Its bedtime in our house for my toddler and I sit down on the floor next to her bed to read her a story. "Good night my sweet" and I get up to leave. Although, I cant get up. A searing pain rages through my hip and lower back, no seriously I cannot move my body to get up. Holding back the tears so she cant see my agony just before she goes to bed I managed to roll over somehow and get on to my hands and knees. I am 16 weeks pregnant.
This was my first experience of PGP. I had learnt about it when training but until it happens to you, things like this are often hard to understand. If you are reading this and are experiencing this kid of discomfort while pregnant - you are not alone!
So what is PGP? Sometimes referred to as SPD - Pelvic Girdle Pain describes pain in the joints, the ligaments and the muscles that make up the pelvic girdle. The joints include the symphysis pubis joint at the front, the sacroiliac joints at the back, and hip joints at either side of the pelvis. The symptoms can vary from mild discomfort in localised points to sever disability needing assistance walking. In whatever form, this is not normal pregnancy pains and can make life extremely difficult.
'Pelvic girdle pain is not a “normal” part of pregnancy if the body is aligned, and most importantly the pelvis has the ability to adapt comfortably to the extra stresses and postural strains of pregnancy. However more than half of all pregnant woman report some kind of musculoskeletal pain.' (1)
What causes it? The hormone Relaxin is produced while you are pregnant which increases flexibility of the joints and ligaments within the pelvic girdle - which is great as it means more space for baby to pass through your pelvis as they are born! However, if you have some degree of misalignment (of which you may not know) and increase of mobility in this area, plus the extra weight you carry with baby, can lead on to instability and increasing the misalignment which causes the pain.
But I am fit and active so why is my body letting me down?! Yep this is how I felt, and I have certainly heard others say similar. We know that a certain group of people are MORE susceptible to experiencing pregnancy related PGP which includes; Dancers, Gymnasts, Horse Riders, ladies who have Hyper-mobility or related conditions - why? because they are more likely to have experienced previous over-extension of the joints. If you have experienced a previous trauma to this area - perhaps a car accident or a hard fall at some point, this may be you too.
'As a general rule of thumb, the majority of the maternal body’s mechanical adjustments tend to diminish after the 28th week of pregnancy, so if you have not experienced any PGP/SPD up to this stage the chance of getting the condition reduces considerably.' (2)
It must also be said that PGP can occur if you are not in this group and may be related to a stress or
strain on this area, the way you move in certain situations, lifting heavy things incorrectly (toddlers!) and some simple things could improve your symptoms or decrease the likely-hood of you getting any...
1. Think about your posture when standing. Avoid tipping your pelvis too far forward and letting the weight of baby hang, but equally don't be tempted to continually 'tuck your tailbone' - dancers i'm talking to you! Place your hands on your hips and rock your pelvis gently forward and back to increase gentle mobility and find that center point.
2. Change your posture when resting or sitting. I know i'm sorry! I get it - your hot, your tired, your heavy and you just wanna lounge on the sofa! But you can see in this picture (ABOVE) how you are putting strain through the lower back/ sacrum. This also doesn't help baby stay in the best position and can increase the chances of them being 'posterior'.
My TIP - Get a Birthing Ball. They are great for so many things, but if you suffer from PGP they can be a great way to sit comfortably in a correct posture.
3. Lifting and Carrying.
Having a toddler who wants to be carried can be difficult. These two photos from Dr Helaine Shpritz (3) show beautifully how to do it while putting equal pressure through the pelvis. This is particularly important in early pregnancy when the Relaxin production is at its highest - later on in your pregnancy you may need to lift them on top of your bump!!
4. Moving out of bed & getting in and out of the car.
The change that made the biggest impact on my symptoms was becoming mindful about how I was getting in and out of the car. Our driveway is narrow and so I had started to opt to park on the road, toddler door to the pavement, which meant I was getting out onto the road. Especially after work the road was busy and I would dash out quickly with a break in the traffic. This quick, uneven movement, putting strain through the pelvic ligaments was meaning my condition kept recurring.
Here's Kim showing you how not to do it (she reported suffered with PGP)
Instead think 'Don't show your knickers!' - Knees together, swivel your feet out and put both feet flat on the floor before lifting out.
My TIP - sit on a plastic bag, it means you can slide round on your chair easier! And here we were thinking this was just in-case our waters went!