Pelvic Joint (Girdle) Pain in Pregnancy

What does this mean?

Pelvic Joint Pain refers to pain felt around the pelvis; either at the back in the buttocks on one or both sides and /or pain over the pubic bone or all three areas.

There are three joints in the pelvis, and each has only a small amount of movement. Pain and problems can occur when any of the three are damaged, for example, by trauma, i.e. a car accident or a fall. Pain can also occur during pregnancy when normal function is affected by pregnancy hormones.

Pain might be felt directly over the joints at the back, in the buttock, and can radiate out to the hip or the ‘sit bones’. Pain may be felt down the back of the leg. It can feel similar to sciatica but is caused by the pelvic joints. The pain may also be felt in the pelvic floor or the vagina. At the front of the pelvis, the pubic bone may become painful to touch, and there may be groin pain on one or both sides. If inflamed, a burning, aching sensation can be felt. Pain such as this needs professional expertise for ongoing management.

What causes PGP?

Pregnancy hormones soften the strong ligaments that hold the bones of the pelvis together, to allow a little more space for your baby to pass through the pelvis during birth. These hormones start to take effect about 10 days after your baby has been conceived,and are quite a normal part of pregnancy.
By about 18-20 weeks, due to the weight and size of the growing baby, the tummy muscles are becoming stretched and weakened. There is more weight on the pelvic floor. This process can leave your pelvis less supported.
Many women may start to feel a little laxity, and around 1 in 5 women might develop some symptoms in the pelvic joints.
These symptoms may be occasional twinges and easily self-managed, or progress to distressing pain and an inability to walk comfortably or change position in bed. The pain can come on suddenly following an incident or develop slowly.

Sometimes the need to ‘not let pregnancy change my life’ drives us to overdo activities, such as social outings, work activities and exercise. Be aware if this attitude may be triggering your pain and modify your activity accordingly.

Will this affect my Baby?

No, even though you might have quite considerable pain/discomfort, it will not affect your baby.

What can I do if I have a problem?
Early diagnosis and treatment can mean better a better outcome
It is important to have a proper assessment by an appropriate health professional who has expertise in this area, to get a correct diagnosis.

Gentle exercises, specific treatment or advice regarding lifestyle choices, and sometimes a belt, such as the MITTON Pelvic Support Belt, can be helpful in women with mild or moderate pain and dysfunction. If your pain is severe, then your health professional can help you navigate through the difficulties.

Your health professional can assist with guidelines to help make your pregnancy as comfortable and safe as possible.

Recovery after childbirth.

Most women will find that their pain goes once the baby has been delivered, however there are a small number who will experience ongoing problems for some time…
The pelvic joints are still vulnerable for up to 6-8 weeks after delivery and care needs to be taken to protect them as you become more active and deal with the demands of motherhood.
You may find that wearing your belt gives you more support at this time.