What is this Baby Doing to My Body?
Nathan Lambert, DOMP
During pregnancy, your body undergoes considerable changes, particularly with regard to the pelvis and abdomen.
Because of hormonal changes that occur during this period, the cognitive tissue of the pelvic joints temporarily becomes more pliable. (this is true of all the connective tissue, including that of the pelvic floor).
So the ligaments in your pelvic soften, allowing your pelvis to expand as your baby grows, which is a good thing. This “good thing” can lead to some not-so-good issues, though. An expanding pelvis can lead to instability, which can cause pain in your pubic bone and sacroiliac joints — a common source of discomfort during pregnancy and postpartum.
Between 50-80% of pregnant women will report SIJ (pelvis) or lumbar spine pain throughout their pregnancy. This pain is associated with the biochemical and structural changes that take place during pregnancy. When you are pregnant the hormone relaxin is produced and it continues to rise during the 1st trimester and in the final weeks of pregnancy. This hormone as the name suggests “relaxes” or loosens the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the body in order to allow the body to accommodate the growing baby.
So what does all this mean?
Well firstly, the increased weight of the belly means your pelvis tilts forward and as a result, your back compensates by arching back further i.e. the curve in your back deepens in order for you to maintain your balance. This “hyperlordotic” position can then cause the joints in your back to jam up and be irritated as the normal lubrication and movement through them is reduced.
What about the pelvis?
The joint between your pelvis (the illium) & your spine (the sacrum) is called the sacroiliac joint (SIJ). Normally the rough, groove like connecting surfaces of the sacrum and ilium interlock and help stabilise the joint. However when you are pregnant the relaxin hormone loosens and widens the joints at the front and back of the pelvis (SIJ and pubic symphysis) which reduces their stability and changes the efficiency of the muscles which attach around that region. Essentially the joint itself is loose, the ligaments become lax, and the muscles which usually stabilize the pelvis aren’t able to work as efficiently. When you put all this together with the increased load on the baby you have an unstable pelvis which often causes pain.
No amount of pain is normal! Just because pelvic pain is common due to the nature of pregnancy, doesn’t mean you should be stuck enduring it.
So how do I combat this discomfort?
• Avoid excessive unilateral (ie on one leg weight bearing activities eg excessive twisting, lifting, single leg stance postures, stair climbing.
• Avoid lifting or carrying heavy objects.
• Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs and under your pelvis.
• Stand upright as though someone is pulling on a string attached to the top of your head.
• Keep your knees slightly bent when standing as locking the knees can increase the amount of curvature on your lower back. • When sitting, choose a good straight backed chair and avoid slouching. Bend with your hips and not your back.
• Start training you pelvic floor muscles to prevent incontinence happening:
–try to not go to the toilet on the first urge, but wait till the second urge
–think of your pelvic floor muscles (muscles that allow you to hold your urine in) as a hammock and gently draw them up towards your belly; perform 10x 10 sec holds daily
-using those same muscles perform 10 strong contractions (no need to hold these)
If you have any questions or concerns about the pelvic pain you are experiencing give us a call at 905-892-1318 to book an appointment with me!
You deserve to live your best life each and every day!
– Nathan Lambert, DOMP