Here's what you need to know
One thing is certain: pregnancy ailments can be missed like toothache. And unfortunately, they often occur in large numbers with a capital G. A pregnancy ailment (read: enemy) that will be familiar to many women is pelvic pain. No less than half of all pregnant women suffer from this at some time. Some of these women even suffer so much that they can no longer carry on with their daily routine as before. Some women continue to be bothered by this ailment even after their pregnancy. But how does pelvic pain arise, what are the symptoms of pelvic pain and what can you do to reduce the pain symptoms?
How does pelvic pain arise?
Pelvic pain is caused by pelvic instability during pregnancy. This means that the joint, consisting of joints and ligaments, between the two pubic bones becomes a lot softer and stretchier during pregnancy due to pregnancy hormones. In addition, your growing uterus and the change in your posture can play a role in this. In some cases, these joints and ligaments become so weak and stretchy that the different bone parts in the pelvis move. When the surrounding muscles are unable to keep everything in place, you may suffer from pelvic instability and therefore pelvic pain.
As unpleasant as pelvic pain and pelvic instability can be, the suppleness of these joints and ligaments actually has an important function: it facilitates the process of childbirth, as the baby comes out through your pelvis. A pelvis that does not give way will make childbirth more difficult.
When can you get pelvic pain?
Usually, first-time pregnant women experience pelvic instability and pelvic pain from the second trimester onward. Have you been pregnant before? Then there is a good chance that you will experience pelvic instability and pelvic pain before the second trimester. The reason for this is that the joints and ligaments weaken earlier because you have been pregnant before. Unfortunately, it is also true that the symptoms of pelvic instability can get worse as the pregnancy progresses.
Some women continue to suffer from pelvic instability after pregnancy or even begin to experience it only then. This can happen when the ligaments are stretched too much during childbirth.
What are the symptoms of pelvic instability?
Pelvic instability can unfortunately cause a lot of pains and other complaints. Every woman suffers from pelvic instability differently, but the most common symptoms are:
- Pain in the pelvis or around the pubic bone. This pain may transfer to the inside of the thighs, groin, or vulva.
- Pain in the lower back. This pain may pass to the buttocks, groin, back of the thighs, and lower legs.
- Pain around the tailbone. You may also suffer from the lowest point in the middle of your back due to pelvic instability. The pain may worsen when you are tired or make certain movements, such as bending or running.
- Starting pain. Pelvic instability can cause you to experience pain when "starting" a movement, such as standing up after sitting.
- Fatigue. Another unpleasant consequence of pelvic instability is fatigue. This will not be the same for every pregnant woman; the degree to which you suffer from pelvic instability will be an important factor. However, it is generally the case that standing or sitting in the same position for long periods and walking will contribute to fatigue. In addition, brisk walking and cycling will usually result in fewer symptoms.
- Slow recovery from fatigue and pain. Everyone needs to recover from fatigue and pain, but this process is a lot slower in pregnant women with pelvic instability. Just a short activity can cause these women to suffer more fatigue and pain the next day.
Ways to reduce pain associated with pelvic instability
Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you, because there is nothing you can do to directly reduce pelvic instability. However, there are ways to relieve the pain caused by pelvic instability:
- Keep moving. When you suffer from pelvic instability, it is important to stay active to exercise the muscles around your pelvis. When these muscles are strong, they can cushion your pelvis better and you will have less trouble with shifting bone parts in your pelvis. For example, try pregnancy gym. It's a lot of fun too, because you get to keep moving together with other mommies-to-be!
- Take your rest. It may sound a bit contradictory, but besides exercise, taking regular rest is also important. So, find a good balance between active exercise and optimal rest.
- Change positions. It is important not to stand or sit in the same position for too long. Therefore, regularly adopt a new position.
- Good posture. Make sure your head, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are straight. Also, make sure regularly that you keep your shoulders low and don't raise them unnecessarily.
- Climbing stairs. Try to avoid climbing stairs as much as possible and take the elevator if possible. Are the stairs the only option? Then make good use of the banister for support and make sure you walk up the stairs with a straight back.
- Bending and lifting. Avoid bending over and leave the lifting to someone else (fortunately, pregnant women are only too happy to help). Is there no one else around and you will have to bend down or lift anyway? Then remember to bend your knees first and then lift with a straight back. Do not lift from your back, but from your arms and legs.
- Sitting posture. You may tend to sit with your legs crossed, but this is best avoided during pregnancy, as is sitting in a cross-legged position. It's a better (not necessarily more charming) idea to sit with your legs slightly apart instead. Also, turn your thighs out slightly and make sure your hip and buttock muscles are completely relaxed.
- Chair. In addition to a good sitting position, a good chair also matters a lot when you suffer from pelvic instability. Avoid low and deep chairs, but instead, sit on a high chair.
- Getting up (out of bed). When getting up from bed, it is important to first bring your legs over the edge of the bed. Then use your arms to push yourself up until you are sitting straight on the edge of the bed.
- Standing. Make sure your weight is well distributed on both legs while standing, including while getting dressed. It is also important that your feet are turned slightly outward. Do you have to stand up for a long time? Then try wobbling up and down a bit, from your left leg to your right leg.
- Hiking. Long walks are best avoided (no matter how soothing) if you are bothered by pelvic instability. Either way, take small steps to minimize strain on your pelvis. It's also a good tip to wear sturdy shoes that offer plenty of stability.
- Lying down. The best position to lie in (and therefore sleep in) is on your side. In addition, your pelvis can relax more if you put a pillow between your legs.
- Ask for help. It's okay to ask for help and to temporarily outsource certain household chores if it means you can rest a little more and put less strain on your pelvis as a result.
- Massage. Getting a massage for the lower back and even the buttocks can help alleviate pain. Probably wonderfully relaxing and soothing as well.
- Pelvic Physical Therapy. Are you suffering tremendously from pelvic instability? Then listen carefully to your body and don't keep walking around with the symptoms. Pelvic physiotherapy can help to reduce these symptoms.