07 Mar Dr. Shaila’s Top Chiropractic Tips for Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy
As a perinatal and pediatric chiropractor, supporting women through their pregnancies and helping them to remain comfortable, strong and mobile is the ultimate goal. One of the most common complaints I hear from pregnant women is that they are experiencing pubic symphysis, lower back and pelvic pain. This can be quite difficult to live with, especially as your pregnancy advances. But, after caring for hundreds of pregnant patients with this type of pain, there is one thing I know for sure: This is NOT pain you “just have to live with”.
What is Pelvic Girdle Pain anyway?!
Your pelvic girdle is a ring of bones at the base of your spine comprised of three joints: your pubic symphysis in the front and two sacroiliac joints in the back. Pelvic girdle pain (or PGP for short) can affect any or all of these three joints, as well as other areas such as your hips or thighs. If you’re familiar with the term symphysis pubis dysfunction (or SPD), they’re the same thing and you’ll often hear them used interchangeably.
If you’re experiencing PGP, you are NOT alone and shouldn’t feel like you are! PGP is common and is known to affect 1 in 5 pregnant women, affecting their comfort level, mobility and quality of life. Although PGP can be uncomfortable for you, it will not harm your baby. I can hear all you Mamas-to-be saying: “but after I have my baby, it will go away, right?” Usually, PGP will resolve after your baby’s birth, but in some cases, it can last for 6 months postpartum or more. Sometimes, it can begin after your baby’s birth, even if your pregnancy was otherwise pelvic girdle pain-free. The GOOD NEWS is: PGP can be well managed and we can help relieve this pain and keep you moving with a number of manual therapies along with some minor adjustments (pun intended) to your day-to-day living.
Why am I experiencing this?
Like being pregnant isn’t already enough, am I right??
We already know that low back, pelvic and hip pain is a common occurrence while pregnant. It is most often caused by the MANY changes in the body that occur during pregnancy, all requiring more work from your bones and muscles. With your weight increasing and your center of gravity moving forward, more strain is put on your low back and pelvis. At the same time, your ab muscles get stretched as your belly expands to accommodate your growing baby, making the core muscles less able to give you the support that you need. To top it off, there’s a whole bunch of changes to your blood and hormones that can all contribute to PGP and discomfort in and around your pelvic girdle.
How do I know what I have is PGP?
Your experience with PGP may be very different from your best friends’. I see a lot of cases of PGP in the clinic and no two are quite the same.
Some women have very little pain or discomfort and can get around fairly easily and others may find that their pain is quite severe. Some find it to be manageable during the day but will feel more pain at night. Others may feel or hear a clicking or grinding sound in the pelvic area and in some cases, you might feel a sharp, shooting pain up the front of your pelvis, or a pain that moves from your back down your leg or into your groin, hip or thigh. Women experiencing PGP often find that their ability to move around, walk, or manage stairs is effected. This can make it difficult to do tasks like getting out of the car, turning over in bed, pushing a stroller, or getting dressed and undressed. Remember, your PGP symptoms may be as unique as you are but you are NOT alone in this and I’m here to help.
What can I do to feel better?
Your health care providers will help you with an individualized treatment plan, exercises and lifestyle modifications. In general, the following advice is given to most of the women I care for that are experiencing PGP.
- Keep active and exercise, but get plenty of rest.
- Sleep, sit and stand ‘square’ – try to avoid putting more weight on one leg or one bum cheek which can create unequal forces through the pelvis. Place a pillow between your knees and under your belly when sleeping to keep your pelvis and spine square while you snooze.
- Ditch the high heels – Sorry, not sorry, ladies!!
- Vary your positions frequently – try not to get stuck in one position for more than 30 minutes at a time.
- Take some time to de-stress and relax.
- Sit to dress and undress.
- Try to keep your knees together when getting out of the car – use a plastic grocery bag under your bum in the car. This will allow you to twist freely toward the door while keeping your legs together so that you can then use both legs evenly to stand up.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects, like your toddlers – I have found that asking your older children to help you with things is a great distraction when they ask to be picked up (ie. “Mommy really needs your help carrying that sweater upstairs. Can you help me?”)
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we need it, and that’s ok!
Manual therapies have been shown to be effective to help manage or eliminate PGP both during pregnancy and postpartum. Pelvic health physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic care (including spinal manipulation) are highly safe and effective evidence-based options for pregnant and postnatal women suffering from low back and pelvic girdle pain. Here at Vital, we have you covered with the BEST in perinatal chiropractic care, pelvic health physiotherapy, and registered massage therapy. We are here to help YOU feel better!