Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is the term for pain in the pelvic area during and after pregnancy. The pain is caused by changes in posture, changes in strength, and a clever old hormone called relaxin, which loosens ligaments and tissue during pregnancy. This is partly so that your pelvis can widen enough to birth a baby (and your uterus relaxes to avoid unwanted contractions), but has the side effect of pelvic girdle pain around the sacroiliac joints (two at the back of the pelvis) and the symphysis pubis (at the front).
Pelvic girdle pain can come on gradually or suddenly after a fall or slip. If you’ve had PGP before, or you have an old pelvic injury, or a history of lower back pain or hyper-mobility, you are more likely to suffer from PGP.
Generally, after you’ve given birth, your pelvic pain will start to go because the load is gone and your hormones will begin to normalise. But for some people it can continue. Pregnancy hormones can linger well beyond the fourth trimester and until a few months after you stop breastfeeding.
Early intervention is crucial with PGP. You should prevent movements that compensate but injure other areas and learn safe ways to move to prevent further aggravation. If you’re experiencing PGP, make sure you speak to your midwife about it and ask to be referred to a women’s health physiotherapist.