Pregnancy is the pain in the butt. Literally. This is my third time around, and some days I can hardly walk. It has gotten progressively worse in every pregnancy! I hurt in my lower back, all around my pelvis, and even in my thighs. I haven’t even reached the halfway point (currently I’m 17 weeks).
There are a lot of things going on that cause this pain—primarily a hormone called relaxin and stretching ligaments (which explains why it gets worse with each pregnancy). My mom is a physical therapist, and she sent me a very informative article about posterior pelvic pain if you want to know more of the science.
So what’s someone like me—pretty active, chasing kids around all day—supposed to do???? Pushing through the pain just makes it worse. With research and trials, I’ve come up with a few helpful strategies. Hopefully you’ll find this advice useful, whether you’re pregnant, planning on being pregnant, or know someone going through this.
- The right exercise. In my previous pregnancies, I did a lot of walking. This grew more difficult the later I progressed with my second pregnancy, and this time around it’s almost impossible on some days. I’ve needed to focus on exercise that will strengthen my core muscles without putting additional strain on my poor ligaments. My mom got me this Pilates Workbook for Pregnancy and I really think it has helped. I try to fit in at least ten minutes a day, which is very manageable. Other good options include swimming, prenatal yoga and even some basic Just be careful; whatever you do, stop if it’s too hard or you’re starting to strain.
- Good posture. Pilates has taught me to be more aware of what it feels like to hold my body in “neutral” so that I’m not holding myself up with my ligaments instead of my core muscles. I also have been trying very hard not to cross my legs when sitting, which is difficult because I always cross my legs!
- Sleeping on my side. You’re technically supposed to sleep on your left side for optimal comfort and blood flow during pregnancy, but I tend to roll onto my back into the middle of the night. I always hate myself in the morning when I do, and so do my aching hips! Thus I do everything possible to make myself stay on my side. Sometimes just the awareness helps whenever I wake up in the middle of the night.
- Supportive footwear. If I’m going to be on my feet a lot, even (especially) inside my house, I always try to wear my Nikes or my Danskos. I regret it later if I wear flats, heels, or go barefoot for too long.
- A maternity support brace. In spite of my efforts to strengthen my core muscles, I am apparently still a weakling.I just ordered a brace last week, and it has been liberating. I was on my feet almost all day yesterday being a psycho cleaning lady, and by the end of the day I was amazed that I didn’t want to keel over. (Edited: later I also ordered some maternity compression pantyhose, and they were a necessity as I got bigger. Talk to your OB about getting a prescription for these items and they may be at least partially covered by your health insurance!)
- Duh. It’s hard, but sometimes I just have to listen to my body’s cues.
- Pain management. If it gets really bad I take some acetaminophen (Tylenol). My OB says you can also take ibuprofen in the second trimester (talk to your doctor first before doing this!). Never ever take aspirin or really anything else.
In the past I’ve also done prenatal massage therapy, but currently I seem to be managing okay with the above techniques. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the way. I’m not 100 percent pain free, but I feel like the pain is under control.
I know I’m not alone in this! Tell me about your aches and pains and how you deal with them!
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