Treating Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy & Motherhood
Pelvic pain or Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) or to give it its posh name, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), is a common condition during pregnancy and sometimes occurs beyond, into motherhood. But what causes it? Here’s come the science …. an adult pelvis is shaped almost like a heart and has three bones attached to each other with ligaments. The front of the pelvis where the pelvic bones meet is joined by the symphysis pubis ligament. When you become pregnant your body produces a hormone called Relaxin that relaxes these ligaments, meaning that they naturally soften and stretch, in preparation for baby’s birth, allowing for pelvic movement. However, sometimes our body can find these soft, stretchy ligaments problematic, in that they’ve become too soft, too loose, too soon. This is when SPD is triggered. The joints in the pelvic area may move unevenly and out of alignment and changes in the way your muscles support your pelvic joints may occur. Extra strain and weight from being pregnant can put pressure on your pelvic area …. just when you need your pelvis to, dare I say it ‘man-up’ and take the strain! SPD may also strike due to an old injury or accident or if you have hyper-mobility in your joints.
The most common symptoms are pain felt in the groin and pubic area. Some women may experience a painful grinding or clicking sensation in this area, or lower back and hip pain. Pains can travel down your thighs and bottom, not unlike sciatica. And is often mistaken for it. Symptoms are often worse at night and can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Pain can be triggered by walking for too long and going up and down stairs too often or carrying too heavy a load …. so basically, everything women do! You may find yourself waddling to avoid the pain. It can occur as early as the 12th week and can continue following childbirth. SPD can have a far-reaching effect on pregnancy and motherhood, as it can be debilitating, making it difficult to work and care for your family, therefore impacting on you emotionally as well as physically.
But there is hope in the form of physiotherapy and complimentary therapies, such as massage. But how can massage help with this? I am an experienced massage therapist with a background in midwifery and I’ve learnt some amazing clinical massage techniques at Jing Advanced Massage Training in Brighton, specifically aimed at helping alleviate the pain and symptoms associated with SPD and general pelvic girdle pain. I’m also a mum to three children so know your pain!
A course of massage treatment during pregnancy, can be a very effective way to reduce the pain associated with SPD and from more general aches and pains in the pelvic area. Massage helps to relax and ease muscle tension and therefore reduce muscle and joint pain. It amazingly helps to encourage and stimulate your body into releasing its own natural killer, endorphins and can also encourage sleep and reduce anxiety and stress.
Along with massage there are other ways to help lessen or at least not aggravate pelvic girdle pain. You can help yourself by listening to your body and not overstretching yourself. Limit carrying heavy objects, get plenty of rest, keep your knees together when turning in bed, position yourself on your car seat before lifting your legs together in to the car and avoid opening your legs too far apart and straggling something …. ahem!
Though often SPD resolves itself after childbirth, for some women it may persist so regular massage once baby is born can help to realign your pelvis and correct your posture.
If you’re suffering with SPD and would like to chat about how I could help you, please get in touch. You don’t have to put up with pain just because you’re pregnant or a tired mum!
Always consult a Doctor or Midwife to ensure a proper diagnosis of SPD who then should refer you for physiotherapy. Massage is a complimentary therapy that works alongside physiotherapy and exercise.
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