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Pregnancy Aches and Pains – Normal or Not?

Is [insert symptom] normal during pregnancy? This question crossed my mind countless times during both of my pregnancies, and it’s a question I hear often from other pregnant women. Especially if this is your first pregnancy, you really don’t know what to expect!

As wonderful and miraculous as pregnancy is, it’s not without its challenges. There are a lot of weird and uncomfortable symptoms you may experience, and pain can pop up in some weird places! You may have heard other pregnant women complain of aches and pains or maybe you are experiencing pain during pregnancy. It seems to be pretty common, right? But is pain during pregnancy normal? Can anything be done about it?

Spoiler alert: Most of the time the best approach to pain during pregnancy is NOT “just wait and it’ll get better after you have the baby.” **Excuse me while I roll my eyes…**

Loosey-Goosey Joints

During pregnancy your body produces a hormone called relaxin. This hormone helps all your joints and ligaments loosen in order to expand and become more mobile for labor and delivery. Think about it – there needs to be some extra wiggle room down there for your baby to pass through the openings in your pelvis.

The joints around the pelvis are often where you may feel this change in laxity. Unfortunately, the extra mobility around the pelvis can lead to SI joint pain, pubic symphysis pain, low back pain, or sciatica (numbness or tingling down the leg).

pain during pregnancy

Muscles Work Overtime During Pregnancy

Because your joints have more mobility during pregnancy, your muscles have to work even harder to stabilize them. This can cause tightness, pain, or soreness in those muscles. Ever-changing posture, weight gain, and muscle weakness can all contribute to muscle pain during pregnancy as well.

These are just some of the major muscles that are impacted by pregnancy:

  • Mid back
  • Abdominals
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip flexors
  • Pelvic floor

Pelvic Floor Tension

Besides stabilizing our pelvis and low back, the pelvic floor muscles also support our internal organs. During pregnancy your internal organs now weigh 10#/20#/30# more than what they used to. Growing uterus + growing baby = a lot of extra stress placed on your pelvic floor muscles!

Besides feeling weak or tired (pelvic heaviness), your pelvic floor muscles may also become tight. (Honestly, that pelvic floor tension is sometimes there pre-pregnancy, and the extra stress on the pelvic floor during pregnancy makes it tighten up more). Pelvic floor tension can cause pain in your tailbone, pelvis, hips, and/or back. You may also experience leaking, urinary urgency, painful intercourse, or difficulty using the bathroom (incomplete emptying, difficulty relaxing to urinate, chronic constipation) with pelvic floor tightness. Check out this blog post to learn more about how to resolve pelvic pain and pelvic floor tightness.

Can Pain During Pregnancy be Fixed?

What many women aren’t told is that while pain during pregnancy is common, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be addressed, lessened, and/or resolved. There is often something that can be done DURING pregnancy. You don’t have to just wait it out until your baby arrives! In pelvic floor physical therapy, we use a combination of hands-on techniques and exercises to calm tight and angry muscles. We also work on strengthening to give more support and stability to the area to decrease your pain during pregnancy.

All of these types of pain during pregnancy CAN BE addressed in physical therapy:

  • Back or hip pain
  • Pelvic or tailbone pain
  • Pubic symphysis pain
  • SI joint pain
  • Sciatica
  • Round ligament pain

Have an Enjoyable Pregnancy!

If you are experiencing any pain during pregnancy or have any “Is this normal?” questions, contact us. You don’t just have to wait until your baby is born for your pain to get better! (And please send my eye roll to anyone who tells you otherwise!) We’d love to help your pregnancy be as enjoyable and pain-free as possible!

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