Pregnant and in pain? Many of my pregnant patients struggle with SI (sacroiliac) joint pain, low back pain or hip pain. Up to 80% of pregnant women suffer from some sort of low back or pelvic pain. But relief is possible with some of these tips below!
But first, let’s review some reasons pain comes with pregnancy:
A hormone called relaxin works to soften the ligaments while pregnant to get our bodies ready for a growing baby and for delivery. When the ligaments relax the pelvic joints often shift and cause pain.
As baby grows in your uterus, ligaments that attach the uterus and the sacrum get stretched and strained and can lead to pain.
Posture shifts to accommodate a growing belly. As our center of gravity shifts forward, we will compensate by shifting our shoulders back, increasing the curvature in our low back, and in turn, causing pain.
Our pelvis widens, changing the way our muscles work and move us. This especially goes for our glutes- the muscles we use to walk, stand, or balance on one leg. The glutes have to work harder to help stabilize our pelvises during pregnancy.
These are just a few of the reasons women struggle with pain during pregnancy. And pain makes it challenging to stay active and to exercise consistently.
So let’s fix this! It’s important to stay active throughout your pregnancy, both for your health and for baby’s. Here are some tips and tricks that you can try to help reduce pain, especially when being active.
- Wear a belly band, like the one from belly bandit. This can give you some additional support while standing or walking. It helps keep you connected to your core muscles. You can find a link to 2 good options in my Postpartum Toolkit.
- If experiencing SI joint pain, pain located just above your buttock by the little dimples, or pubic pain, try an SI belt. I love this one from Com-pressor. Make sure to wear it low on your pelvis, across our buttocks, rather than above the butt. This will help stabilize the pelvic joints, thus, reducing your pain.
- Choose low impact activities like swimming or walking
- Focus on strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. BUT if you have pelvic or low back pain avoid single leg balance exercises. Focus on:
Squats with emphasis on squeezing the butt as you return to standing
Bridging with focus on tightening the buttocks at the top of the bridge
Clamshells or sidelying leg lifts: While lying down it is appropriate to do single leg exercises, but in standing, the pelvis is too unstable in single leg stance
All 4’s leg extensions: if feeling pain, keep your toe in contact with the ground as you stretch the leg behind you
There is no reason for you to deal with pain during pregnancy, or for that matter, ever!!! If you try these tips and exercises, but are still struggling with pain, seek out a physical therapist in your area that has experience working with pregnant women.
You are strong and amazing! You got this!
Jenn Lane, Physical Therapist