The low down on Pelvic Girdle Pain

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is the new term for lower back or pelvic pain experienced during pregnancy. Research suggests that around 46% of all pregnant women will experience PGP during their pregnancy and that most cases will resolve within the first two months’ post-partum.

The pain experienced can be varied in severity and location for each woman. Some woman my experience some mild discomfort, while others can unfortunately be quite debilitated by their pain.

Pregnant woman standing side on holding her hand on her pelvis. Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is the new term for lower back or pelvic pain experienced during pregnancy.

What causes PGP?

It is not entirely understood what causes Pelvic Girdle Pain and why it effects some and not others. The most likely cause is a combination of both biomechanical and hormonal factors. As the woman’s weight distribution changes her centre of gravity will move forward, changing the forces through the lower back, pelvis and hips.

The Sacro-Illiac Joints (SIJ) are the large joints at the back of the pelvis are what will stabilise a change in the biomechanics in a non-pregnant person. However, in pregnancy hormones are produced to increase the movement and relax these large joints to allow the birthing process. This is super important to allow baby to come into the world, but it can lead to an increase in instability of the SIJ and pelvis.

What are the risk factors for Pelvic Girdle Pain?

This is not a definitive list, however evidence suggests that women with the following history are at a higher risk of developing PGP:

  • Women who do strenuous work
  • History of lower back pain
  • Previous history of PGP
  • Past trauma to the pelvis
  • How to manage PGP?
  • Avoid jarring, bouncing, hip abduction and uneven weight baring on the legs
  • Avoid lifting and twisting, maintain a good posture and take lots of breaks
  • Physical therapy including massage and chiropractic
  • SIJ belt for movement
  • Swimming, yoga or Pilates
  • Tens Machine
  • Acupuncture

How best to labour when you have Pelvic Girdle Pain?

The most comfortable position is on all fours or on the side. It is recommended that you avoid being on your back, if possible, and extended periods of leg abduction. Following birth, it is recommended to get up and move as soon as possible within your pain limitations.

Vermani, E., Mittal, R. and Weeks, A. (2010). Pelvic Girdle Pain and Low Back Pain in Pregnancy: A Review. Pain Practice, 10(1), pp.60-71.


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