Pelvic pain during pregnancy is normal and can be associated with certain changes that happen to the mother’s body during pregnancy, such as increased weight and hormonal changes.
Also, during pregnancy, the pelvic joints can get rigid or unstable to prepare the mother’s body for labor, and this may cause discomfort, pain, or even affect mobility. However, the mother does not need to worry as this does not affect the baby.
Pelvic pain does not generally indicate a problem with pregnancy and usually disappears right after the baby is born. However, If the pelvic pain comes associated with other symptoms such as fever, vaginal discharge, or a burning feeling when urinating, it is recommended to seek medical help immediately. It is also important that you visit a gynecologist/obstetrician frequently and do prenatal tests to guarantee a worry-free pregnancy.
1. Increase in baby weight
One of the main causes of pelvic pain in pregnancy is the increase in baby weight, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. This happens because, in this stage, the pelvic ligaments and muscles become more relaxed and stretch to make room for the baby to grow, and this may cause pelvic pain.
What to do: to reduce discomfort try to avoid lifting and carrying weight. You can also do activities such as hydrogymnastics, walking, and Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis.
2. Body changes
Changes in the mother’s body are completely normal during pregnancy. One of the main body changes is the curvature of the spine to accommodate for the baby’s growth and prepare for labor. This can cause relaxation of pelvic muscles and ligaments and cause pain in the pelvic area.
What to do: doing physical activities can help strengthen the muscles of the pelvis and also the back muscles. In addition, avoid wearing high heels or supporting yourself on just one leg when standing. During sleep you should keep your back supported and put a pillow between your knees. In some cases, the doctor may also advise a pregnancy belt to support your bump or physiotherapy to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
3. Hormonal changes
Pelvic pain can be caused by the release of an hormone called relaxin which acts by relaxing the ligaments and joints of the hips and the pelvis to make room for the growing baby. In addition, this hormone is released in bigger quantities during labor to ease the passage of the baby, and it may cause pelvic pain, which improves after labor.
What to do: you will need to rest and do certain exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles. The doctor may also recommend wearing a belt for the hips to help stabilize the joints and improve well-being.
4. Increase in mother’s weight
For nine months each woman may put on 15 to 26 pounds and that increase in weight can overload the pelvic muscles and ligaments causing pain, which may be more frequent in women who are overweight or that had a sedentary lifestyle before getting pregnant.
What to do: avoid wearing high heels and wear more comfortable shoes, and avoid straining your back by using your arms to support yourself when sitting down or getting up. It’s important to do light-intensity activities such as walking and hydrogymnastics to control weight and strengthen the pelvic muscles. We recommend you also go on a balanced diet with the help of a doctor or nutritionist so that pregnancy weight is healthy.
5. Placental abruption
Placental abruption can happen in any stage of pregnancy and one of the symptoms is sudden pain in the pelvis that comes associated with other symptoms such as hemorrhage, intense abdominal pain, weakness, paleness, sweating, or tachycardia.
What to do: if you suspect of placental abruption you should seek medical help immediately or go to the nearest emergency department to get examined.
Some infections such as urinary tract infection, gastrointestinal infection, appendicitis, or sexually transmitted diseases can cause pelvic pai, but usually come with other symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea or vomiting.
What to do: seek medical help immediately to start the most adequate treatment which can be done with antibiotics if prescribed by a doctor.
When to go to a doctor
It’s important to seek medical help as fast as possible when the pelvic pain comes with other symptoms, such as:
- Fever or chills;
- Pain or stinging when urinating;
- Pain in the intestinal region;
- An intense pain on the right side of the abdomen.
In these cases, the doctor will need to prescribe laboratory tests such as a complete blood count and hormone level tests, blood pressure tests, and scans like ultrasound, and cardiotocography to assess the mother’s and the baby’s health and start adequate treatment.