As you know, I run ‘Bump into Fitness’ classes. We serve mums to be and ‘new mums’ through their pregnancy and into postpartum exercise helping them learn about their bodies throughout.
We often here of Pelvic Girdle Pain ( PGP) and with around 1 in 4 pregnant women experiencing it, We have built exercises that help to relieve it within our program. However, we wanted to talk about it and if you’re experiencing it, hopefully help you to find some relief. Much like Pelvic Floor problems, PGP is common but not normal so please talk to your midwife or GP if you are experiencing it. You can ask for a referral to the NHS physio. Especially if you can not complete your normal daily activities or do not get better within a few weeks.
Often referred to as PGP, pain is felt around the pelvic joints, lower back, hips and thighs. It varies from mild to severe. Although each woman can experience different symptoms, I have listed some common ones below.
PGP Symptoms - You may experience pain or discomfort in any or all of the following:
over your pelvis, especially at the pubic bone at the front
along your groin area
below your tummy
in your hips
across one or both sides of your lower back or buttocks (That is bum to you and me😉)
You may have difficulty with certain movements including:
putting weight on one leg at a time (like climbing stairs or when getting out of the bath)
parting your legs, (e.g. getting in and out of a car)
hip movements, such as turning in bed.
lying on your back or side
Daily activities can feel harder, so spreading them out throughout the day and resting when you need to can be a huge benefit.
Posture- Is always important (if you know me well you’ll know that is something I mention a lot 😉
Maintaining equal weight through both feet. Ie- avoid standing on one leg ( hip shifting) and even try to sit when you're getting dressed and undressed. This stops to much pressure on anyone side. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and avoid high heels. The heels will throw your weight forward!
Try to avoid turning quickly or twisting as this can strain your pelvis.
We don’t often think of posture when sitting but, Slouching or sitting very straight can put strain on your back and pelvis. Aim for halfway between these 2 positions.
A really useful tip for some is to place a small support like, a cushion or rolled up towel at your lower back can help you to avoid slouching.
Sit well back into the chair and take its full support. Try to avoid perching on the edge as your muscles will tire more quickly.
I know a lot of us are working from home currently so posture on the computer is even easier to slouch. So. If using a computer, bring your chair under the desk or bring the keyboard closer ( bump variations as you go alone in this journey). This allows your arms to rest by your side as you type. Adjust the monitor so it is at eye level.
Earlier I mentioned pain happening when you opened your legs, to help when you’re getting out of the car, slide your seat back to create more space. Move your feet slowly, one at a time towards the door and then step out one foot at a time. Lean forward to stand up. You can use the handle over your door for support. Or get your partner to be chivalrous and hold their hand out 😉
Stairs are unavoidable- Yet they can be so difficult and painful for many, go one step at a time. When going upstairs, try leading with the less painful leg. Going downstairs, try leading with the more painful leg and use the banister for support.
Sadly, life these days is more strenuous in general and we have heavy objects and small children to lift, pull or push, again this can be very painful
If you’ve done our classes you’ll know why we go through all the movements us mums have to make and reinforce it so often! When lifting, bend your knees and keep your back straight or kneel on to one knee to lift or get to a lower height. Try to avoid stooping over.
Sit down or kneel to comfort small children. Let them climb up to you instead of lifting them. It might be a great time to help your child learn more independent climbing and let them climb into car seats themselves if they can.
Sleep 😊 we know that sleeping is important for everyone, more so if you’re growing a human! However, PGP can be really painful and lying on your back isn’t comfortable, lying on your stomach just wont work!! So, it might be comfortable to lie on your side with a pillow between your knees. Sleeping on your side during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester (weeks 27 to 40) is advised..
As your pregnancy progresses, to place less strain on your hips and lower back, try placing an extra pillow or rolled up towel under your bump.
Moving in bed can be a bit of a nightmare! Its not the easiest and the thought of pain can stop you even trying! To turn, bend your knees up, draw your tummy muscles in and keep your knees together. Turn, moving your shoulder and hip together in one movement.
Getting out of bed: roll onto your side. Drop your legs over the edge of the bed. Use your elbow and hands to push your body into a sitting position. Reverse this method to get into bed 😊
Housework- We would all love to not do it…. At this point it may be worth thinking about! Get your partner involved for heavy housework ie- hoovering it might be easier to do sitting down tasks 😉
We are going to look at some exercises but often there are other things that can help with managing the pain.
Heat is one of them- applying heat to the area that is tender such as the lower back and hip or bum can help you to manage your pain. Hot bath/shower or a heat pack/hot water bottle is helpful. However, it is easy to overheat in pregnancy. Make sure the room is well-ventilated and have a glass of water nearby if you're having a bath.
You should not use heat in the first trimester (0 to 12 weeks of pregnancy)
Pressure point release and massage- If you have followed us for a while you know we speak about how some muscles begin to work harder in pregnancy to compensate for the changes in your posture. These muscles develop tight knots, which can cause pain down your thigh, lower back and to the front.
Pressure point release or massage (there is a treat from your partner there 😉 can be really useful.
You can use a tennis ball or spiky massage ball to ease these tight muscles.
Place the tennis ball against your buttock or lower back area (not over the spine).
Try to find a tender point in the muscle using the ball.
Use your body to push the tennis ball against a wall. Keep the pressure on the sore point - this will cause the knot to relax and release. BREATHE into it.
Keep the pressure on until the pain eases - it can sometimes take 30 seconds or so.
Move the ball to the next painful area. Repeat the steps above - make sure you check both sides of your back and both buttocks for knots. Don’t just check the areas that are painful.
I am always going to say how it is important to stay fit during pregnancy. The benefits of it include helping to prevent gestational diabetes, shortening the second stage of labour and the mental health benefits (especially in lockdown). However, when you have PGP it can be really difficult to do.
Walking- Stay in your comfort zone and listen to your body
Running and high impact exercise- high impact exercise and running is NOT recommended if there is a pelvic girdle pain
Swimming can help you manage your pain and stay fit during your pregnancy. Strokes such as backstroke, front crawl or even gentle walking in the water can all help. Avoiding the breaststroke. This is because the frog kick can aggravate or cause pelvic girdle pain.
Pregnancy yoga-This can help you manage your pain. You may find the relaxation and breathing exercises helpful during your labour.
Pregnancy Pilates-This can help improve your posture and maintain core stability.
Over on our Instagram page you will find some footage of ways to relieve the pain with a gym/birthing ball that can be used for relief and during birth 😊 click here: https://www.instagram.com/bumpintofitness/
During the birth- Moving around in labour can help and practicing different birthing positions throughout the pregnancy may help to ease your mind. Many women with PGP find it uncomfortable to give birth on their backs. They can find standing or kneeling or being on all fours or on their sides more comfortable.
First stage of labour- This is the period from when labour begins until your cervix is fully dilated.
Standing, walking, or sitting keeps you upright. This uses gravity to encourage your baby’s head to engage into the pelvis. It is helpful to have an active labour for as long as you can.
If walking is too painful, you can keep yourself upright in other ways. You could try sitting on a gym or birthing ball. You could also sit on a chair or lean forward while resting on a bed.
You can keep your pelvis moving by walking, rocking on a gym or birthing ball or swaying your hips standing.
If you are experiencing a lot of lower back pain or tailbone pain, try kneeling on all fours. This can take your baby’s weight away from your back. It may also help if you have severe pubic pain and find keeping your legs apart uncomfortable.
Second stage of labour
This is the period from when your cervix is fully dilated until your baby is born.
Kneeling on all fours or in a forward lean position can be comfortable for birth. The back of the bed can be positioned upright to allow you to lean against it. You might also find lying on your side comfortable. Support your least painful leg with pillows, a footrest.
After the birth
After the birth, when the pain is manageable, move around as much as possible.
Ask for help: Your body will surge in hormones and need time to recover and adjust. Ask your partner or support person to stay and help you. Someone may need to lift the baby to you for feeding and nappy changing.
Be aware of your posture when you are feeding your baby. Make sure your back is well-supported. Try a supportive chair and a cushion for baby to lay on to bring them higher.
While you can never say for sure, you may experience PGP again in your next pregnancy.
Between pregnancies, practise any exercises that were prescribed to you if you went to physio. We know deep abdominal strengthening exercises and pelvic floor exercises are particularly important.
We have some great videos of these in our facebook group if you would like a guide you can click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/612442882429010
We have made a video of some stretches that can help to manage and prevent pain over on our Instagram. They should feel comfortable to do, and not painful. For all the stretches, aim to hold them for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 4 to 5 times.
** If you are experiencing discomfort, go more gently with the exercises. Do not stretch as far and do not hold the stretch for as long. Most importantly, speak to a medical professional and get some help :)
It’s been great to be able to do this blog and provide some information to you mums. Thank you so much for reading. We’d love to hear your feedback and of course anything that you would like us to talk about please contact us 😊