Pregnancy is one of the most special times in a woman’s life. For nine months, your body goes through a million changes at once as it prepares to bring a child into the world. As beautiful as it can be, there are also some not-so-lovely things that can happen while you’re pregnant. Aside from the usual suspects, like morning sickness, tender breasts and constipation, many women also experience pelvic pain during pregnancy. While it’s generally nothing to worry about it, it can cause extreme discomfort.
Fortunately, pregnancy pelvic pain isn’t something you just have to deal with. By working with New York’s pelvic pain specialist, you can find relief from pregnancy pain symptoms so that you can focus on what matters most: taking care of your baby. Suffering from pelvic pain during pregnancy? Here, Pelvic Pain Doc tells you everything you need to know.
What Causes Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?
Aches and pains are a completely normal part of pregnancy. And if you think about how hard your body is working, it makes total sense that you’ll experience some sort of discomfort. Your hormone levels are changing, your ligaments are stretching and you’re adjusting to share your body with another little person. All of this puts a lot of strain on the body and can cause symptoms like pelvic pain. Some common causes of pelvic pain during pregnancy are:
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)
Throughout pregnancy, levels of estrogen, progesterone and relaxin rise. All of these hormones (relaxin in particular) work together to relax your ligaments and prepare your body for childbirth. As the pelvic ligaments stretch and soften, your joints become more mobile, especially the joint in the front of your pelvis, the symphysis pubis. Known as symphysis pubis dysfunction or pelvic girdle pain, pain from this condition can begin soon after conception but generally gets worse as your pregnancy progresses.
As your body gets ready to provide a safe place for your baby to grow, your organs need to shift to make space for your expanding uterus. This can cause period-like cramping or pain in your pelvis during pregnancy. Typically occurring in the first eight to 12 weeks of pregnancy, accommodation pain is simply part of the process. Unless you experience any bleeding, this type of pregnancy pain isn’t a cause for concern.
Round Ligament Pain
If you’re experiencing pelvic pain in your second trimester, it could be round ligament pain. This ligament runs from the top of the uterus down to the groin, and can cause pain in your side as it stretches. Round ligament pain generally subsides by the 24th week of pregnancy.
Pressure from Your Baby
Your baby grows exponentially faster throughout your pregnancy. By the third trimester, your ever-growing fetus is pressing down on nerves in your vagina, which can cause pain in your pelvis. These nerves run down into your legs, so you may experience some leg pain as well. Riding in cars, walking or doing other activities that cause your baby to bounce may exacerbate this type of pregnancy pain.
Pelvic pain during pregnancy may also be caused by conditions not related to the pregnancy, such as appendicitis, urinary tract infection, kidney stones or uterine fibroids.
How to Relieve Pregnancy Pelvic Pain
Your body goes through a lot during pregnancy. As you prepare to welcome your new family member, the last thing you want to be dealing with is pain. There are many things you can do to relieve pelvic pain during pregnancy, such as:
- Exercise regularly to prevent pain from starting in the first place
- Get a prenatal massage
- Do pelvic exercises, such as pelvic tilts to relax your hips or Kegels to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
- Take warm baths to relieve tension and stress
- Wear a belly sling to stabilize your pelvis, relieve pressure and give extra support to your bump
- Try acupuncture to alleviate pain during pregnancy
- Get plenty of rest
When to See a Doctor for Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy
In most cases, pelvic pain during pregnancy should be evaluated. That said, some women develop complications during pregnancy that could put the baby at risk. If you have pregnancy pelvic pain that’s accompanied by bleeding or fever, it could be a sign of a more serious issue and you should see a doctor right away. Here are some serious complications during pregnancy that require immediate attention:
If you experience pelvic pain in the first trimester, miscarriage is always a big concern. The unfortunate fact is that an estimated 25% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, and it can be an extremely painful experience, both physically and emotionally. Cramping and bleeding is often the first sign of miscarriage, with pelvic pain that mimics menstrual cramps or feels like rhythmic contractions. If you think you may be experiencing pelvic pain due to miscarriage, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Ectopic pregnancy can also cause extreme pelvic pain. This type of pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus, typically in the fallopian tube. Not only are ectopic pregnancies not viable — they can be fatal if left untreated. They can cause intense pain and bleeding in the first three months of pregnancy as the fallopian tube stretches to accommodate the developing fetus. If you experience extreme pelvic pain during the first trimester, visit a doctor to make sure you don’t have an ectopic pregnancy.
Some women will go into labor before they reach full term, which can be extremely dangerous for the baby. If you experience back pain, pelvic pressure and contractions that continue for two hours, between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy, you may be having preterm labor and you should go directly to a hospital.
As exciting as pregnancy can be, it also brings many new experiences that take time to navigate. The best thing you can do is listen to your body and call your doctor if something doesn’t feel right. If you have more questions about pelvic pain during pregnancy, call Pelvic Pain Doc today. We’re here to support you on your journey to motherhood.