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How to stop Pregnancy back, groin, hip and pelvic girdle pain

Gillian McCabe (the other Welsh Clinical Specialist Physio MSc) and I got together to give you our top tips for resolving pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy.

Firstly, Congratulations! Isn’t your body amazing? You’re making a whole new human! (or maybe several…)

Pregnancy should be a wonderful time but for around 30% of women it isn’t. Are you struggling to turn over in bed? Are you ok for a little bit when you’re up and moving but in agony by the end of the day? Does everything hurt (groin, hip, back, pubic bone…inside) even when you sit still too long?
There’s a lot of confusing information out there about aches and pains which all come with their own medical names (LBP, PGP, SPD…). Then there’s those ‘helpful’ members of your family and friends, the pregnancy-professional-advisors telling you that a bit of sciatica/back pain is normal, they had it with their second and it was fine after they’d had little Jacob…though they’ve had a bit of a dodgy back ever since…

Here’s the truth: Pregnancy isn’t meant to hurt.

For the real low-down download this excellent booklet provided by the UK Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy group here.
Your pregnant body goes through a lot of changes and it should adapt, stretch and accommodate the new life it carries easily. Your body’s really clever and will adapt to use what it can so you can move when you want to, but this often means at the expensive of your pelvic joints when you’re poorly aligned and a little more stretchy with pregnancy.

If you’re in pain Physio can help your body to achieve what it needs to. It’s always worth mentioning any symptoms to your midwife or GP just to check everything’s ok, but usually they’ll then refer you to a Physio to help get you better aligned and help strengthen your bump and back.

Here’s our top tips to start getting better:

1) Listen to your body, moderate your activity. Being active is important but resting is too. Your body knows when you’ve over-done it, too much movement with a pelvis that isn’t yet happily aligned/strong enough can be painful. Use resting postures (in the booklet above) and choose your battles – go on the trips out that you really want to do but make sure you have a period of time either side to rest. The same goes for housework – get your family and friends to help out.

2) Pregnancy belts can be helpful but aren’t the answer, they’re a stop-gap while you get stronger. There’s lots of different ones so it’s worth having an assessment to make sure you get the right one for you.

3) Symmetry is key! Put the same weight through both sides of your pelvis as much as you can, try not to stand on one leg. Be ladylike – knees parallel when you’re sitting (no crossed legs). Stand up then turn to move, don’t do it all in one. Try and have parallel legs in bed – a pillow between your knees all the way to your feet is helpful with another small pillow under your side. Sit down sideways into the car then twist round to get in with your legs together. You get the idea. Ladylike.

4) Exercise can be really helpful. Our body is made to move, especially during pregnancy. Doing exercise regularly whilst pregnant also helps to develop your baby’s heart, lungs and brain. High impact exercise like running isn’t a great idea if you’re in pain, but Pilates, Yoga or Swimming can all be really beneficial. Here’s the link to the Pilates booklet: http://pogp.csp.org.uk/publications/pilates-womens-health-physiotherapy Remember when reading this booklet that lying flat on your back when more than about 12 to 16 weeks pregnant isn’t advisable, neither is lying on your front when your bump’s a bit bigger…

We hope you’re feeling better soon! It’s always worth having a chat with a health professional about your symptoms. Seeing a specialist pelvic health (women’s health) physio sooner rather than later can get you back to enjoying your pregnancy.

Want more info? Have a look at my magic exercises for PGP video – start your rehab today!