good thing you can take away from this about PGP in pregnancy is that PGP pain will not harm your baby. Although it is really unpleasant to experience, the important thing to remember though is that early detection and treatment can improve your symptoms.
As well as seeking help from your antenatal healthcare professionals, there are some simple measures you can take at home to ease the effects of PGP during pregnancy. We’ve outlined a few of these below for you. We have also put together a whole video on pelvic girdle pain and ways to help – this PGP in pregnancy video is available within our yoga module as part of our full online antenatal course.
Why We Experience PGP During Pregnancy
PGP in pregnancy can be an incredibly debilitating condition that plagues so many mums to be. PGP pain can contribute to considerable discomfort over the course of your pregnancy and can even make it extremely difficult for you to move around and carry out your everyday activities.
But why does PGP pain happen? Firstly, we should explain what the girdle is.
The pelvic girdle is essentially a big bowl, with a few holes. It’s made up of three bones: the two ilium and the sacrum, connected by connective tissue. Outside of pregnancy, this is a pretty stable solid structure, designed to support your whole body.
In pregnancy, we produce the hormones Progesterone and Relaxin, which affect the connective tissue in our body, making joints more supple. The hormones act on the joint at the front of your pelvis (around your pubic bone) and the two at the back connecting either side of the sacrum, which is necessary for your growing baby and to help with birth. Unfortunately, the softening effect creates micro-movements within joints that are not otherwise designed to move. This leads to joint instability and can cause significant, sometimes debilitating PGP pain.
Pregnancy Girdle Pain Treatment Options
Unfortunately, the physiological journey of pregnancy will mean that your symptoms won’t miraculously disappear. Many women will find that the condition worsens with each trimester, so it’s important to act swiftly if you begin to experience PGP in pregnancy. The two key points with pregnancy girdle pain are:
- Early diagnosis and treatment of PGP pain
- Prevention over cure of PGP in pregnancy
Speak to your midwife or doctor about your symptoms, even if they are minor, as soon as you start experiencing them. They can refer you for physiotherapy, which is the number one treatment for PGP in pregnancy. Early treatment can help prevent things from getting worse.
How to Manage PGP During Pregnancy
If you are waiting for a doctor’s appointment or physiotherapy referral, there are steps you can take to help with PGP pain. Dealing with pelivc girdle pain at home doesn’t have to be difficult. You can help lessen the effects of PGP in pregnancy simply by making sure that your pelvis is properly aligned when standing. It might be difficult to continually remember something like posture to begin with, but you’ll soon get into the habit. And remember:
Legs wide and unbalananced = bad
Legs close together and parallel with each other = good.
Repeated, seemingly minor movements can worsen PGP pain, so bring a level of awareness to daily activities:
- Sit down when putting on trousers and shoes. Flat shoes are the best choice when experiencing PGP pain
- When getting out of bed, roll to the side. Keep your legs bent and together before pushing up to a seated position
- Slide your legs together out of the car, rather than swinging them individually, to prevent sharp pelvic girdle pain symptoms.
- Stay active, but avoiding prolonged periods of activity (30 minutes or longer). Going for a short swim is great because it doesn’t put pressure on your pelvis.
- Try to minimise going upstairs as much as possible. If you need to, try going up one at a time, or even sitting on the stairs and going up backwards on your bum
- Keep weight evenly distributed between your legs, to avoid creating malalignment in the pelvis. Try to avoid holding young children on your hip
- Try a pelvic girdle band for extra support. Bbhugmehave a great one
- To help with symptoms, simple pain relief such as paracetamol is safe in pregnancy – you can speak with your doctor about other options, such as a TENS machine
More Help With Pregnancy Girdle Pain
We understand that PGP in pregnancy can be extremely debilitating however, PGP pain does not have to ruin the experience of pregnancy for you. Understanding the causes of girdle pain and what options are available for you will help you to manage and alleviate the symptoms. We’ve put all the information you need together so it’s one less thing to worry about and you can get back to enjoying this special time before your baby arrives.
Our online Antenatal Course has a wealth of information on managing PGP in pregnancy and back pain with pregnancy yoga as well as diverse topics based on the most up-to-date evidence and UK guidelines. We’ll also teach you what to expect when approaching birth; how to get labour started; how to use hypnobirthing for a positive birth experience; the basics of breastfeeding and much more. This alternative to in-person classes means you have all the information you could possibly need about pregnancy and new parenthood right at your fingertips whenever you need it. Find out more about our online Antenatal Course today.