Jessica Ennis-Hill’s postnatal physio, Claire Merrett, gives us the lowdown on what pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is and reveals the exercises that can help you get better…
“Don’t let anyone tell you that pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is something that you have to put up with. It isn’t!” says Claire Merrett, Jess’ postnatal physio.
“At our clinic, we get so many mums who have been told, ‘You’re pregnant, put up with it,’ and that can really negatively affect their pregnancies.
“The truth is that there are plenty of exercises and treatments that can help to alleviate PGP, but there’s not enough information out there about what helps.
“I’m passionate about making women’s pregnancies positive, which is why I want to spread the word about the exercises that can ease this common pregnancy issue.
“According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, pelvic girdle pain affects 1 in 5 pregnant women. If that’s you, we’re here to help.”
First off, what exactly is your pelvic girdle?
“Before we go any further, let’s identify exactly where your pelvic girdle is. To do this, put your hands around your hips. You’ll feel a ring of bone which wraps around your pelvis. This is your pelvic girdle and it’s made up of your two pelvic bones, which are held together by three joints: the pubic symphysis in the front and centre, and two sacroiliac joints at the back.”
So, what causes pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy?
“There are number of factors that contribute to this, but the main ones are the fact that your pelvic girdle has to carry a lot of weight as your bump grows; your ligaments are naturally looser (thanks to the release of relaxin) in pregnancy, plus your posture changes as your bump gets bigger. All of this can lead to inflammation or unevenness in the way your pelvic joints move, and you may even hear some grinding and clicking noises. While it’s completely safe for your baby, it can be very painful for you, especially when you’re walking, going up and down the stairs or climbing out of your car.”
There are some fabulous core exercises on the Jennis Pregnancy app that can help to ease pelvic girdle pain symptoms
Why do some women get it and not others?
“The likelihood of you getting pelvic girdle pain is completely unrelated to your size or previous fitness level but it can be related to you having a history of pelvic pain or had a previous traumatic delivery.
“Interestingly, having a super-bendy body, even before your pregnancy, can also increase your chances of having pelvic girdle pain. ”
How can you ease your symptoms?
“There are several things you can do to help. First, avoid any twisting movements, for example when you are getting in or out of a chair, or doing any vacuuming.
“In bed, sleep with a pillow between your knees and when rolling over, make sure you keep your knees together.
“To get you out of bed without experiencing any twinges, try this tip: roll onto your side and keep your knees together. Then, swing your legs over the side of the bed (still keeping your knees together) and at the same time push up through your arms.
“If you’ve a baby or toddler, don’t carry them on your hip. And make sure you regularly stretch out your quad muscles – tight quads can put a huge stress on your pelvis.
“If you are really struggling, it’s also important to book an appointment with a chartered physiotherapist. They will have more advice that’s specific to your needs and they may recommend a pelvic belt that can give you extra support. ”
Is it OK to exercise with pelvic girdle pain?
“Exercise can definitely help pelvic girdle pain – but you may just need to modify some of your workouts to avoid movements that involve twists or your legs being too far apart. Remember, if it hurts, stop. You shouldn’t experience any pain when exercising. ”
Make sure you regularly stretch out your quad muscles – tight quads can put a huge stress on your pelvis
Are there any exercises that can ease pelvic girdle pain symptoms
“There are some fabulous core exercises on the Jennis Pregnancy app that can help ease pelvic girdle pain symptoms and to help you identify the best ones, we’ve created a Pelvic Girdle Help playlist in the Jennis Pregnancy Extras section.”
Will pelvic girdle pain affect my labour and birth?
“Yes, it can – so when you’re writing your birth plan, make it really clear to your midwife that you have this condition. You need to set out how your pelvic girdle pain is affecting your mobility and just how far apart your knees can comfortably go – as this will impact which positions you can be in for the labour and birth. “Where possible, you need to request that you won’t have your legs apart and raised for any procedure – and that includes if you’re having an epidural. If this can’t be avoided, ask for your legs to be moved slowly and at the same time. ”
What about after the birth?
“The good news is that your pelvic girdle pain will slowly improve over the next few months – for most women, symptoms will have gone by three months after the birth, but for some the pain may last for longer.
“But, in the meantime, you’ll still need to be careful. Make sure you book a follow-up appointment with your physio, and continue avoiding any twisting and bending movements and having your legs too far apart. Don’t carry your baby’s car seat for long distances, and try not to breastfeed sitting up in bed with your legs straight out in front of you. A pelvic belt may still offer some relief.”
For more information and advice on dealing with pelvic girdle pain, both before and after the birth, visit the very brilliant Pelvic Partnership.