A Guide to Understanding and Managing Pregnancy Pelvic Girdle Pain


Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) during pregnancy is a common yet often misunderstood condition. It’s estimated that between 30-50% of women report PGP before 20 weeks, and approx. 60%-70% report PGP by late pregnancy. Of those, about 20% report their symptoms as severe. So, what is pelvic girdle pain? It refers to discomfort and pain in the pelvic area, a concern for many expectant mothers.

Pain can occur in the pubic symphysis (the joint at the pubic bone on the front of your pelvis); one or both of the the sacroiliac joints (at the top of your buttocks at the back) or in all three of these joints. The tailbone may be involved as well.

At Movement Laboratory, we have a lot of experience in addressing PGP which is why we wanted to cover this complex topic. Understanding pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy and its impact is crucial for effective management. 

In this article we’ll help you understand what Pelvic GIrdle Pain is, how it’s diagnosed and how to get relief.

Understanding Pelvic Girdle Pain

The pelvic girdle is a complex structure of bones and joints at the base of your spine. It plays a vital role in supporting your body, especially during pregnancy. When expecting, your pelvic girdle undergoes significant changes to prepare for childbirth. 

This can sometimes lead to discomfort or pain, known as pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain. It’s a condition that affects many women, causing symptoms that can vary in intensity but are often manageable with the right care and understanding.

Causes of Pelvic Girdle Pain in Pregnancy

Hormonal Changes and Their Impact

Pregnancy brings a surge of hormones that are essential for your baby’s growth. However, these hormones also relax your ligaments and joints, particularly in the pelvic area. This relaxation is necessary for childbirth but can sometimes lead to instability and pain in the pelvic girdle.

Physical Changes in the Body

As your baby grows, the added weight and altered centre of gravity can increase the strain on your pelvic girdle. This can exacerbate any existing weaknesses or imbalances in the pelvic area, contributing to pain and discomfort.

Potential Risk Factors

Some women may be more prone to developing pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain. Factors like a history of lower back or pelvic pain, previous pelvic injuries, or even a physically demanding lifestyle can increase the likelihood of experiencing PGP during pregnancy.

It’s important to be aware of these factors and discuss them with healthcare professionals for tailored advice and management strategies.

Common Symptoms of PGP

Pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy can manifest in various ways. Common symptoms include discomfort or sharp pain in the pelvic area, lower back, hips, or groin.

Women may also experience difficulty walking, pain when standing on one leg (like when putting on trousers), and discomfort during movements such as turning over in bed.

How PGP is Diagnosed

Diagnosing PGP involves a thorough assessment by a healthcare professional, often including a physical examination and medical history review. At Movement Laboratory, we focus on understanding each patient’s unique symptoms and the factors contributing to their pain.

The Importance of Early Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of PGP is crucial. It allows for timely intervention, which can significantly reduce discomfort and prevent the condition from worsening. Prompt treatment ensures better management of symptoms, allowing expectant mothers to maintain a higher quality of life during their pregnancy.

How To Relieve Pelvic Girdle Pain

At Movement Laboratory, our treatment plan for PGP is tailored to each individual. We start by assessing the specific factors contributing to a patient’s pain.

Our treatments include movement modifications to avoid overloading the joints, specific exercises to strengthen or stretch the involved muscles, and the use of compression garments or belts for support. We also employ manual therapy modalities such as soft tissue release and dry needling.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes

The Australian Pregnancy care guidelines suggest practical tips such as wearing low-heeled shoes, avoiding prolonged standing, reducing non-essential weight-bearing activities, and applying heat to painful areas.

It’s also advised to avoid standing on one leg and hip abduction, suggesting modifications like sitting down to get dressed and swinging both legs out of the car before standing.

Exercise Routines and Physical Therapy Techniques

While it’s essential to be cautious, avoiding movement altogether isn’t advisable. Exercise benefits both mother and baby. This is why an individualised physiotherapy plan from Movement Laboratory is vital.

Our Women’s Health physios create tailored plans to keep you as active as possible without worsening your pain. Such plans might include safe exercise routines and physical therapy techniques specifically designed for managing PGP.

Booking a consultation with one of our Women’s Health physios can be the first step towards managing PGP effectively and maintaining an active lifestyle during pregnancy.

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Can pelvic girdle pain affect my baby?

No, pelvic girdle pain doesn’t directly affect the baby. While it can be uncomfortable for you, it doesn’t pose a risk to your baby’s health or development.

Are there any simple daily activities I should avoid to prevent worsening my PGP?

Yes, avoiding activities that involve lifting heavy objects, standing for prolonged periods, or any movement that causes pain can help. Listen to your body and modify activities to stay comfortable.

How long does pelvic girdle pain usually last during pregnancy?

The duration of PGP varies among women. For some, it lasts only during the later stages of pregnancy, while others may experience it post-delivery. However, with proper management, symptoms can be significantly reduced.

Is it safe to exercise with pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy?

Yes, it’s generally safe and beneficial to exercise during pregnancy, even with PGP. However, it’s crucial to follow a tailored exercise plan designed by a healthcare professional like those at Movement Laboratory to ensure your activities are safe and effective.

How can I achieve pelvic girdle pain relief at night, especially while sleeping?

For night-time relief, try sleeping with a pillow between your legs. This can help align your pelvis and reduce discomfort. Also, sleeping on a firm mattress and avoiding sleeping on your back can be helpful.

Can pelvic girdle pain reoccur in future pregnancies?

There is a possibility of PGP recurring in subsequent pregnancies, especially if you’ve had it before. However, being proactive with exercises and treatments can help manage and possibly prevent its recurrence.

Is it necessary to see a physiotherapist for pelvic girdle pain relief?

While mild PGP can often be managed with home remedies and lifestyle changes, seeing a physiotherapist is advisable for personalised treatment and management strategies. They can provide specific exercises and therapies tailored to your needs.

Movement Laboratory Google Reviews

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Anastasia is the most wonderful physiotherapist who helped us recover and improve our mobility and strength in record time. Highly recommend!
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I saw the lovely Shannon for my first consult today. She was extremely professional, knowledgeable and patient. The lovely reception staff were also amazing! Thank you team!!
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The team are so wonderful and lovely to be around. They make your recovery feel effortless and no set backs are ever taken negatively. Thanks team!
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I have loved my visits to Movement Laboratory. Alannah has really helped me on my journey to overcome back pain. Highly recommend
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Anastasia is very patient and informative in my daughter’s point assessment. It was great to have someone guide us through this journey. Thank you
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This place was amazing I was so happy about how I was treated and looked after . I liked how everything was explained to me and it made sense . I was grateful when I told my symptoms to the lovely lady she knew what I was talking about and ways we could improve things and that I wasn’t alone. Also I felt that the environment was pleasant calm and relaxing which is what I needed. I have already taken a few work cards to pass out to some ladies I know . Thank you 😊 Looking forward to moving forward
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Anastasia is a miracle worker! I'm a keen runner and I started seeing her a few months ago after a couple of broken backs and a (new) torn hammy. She diagnosed my hammy problem quickly and efficiently, provided immediate relief through some deep massage to allow me to survive a few more important runs before my wedding (honeymoon = rest), and has helped me rebuild through focused strength work and home exercises. She obviously cares about her patients and enjoys helping them achieve their goals. I'm now running regularly and pain free again! Thanks Anastasia 🙂

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