"I have severe pubic bone pain during pregnancy. What should I do?"
Let's examine more about pubic bone pain during pregnancy, why it happens, and some possible treatment options.
Let’s examine more about pubic bone pain during pregnancy, why it happens, and some possible treatment options.
What is pubic bone pain during pregnancy?
Pubic bone pain during pregnancy is quite common, and is most often encountered in the third trimester. The cause for this pain is usually a condition known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD).
The pubic symphysis is the ligament that joins your pubic bones together at the front. During the later part of your pregnancy, the body produces the hormone relaxin in elevated levels. This helps your joints and ligaments to soften, relax and loosen up. It is the body’s way of preparing the mum for labour.
However, this might lead to the joints in your pelvis moving unevenly, or cause changes to the way your muscles work, making the symphysis pubis joint less stable, and leading to pain and swelling.
Symptoms of pubic bone pain during pregnancy
The most common symptoms of pubic bone pain during pregnancy are:
- Pain in the pubic area and groin (Pain over the pubic bone at the front in the centre, roughly level with your hips)
Movements like getting out of bed, walking up or down the stairs, standing on one leg (for example, to wear your pants) or even rolling from side to side, might get difficult and painful. The pain may also get worse at night.
- Swelling in the pubic bone area
- Pain across 1 or both sides of your lower back
- Pain in the area between your vagina and anus (perineum)
- Waddling while walking (due to relaxing and loosening of the pelvic ligaments)
- Pain, along with a grinding or clicking sensation in your pubic area, when walking or moving your legs
- Pain down the inside of your thighs or between your legs.
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You are more likely to experience pubic bone pain during pregnancy if:
- You have had pubic bone pain in a previous pregnancy
- You are carrying multiples
- If this is not your first baby
- You were overweight before pregnancy
- If your baby is very large
- You have had an injury to your pelvis before
Treatment of pubic bone pain during pregnancy
- Exercises to strengthen your spinal, tummy, pelvic girdle, hip and pelvic floor muscles can help.
Here is how to exercise your pelvic floor muscles:
- Sit, stand or lie in a comfortable position.
- Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles. This should feel like you’re trying to stop yourself from passing wind or stopping your flow of urine mid-stream.
- Hold this contraction for up to 10 seconds, then relax for a few seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Try to do 3-4 sets of 10 contractions every day, without having to hold your breath or squeeze your legs together
- Exercises in water may also help.
- Your doctor or physiotherapist can advise you on how to make daily activities less painful and on how to make childbirth easier.
Sometimes pain relief medication like analgesics and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed.
Avoid situations that cause pain. For example, don’t stand on 1 leg when putting on pants.
Avoid standing for long periods of time, as this puts additional pressure on the pelvis. Wear flat, supportive shoes while walking.
If it hurts more at night, try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs.
- Some women like to use a pregnancy binder or pelvic support belt, which can help stabilise the area.
- Rest when you can. Get help with household chores from your partner, family and friends. Avoid lifting heavy weights such as shopping bags, or a toddler.
Do note that, in most cases, pubic bone pain goes away shortly after delivery, as the production of relaxin stops. If you still experience pain, and don’t seem to feel better, it is better to consult your doctor. She might recommend an X-ray or additional therapies to strengthen the muscles in the pubic bone area.