5 Tips for Managing Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy

Keeping a pillow between your knees reduces pain at night
Keeping a pillow between your knees reduces pain at night!

Symphysis Pubis Disfunction (SPD) or Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a common pregnancy ailment, caused by misalignment and mostly experienced in the latter part of the third trimester. For me, like many others, it was more severe; it appeared in my seventh week and by the second trimester I was in agony every day. I literally couldn’t walk for more than ten minutes without crutches and I was devastated that I wasn’t having the breezy, Blake Lively-styled pregnancy I had always imagined.

What I *thought* pregnancy would be like...
What I *thought* pregnancy would be like…
pregnancy pain
What pregnancy was actually like… (except with a messier bathroom)

After thirty weeks of near-constant pain, I went to see Mags Clark-Smith (a Pilates Instructor who specializes in Pain Management) at her studio in Kilmacanogue, Wicklow. Miraculously, after a couple of weeks, I put my crutches away for good. I wasn’t exactly skipping through a meadow, but the reduction in pain was immediate and life-changing. I felt like I could finally enjoy my pregnancy. Below, I have shared a few tips I learned from this wonderful woman:

  1. Keep Your Knees Together – Sitting with your knees wider apart than your fist will cause pain, so practice keeping your legs aligned as much as possible. And lets be honest, ‘knee’s apart’ got you into this in the first place, right? HA!
  2. The Plastic Bag Trick – Getting in and out of the car can be excruciating with SPD. Place a plastic bag under your bum so you can keep your knees together and swivel them into place. (Unless you have fancy leather seats that you can slide on anyway) This also works for bed-time, as wearing silky or satiny night clothes will allow you to move more freely and you’ll feel oh-so-sultry as you guzzle Gaviscon by the bottle while eating ice-cream… or was that just me?
  3. Getting out of Bed – Engage your tummy, lift up onto your elbows and twist onto your side. The use your hands to push up and swing your legs onto the floor. I never found this painless entirely, but it was a hell of a lot better than desperately trying to crawl to the bathroom in the middle of the night, stifling screams.
  4. Getting up the Stairs – Pull in your tummy muscles and stand tall. Try to imagine that you’re being pulled upwards but relax your shoulders. Keep your belly engaged, don’t pull on the banister and don’t bend. Pretend you’re floating up the stairs – the better you get at pretending, the easier climbing becomes.
  5. Pelvic Floor Exercises – these are the holy grail of pregnancy in general. Do them every day. Do them all day. Nobody told me this before I met Mags but if you are doing them right, you should feel the muscles of your lower belly contract, so check for that. A physio friend of mine calls these the “hold onto your man” exercises – make of that what you will…

If you live in the Wicklow or South Dublin area and are experiencing Pelvic Pain, I highly recommend seeing Mags Clark-Smith. She saw me twice on a one-to-one basis and then I joined her classes (I was on a tight budget) but in a few days she changed my pregnancy. Here’s a link to her website if you’d like to contact her.

Mags Clark-Smith

If you’re in the throws of SPD, I feel for you and I really hope this helps!