Pain in Pregnancy

Most women take pain and discomfort in pregnancy as being normal. Even when pain is bad, and women complain to the obstetricians about it, most doctors dismiss it as the “normal” aches and pains of pregnancy. I did this too. After all, gaining 40 pounds with my first pregnancy (and losing it all), then gaining 50 pounds with my second (working on losing it now), I wasn’t exactly shocked when my lower back started hurting. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a watermelon on your belly is going to throw your back out of whack. One thing I probably would do differently, though, is to see a chiropractor. I would also have eaten healthier so I wouldn’t have gained as much weight (or lost weight prior to getting pregnant). In one way, I still accept some aches and pains as being normal. I might be wrong.

When my late-pregnancy symptoms that I had conveniently forgotten from my first pregnancy started in my second pregnancy, I was unpleasantly surprised. Not only did they start earlier, but they were worse. It was one thing to have a month or so of poor sleep before giving birth, but almost three months was a whole ‘nother story! I just couldn’t get comfortable, but attributed it to my greater weight gain. Finally, I mentioned it on a birth-y list I was on (a group of probably 10 or so women, all due about the same time, which was a cool coincidence), and one of them gave me this link, because of the specific symptoms I was having. I didn’t have all of the symptoms, but I had enough to agree with the “diagnosis.” Here is a summary of symptoms of “Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction” (and I strongly suggest that you click on the above link and read the entire page, and don’t just take, “Well, of course you’re uncomfortable, dearie–you’re pregnant!” as an answer):

  • pubic pain
  • pubic tenderness to the touch; having the fundal height measured may be uncomfortable
  • lower back pain, especially in the sacro-iliac area
  • difficulty/pain rolling over in bed
  • difficulty/pain with stairs, getting in and out of cars, sitting down or getting up, putting on clothes, bending, lifting, standing on one foot, lifting heavy objects, etc.
  • sciatica (pain in buttocks and down the leg)
  • “clicking” in the pelvis when walking
  • waddling gait
  • difficulty getting started walking, especially after sleep
  • feeling like hip is out of place or has to pop into place before walking
  • bladder dysfunction (temporary incontinence at change in position)
  • knee pain or pain in other areas can sometimes also be a side-effect of pelvis problems
  • some chiropractors feel that round ligament pain (sharp tearing or pulling sensations in the abdomen) can be related to SPD

The rest of the webpage has tips for coping, as well as what can be done to resolve the problem (chiropractic–but not every chiropractor will have heard of this or know how to treat it, so do some research first). You don’t have to suffer. Even after reading this page, I didn’t seek chiropractic care, because I assumed it would be too expensive and I didn’t think I had enough time (I was just a couple of weeks away from my estimated due date)–I thought all chiropractic adjustments took three visits a week for a month before you got “fixed.” After giving birth, I mentioned that on that same email list, and regrettably found out that it usually clears up after one visit.

But you might not have to seek chiropractic help! From Dr. Jennifer Padrta, a chiropractor who is on another email list that I’m on is the following:

This is excruciating….and I’ve seen it so much in pregnant moms – usually 1 -3 adjustments clear it up completely….but here’s what she can do at home to help it….
Have mom lie on her back on the floor with her feet on the floor and her knees up. Keep the feet touching and have dad put his hands between her knees. Mom needs to pull together while dad “wishbones” her legs….GENTLY. She may get a “pop” or a crunch sound or no sound at all – all of which is perfectly normal. She may even feel it in her sacroiliac (SI) joints. This is classic for pregnant moms. He keeps doing this until they strengthen up and he can’t pull them apart. If they don’t strengthen within a few days of doing this, then, she may need to go see a chiropractor and get her SI joints checked. Often, the pubic bone won’t release unless I’ve adjusted the SI joints and vice versa….since it’s all connected.
Ligaplex I from Standard Process works well during the beginning of the pregnancy. Usually 4 each day suffice until the 36th week of pregnancy, when I have moms stop it, so the ligaments can relax….but until then, it helps hold adjustments and joints together, which makes life a LOT more comfortable.

My friend complained to me about her pelvic pain, so I sent the above to her, and she said that one time of doing this exercise helped her tremendously. Don’t suffer needlessly. There is an answer.


14 Responses

  1. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog.

    This is a very helpful post.

    I’ve had it since 22 weeks and am now at 27 weeks. It took me until week 25 to get around to mentioning it to the midwife (midwives do the obstetrician bit here in the UK) who referred me for physio at once.

    I have a large elastic bandage to wear and a similar exercise to the one you’ve described, I have to lie on my back and squeeze a ball – along with a couple of others. After just three days I am noticing a marked improvement and most importantly, sleeping better as a result. After three weeks of the exercises – I had some muscle degeneration which needs fixed first – the physio is going to manipulate my back and pelvis to put anything which is “out” back where it should be. In the meantime I’m also wearing a huge elastic bandage, which also helps greatly! Reflexology (a type of foot massage based on pressure points) is also a great help if you can find a good practitioner.




  2. Thanks for your comment on my blog regarding this very same thing!
    It’s nice to know that I’m not alone.

  3. Thanks so much for link, well worth article and certainly what I am currently suffering with.
    Fingers crossed I don’t have much longer, due in 5 days!

  4. […] counter-pressure to my back. A nice chiropractic adjustment probably would’ve helped. I had pubic symphysis disorder, which I think may have contributed at least somewhat to the labor pain. Whether it was due to […]

  5. Hi thank you so much! I had this but only after I had my daughter! I am small 5ft 1 and petite frame and my daughter was 8lb 13! It lasted for roughly 3 weeks but was told it would come back next time I had a baby and heard horror stories about it! I now want another baby but didn’t think I could but now I can!!!! Really happy!

  6. Hi, im now 24 weeks pregnant and have suffered from pubic pain since 18 weeks, i was reffered to the physio about a week ago who gave me crutches to help walk and manage stairs, and i also have a brilliant bandage which is only a piece of material with velcro to do it up but the support is fanstastic, however it has not made the actual pain in my pubic bone go away. i have a feeling the pain is going to get worse but i guess there is nothing else which can be done other than to “take it easy”.

  7. Hi, Becky, thanks for stopping by!

    I’m glad you have been able to get some relief, and strongly urge you to check out the link I included in this post, as well as the “wishbone exercise” you can do at home, and possibly chiropractic care. Don’t give up until you’ve tried all avenues. Do the wishbone exercise daily until your husband (or whoever is helping you) can no longer gently pull your knees apart (and remind him that it’s not an Olympic sport — the emphasis is *gentle* not *pulling apart*). 🙂

    Your doctor may not be able to help you, but that does not mean you will not be able to get help! And, not to be negative, but hopefully to spur you on to trying these things, I did find that my discomfort increased as the pregnancy went on (and the weight of the baby increased). So do try to get help — outside the medical “establishment” if you can’t get any inside it.

  8. thank you for your information and story, it really helpful for us all.

  9. I too have been having these pains for the first time and this is my third pregnancy. I teach high school and have wondered why I have such a hard time walking so far from my car to class and wondered if I am much wimpier this time around. My worst pain is when I first wake up, roll over and/or try to walk in the morning. Also getting on all fours (trying to do exercises) and getting my pants on. Horrible pain but I think others wonder if I am just a wimp.

  10. I started at 28 weeks in my 2nd pregnacy. Took till 6 months after to get beeter. Then about 2 yrs. 4 months it separated again worse than when I was pregnant. Chiros helping alittle he is trying to get mt able to the wishbone but as of right now its to painful and even kegel. puts me into tears.

    • it is very debiliating pain I hav three children and I can’t look affter them. My doctordoes not believe it is so severe and does not what to do or who to send my to

  11. Tiffany,

    Check out the book “Ending Female Pain” by Isa Herrera, which I reviewed in this post. It may have more tips and insights and exercises to help you with this.

  12. Thanks that will help but right now I can’t do any exercises Kegel or even tightiening my stomach muscles. and I am in tears. But I will definitely get it

  13. Thanks for the information. I’ve had some advice from here but nothing helpful from the midwives and the physio I had post-natally didn’t help (my pelvic instability continued for 14 months post natal while I breast fed). I have a Nexcare maternity support belly band, serious scaffolding, for this pregnancy and it is helping a bit but more with round ligament pain than pelvic instability. It does help me to get things done around the house though e.g. lifting my toddler from her cot.

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