Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is common. Around 1 in 5 pregnant women suffer from PGP.
This may be pain at the front (symphysis pubis pain often referred to as SPD) or at the back (sacroiliac pain or SI).
For some women this lasts a short time and soon goes, for others it can be more painful and effects their movement.
The good news is, for the majority of cases it will soon settle after your baby is born.
Usually there are a number of causes which can include:
The most common symptoms of pelvic girdle pain are:
During pregnancy you may find it helpful to:
Pelvic floor exercises:
Try and do your pelvic floor exercises regularly. Aim for 10 second holds, 10 repetitions and then 10 quick squeezes, 4-6 x a day.
Start by tightening the back passage, then pull upwards as though you are stopping the flow of urine. Keep your breathing relaxed and try not to let your legs or bottom muscles join in.
Deep abdominal exercises:
Gently draw your lower abdomen towards your spine, imagine gently drawing the two pelvic bones at the front of your body towards each other. Keep your breathing relaxed.
Aim for 10 second holds, 10 repetitions.
Do your exercises in different positions e.g. sitting, standing and kneeling on all fours.
Most women with PGP can have a normal vaginal birth. Many women worry that the pain will be worse if they go through labour. This is not usually the case when good care is taken to protect the pelvic joints from further strain or trauma. Make sure you tell your midwife that you suffer from PGP.
It is a good to have an awareness of how far you are able to part your legs (abduct) before you come in to have your baby. It is important to keep within this range as much as possible, especially if you have an epidural and cannot feel any pain due to PGP (which would otherwise warn you not to part your legs too wide).
Sometimes, for the safety of baby and for reasons not to do with your PGP, an assisted birth (using forceps or a ventouse cup) is best. In these cases you will need to have your legs wide apart for the birth, but everyone helping in your birth will do their best to try not to move your legs too far apart.
Think about birthing positions that are likely to be comfortable for you. Record these in your birth preferences. Consider discussing the option of using the birth pool for labour – this allows you to move freely and change position easily. As long as you are able to get in and out of the pool on your own without additional support aids, this is a safe option for you.
Use gravity to help the baby to move downwards by staying as upright as possible:
These positions can allow labour to progress and avoid further strain on your pelvis:
Try to avoid lying on your back or sitting propped up on the bed – these positions reduce the pelvic opening and may slow labour.
You should never place your feet on the midwife’s or your partner’s hips, when pushing to deliver your baby, as it may put too much strain on your pelvic joints and may also damage your helper’s back.
You may be able to lie on your side for internal examinations – ask your midwife or doctor to consider this.
For further ideas for managing day-to-day and for further support, see the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) – Pelvic girdle pain and pregnancy
Stoke Mandeville Hospital switchboard: 01296 315000 Wycombe Hospital switchboard: 01494 526161
Please Note: This leaflet explains some of the most common symptoms that some people may experience. However, it is not comprehensive. If you experience other symptoms and want to ask anything else please speak to your Community Midwife.
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