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Understanding and Managing Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a transformative journey, but it often comes with its share of discomforts and challenges. One common issue that some pregnant women face is pelvic girdle pain (PGP). PGP can be a source of discomfort and pain, affecting the pelvic region, hips, and lower back. In this article, we will delve into the details of PGP, including its causes, symptoms, prevalence, and ways to cope with it.

What is pelvic girdle pain (PGP)?

Pelvic girdle pain, often referred to as PGP, is a condition characterized by pain in the pelvic area during pregnancy. According to Dr. Shobha Gupta, medical director and IVF specialist at the Mother’s Lap IVF Centre in New Delhi and Vrindavan, PGP typically starts during the second trimester of pregnancy. The intensity of pain can vary from mild to severe, making it a challenging experience for some expectant mothers.

Symptoms of PGP

Dr. Payal Narang, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at Motherhood Hospital Lullanagar, Pune, describes PGP as a “common discomfort” during pregnancy. The key symptoms of PGP include pain in the front and back of the pelvis, as well as discomfort in the hips and lower back. The intensity of these symptoms can vary and may worsen with certain activities.

What causes pelvic girdle pain?

The exact cause of PGP is not always clear, but it is often associated with several factors. Dr. Gupta explains that hormonal changes, increased joint flexibility, and the pressure exerted by the growing baby on the pelvic region can contribute to the development of PGP. However, it’s essential to note that not all pregnant women will experience PGP, as each person’s pregnancy journey is unique. The risk of developing PGP may be influenced by genetics, prior pregnancies, and overall health.

Prevalence of PGP

Pelvic Girdle Pain does not affect all pregnant women, but it is estimated that approximately 20 percent of expectant mothers will experience some degree of PGP during their pregnancy. Factors such as a history of musculoskeletal problems, previous pregnancies, or increased body weight may increase the likelihood of developing PGP, as noted by Dr. Narang.

Coping with Pelvic Girdle Pain

Managing PGP during pregnancy is crucial to ensuring the well-being and comfort of the expectant mother. Here are some measures that can help cope with PGP:

  1. Prenatal Care: It is essential to consult with your healthcare provider to confirm the diagnosis of PGP and discuss pain management options tailored to your specific needs.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can provide exercises and techniques aimed at strengthening and stabilizing the pelvis, which can help alleviate PGP discomfort.
  • Supportive Devices: Maternity belts and pelvic support garments can provide relief by reducing the pressure on the pelvis, making daily activities more manageable.
  • Rest and Posture: Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain and focus on maintaining good posture throughout your pregnancy. Proper body mechanics, especially when lifting or getting out of bed, can help reduce discomfort.
  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying a warm or cold compress to the painful area can provide temporary relief from PGP discomfort.
  • Pain Medication: Under the guidance of your healthcare provider, some pain relief medications may be considered. However, it is crucial never to take medication without consulting a medical professional first.
  • Sleep Comfort: Use pillows to support your body and maintain a comfortable sleeping position, which can help reduce nighttime discomfort.

Dr. Narang emphasizes the importance of gentle prenatal exercises like pelvic tilts and Kegel exercises, which can strengthen pelvic muscles and provide stability during pregnancy. Additionally, maternity belts and pelvic support bands can alleviate discomfort by offering additional support to the pelvic area.

What to keep in mind

To manage PGP effectively, maintaining good posture is crucial, and it’s essential to avoid activities that worsen the pain. Dr. Narang advises using proper body mechanics when lifting or getting out of bed to minimize strain on the pelvic region.

However, it’s important to remember that every pregnancy is unique, and the experience of PGP can vary from person to person. Therefore, seeking guidance from a healthcare provider is essential if you experience pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy. They can provide personalized advice, address specific concerns, and rule out any underlying medical issues.

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) can be a challenging aspect of pregnancy for some women, causing discomfort and pain in the pelvic region, hips, and lower back. While PGP doesn’t affect all pregnant women, it’s essential to be aware of the symptoms and seek proper guidance from healthcare professionals if needed. By following recommended measures, including prenatal care, physical therapy, and supportive devices, expectant mothers can better cope with PGP and ensure a more comfortable pregnancy journey. Remember that every pregnancy is unique, and healthcare providers are there to provide personalized guidance and support throughout this transformative experience.

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