Pelvic pain is pain in the pelvic joints that may develop during or after pregnancy. Pelvic pain may occur because of:

  • changes to your posture
  • increased pressure on your pelvis due to the growth of your baby
  • hormonal changes which soften the ligaments that support the pelvis.

These changes can place increased strain on the pelvic joints making the joints inflamed and painful.

Approximately 20% of pregnant women experience pelvic pain during their pregnancy.

What you might feel

  • Clicking, locking or grinding in the pelvic joints.
  • Pain in the front or the back of the pelvis, buttocks, groin and/or radiating into the thighs. The shaded areas in the picture below are where pain commonly occurs.

Activities that may increase your pelvic pain

  • Prolonged walking.
  • Fast walking.
  • Getting in and out of the car or bed.
  • Rolling in bed.
  • Lying flat.
  • Deep squatting or lunging.
  • Going up and down stairs.
  • Standing on one leg (e.g. dressing – putting on pants).
  • Moving from sitting to standing.
  • High impact exercise (e.g. running and jumping activities).

Managing pelvic pain during your labour

  • Let the medical team know that you have had pelvic pain during your pregnancy.
  • If you have been using a compression garment, support belt or crutches during your pregnancy bring these into hospital to use after the birth.
  • Practice the positions below before you go into labour so you are familiar with the positions that are most comfortable for you.
  • Avoid positions where your legs are wide apart or where there is uneven weight through your legs.
  • Managing your pelvic pain

    To avoid increasing pelvic pain

    • Don’t push through pain.
    • Take smaller steps when walking.
    • Walk shorter distances.
    • Reduce heavy lifting and pushing and pulling activities such as, vacuuming.
    • Break up large tasks into smaller activities.
    • Rest in between activities.
    • Keep your knees together when rolling in bed.
    • Roll under rather than over when rolling in bed.
    • Sleep on your side with a pillow in between your legs.
    • Get in and out of bed with your knees together (see the diagram below).

    Tips to reduce your pelvic pain

    • Use an ice pack on the painful area for 20 minutes every 2–3 hours. Wrap the ice pack in a damp material so that the ice pack does not contact your skin directly.
    • Stand tall at all times.
    • Sit tall with back support.
    • Wear a compression garment or support belt (supplied by your physiotherapist).
    • Use crutches or a wheelchair (instead of walking long distances).
    • Perform strengthening exercises for the hip, pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles (as shown by your physiotherapist).
    • Use home massage or trigger points to release tight muscles (as shown by your physiotherapist).

    Remember, consult your doctor for advice about after the birth

  • Rest lying down rather than sitting in chair.
  • Continue to ice the painful area (20 minutes every 2–3 hours).
  • Use your compression garment, support belt and/or crutches if required.
  • Move within your pain limits.
  • Attend the physiotherapy postnatal class for information about pelvic pain after birth and return to exercise advice. See ward staff for class times and location.
  • If your pain persists you may see a physiotherapist at the Royal Women’s Hospital for up to 3 months after the birth of your baby.