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Let's Talk About Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy

written by Dimyana Farag - Women's Health Physio

Why Does Pelvic Pain Happen During Pregnancy?


You might have heard a pregnant friend or family member complain of it or you might have even experienced it yourself.


It seems almost every woman at some stage in her life will have encountered it, mostly during or after pregnancy.


So, have you ever wondered what pelvic pain is, and why it happens?

Some people call it SCIATICA which is often used to describe a constant radiating pain from the base of the spine or buttocks down the rear side of one leg.


It is often experienced by pregnant women, although many people MALE & FEMALE may experience it relating to an injury or associated with low back pain.


Today we'll define the difference between SCIATICA and PELVIC PAIN where the pain origins are - specific to pregnancy and after birth - and what you can do to manage your pelvic pain.


The name comes from the sciatic nerve, which runs from the base of the spine, through the gluteal (bottom) muscles, and runs back down the back of the leg to the knee.


However, many other structures in the lower back, pelvis, and hips can also refer to pain down the back of the leg, which is often labeled as "SOMATIC REFERRED PAIN" so, pelvic pain may not be coming from the nerve at all.



During pregnancy, there are many hormones that change - either increase or decrease in concentration in the body. Some of these hormones, including OESTROGEN are responsible for softening the joints and connective tissues, which can lead to increased mobility.


The body does this to prepare the joints of the pelvis to open and stretch beyond their usual limits to allow passage of the baby through the birth canal. The increased mobility in these pelvic joints - some that usually don't move at all outside pregnancy and birth - requires added support from the surrounding muscles to stabilize them.


Imagine your body having to do more work to stabilize your joints while growing a human at the same time!


The added stress on the joints of the lower back, hip, and pelvis often causes hip, back, and leg pain particularly in weight-bearing positions, and with movements such as walking up/down stairs or on uneven surfaces.


Many women will experience instant relief of their pelvic pain after the baby is born because there is no longer the same load on the body.


However, it takes a few months for the hormones to return to their pre-pregnancy levels, and so while it may seem that everything is "BACK TO NORMAL" some women may still experience ongoing pain as the joints slowly return to their usual fixed positions.



You might be thinking, "ISN'T IT JUST A NORMAL PART OF BEING PREGNANT?"

I would agree that it is very common, however nobody wants to live in pain and the good news is that there is something you can do about it!


Pelvic pain can often limit a woman's ability to walk, move, exercise, or work. Many studies have shown that guided movement during pregnancy and after birth is important for a woman’s physical and mental health.


When pain limits this, it can often have a negative effect on her overall well-being or the ability to support her family in the way she needs to.


REMEMBER:


Everyone’s pain is different and may be coming from a different cause, so it’s important to seek help from your Women's Health Physio or Health Professional to manage yours.



  1. Consider what aggravates or eases your pelvic pain, and how badly it limits you. For example, if it really flares up after using the stairs, you may consider taking the lift instead.

  2. Consider what your daily activities are like. Are you on your feet or sitting for most of the day? Are you engaging in any sort of exercise? What impact are these movements having on your pain?

  3. Try to balance your movement so that you avoid aggravating the pain. Pushing through the pain is not always the best way to deal with it!

  4. Get assessed!

Seeing your Women's Health Physiotherapist or Health Care Practitioner is the best way to get individualized help with your specific pelvic pain.


Although we know that pelvic pain in pregnancy is common and has a lot to do with our bodies preparing for birth, it is NOT something you must endure without help and CAN be managed before your baby is born!


Women and mothers already have a lot to deal with... Pain should NOT be one of them!


It's also important to remember that if something worked for your FRIEND or FAMILY MEMBER it may not necessarily work for you


If pelvic pain is something you would like more information on, book a consultation to receive personalized assistance.


Written by,

This information is an educational tool and is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of the pelvic floor.




Questions: Comments below


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