Most mums-to-be experience mild aches and pains at some stage during pregnancy, but for some women pelvic pain can become more serious.
Physiotherapist Sarah Fishburn, co-founder of The Pelvic Partnership charity explains, ‘The term Pelvic Girdle pain (PGP) describes pain in and around the pelvic joints during pregnancy – and sometimes after birth.
‘For some women it can be mild, but for others it’s chronic and debilitating.’
The condition used to be called Symphis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).
It is caused by one or more of the pelvic bones becoming misaligned or unstable and not working as they should. The weight and movement of your baby, plus changes in your centre of gravity during pregnancy, can also add to the pain.
Symptoms might include pain in your pubic area, hips thighs, lower back or bottom.
You may struggle during pregnancy to get out of bed or your car, and find it hard to stand on one leg, for example when you are climbing stairs.
Seek professional help as soon as possible. A physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor may be able to help. Avoid activities that put strain on your pelvis – identify what hurts most and do them as little as possible. Ask for help while you are pregnant if you need it.
Most women with pelvic pain have a normal vaginal birth. Think about labour positions you are happy with and make sure your birth team understands your limitations. Write a detailed birth plan and make sure your birth partner will speak up for you once you are in labour.
Try to avoid lying on your back when giving birth. Instead, aim to remain as upright as possible. On all fours, leaning forward may be a good labour position for you. Many women with PGP find a birthing pool very soothing.
A full recovery from pelvic problems is possible – the speed and extent of your recovery depends on what kind of birth you had.
Don’t try to do too much too soon. Even if you think the pain has eased, take things slowly and consult your healthcare professional as soon as possible after the delivery.