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  • What the Pain in Your Pelvic Area Means When You Are Pregnant

    Pelvic pain in pregnancy is usually a no big deal, but in some cases, it warrants immediate medical attention.
    by Rachel Perez .
What the Pain in Your Pelvic Area Means When You Are Pregnant
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Aches and pains are typical symptoms of pregnancy. Apart from backaches brought about by your shifting center of gravity, thanks to your growing baby bump, pelvic pain in pregnancy is one that warrants medical attention.

    Up to 8O percent of pregnant women experience pelvic pain at some point in their pregnancy. It's more common during the third trimester when the baby has descended into your pelvic area (also called lightening) about two to four weeks before your due date. It's one of the signs that your baby is getting ready to come out.

    But some women may feel a few twinges of pain to debilitating aches in the pelvic area even before labor and delivery is near. Just because they're caused by having a little one in your tummy doesn't mean you should just endure it with little to no hope for relief.

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    Common causes for pelvic pain in pregnancy

    Pelvic pain can range from mild ones similar to menstrual cramp-like pains to wrenching pains as if your pelvis is being torn apart, and there could be several possible causes. A pregnant woman's body goes through a lot of changes to make room for the growing baby and in preparation for childbirth.

    Accommodation pain

    Between Week 8 to Week 12, you may feel a bit of cramp-like pains, as if you're about to have your period because your uterus is expanding. Some women don't feel this at all, and it should go away on its own. You're not likely to feel it again in your succeeding pregnancies.

    Round ligament pain

    Increasing levels of the pregnancy hormones estrogen, progesterone, and relaxin loosens your ligaments and joints all over your body in preparation for childbirth. The American Pregnancy Association defines round ligament pain as sharp pain or jab in the lower belly or groin area or both.

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    The pain usually manifests during the second trimester when the tummy begins to expand, and the ligaments stretch to support the baby's weight. The pain is more evident when you change positions too quickly. You may find relief by sitting down or putting your feet up and adopting a regular pregnancy exercise routine.

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    Pressure from the baby's weight and excess weight gain

    As your baby grows inside you, his increasing weight puts pressure on your pelvic area. Aside from your growing baby, excess weight gain during pregnancy can add to the pressure and pain. Your weight gain also affects how big of a gap your ab muscles develop, called diastasis recti. If you've had it during your first pregnancy, you're going to have it again in your succeeding ones.

    Taking a warm bath, having a prenatal massage, exercising regularly, and watching your weight can help manage this type of pelvic pain in pregnancy.

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    Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)

    Physiotherapist Heba Shaheed, who specializes in women's and pelvic health and founder of The Pelvic Expert in Sydney, Australia, explains Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), also known as Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP), is a condition wherein the joint in front of your pelvis, the symphysis pubis, becomes exceptionally stretchy and unstable. This could lead to the joints becoming stiff or move unevenly, leading to pelvic pain.

    For some women, pain due to SPD can start soon after conceiving and will only get worse as your pregnancy progresses. Signs of SPD include feeling like your pelvic bone is being separated, having difficulty walking, standing on one leg, moving your legs apart, or turning over on the bed. The pain is concentrated on your pelvis and groin area and may seem to be spreading from your lower back and to your thighs.

    Wearing pelvic support belts can help ease the pain, as well as pelvic tilt exercises, and acupuncture. Pain medication is also an option.

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    Braxton Hicks contractions

    Braxton Hicks or false labor contractions are typically described as tightening of the belly and the pelvic area. They're usually irregular, do not increase in intensity, and go away when you change positions. (Know more about Braxton Hicks contractions here.)

    Urinary tract infection and constipation

    Preggos are more prone to urinary tract infection (UTIs) and constipation. These may also cause period-like cramps during pregnancy.

    Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids

    Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids can grow bigger during pregnancy and can add pressure to your growing uterus, causing persistent pain. The pain may suddenly get worse if the cysts rupture.

    Vulvodynia

    Vulvodynia is a condition that causes chronic pain in the vulva and vaginal area without any real cause. It does not affect the pregnancy or the baby, but it can be excruciating. Since the cause is unknown, it's challenging to find effective pain relief.

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    Do you need to worry about pelvic pain in pregnancy

    Sharp pain in the pelvic area can be an early sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Pelvic pain, accompanied by more symptoms such as bleeding or any unusual vaginal discharge, can also be a sign of preeclampsia, placenta issues, or uterine rupture, so don't hesitate to alert your doctor as soon as possible.

    It's also crucial for pregnant women to learn to differentiate pelvic pain from pelvic pressure. The latter is a sign that you're already in labor, causing the cervix dilates to make way for baby. Preterm labor can happen to anyone.

    Pelvic pressure is described as similar to period-like pains around your pelvis, rectum, and groin area. It is often accompanied by aching in the lower back, and sometimes an urge to push. It's also persistent, which means you feel no relief even after changing positions or taking medication. Start timing your contractions and head to the hospital as you're already in labor. (Read what labor pain feels like for moms here.)

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    Do you know the different signs of labor? Click here to find out.

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