Pelvic instability or pain during or post-pregnancy? What is it and what can you do to manage it?

By Meg Doyle


What is pelvic instability or pelvic girdle pain?

Pelvic girdle pain is a condition that is very common in both pregnant and post-natal women, with a prevalence of approximately 63% at the 30th week of gestation and 31% at 3 months post-partum. It occurs due to factors such as muscle spasm, muscle weakness, increases in the hormones which cause soft tissue to lengthen and relax, and previous musculoskeletal concerns such as low back pain.


This condition is not harmful to your baby but it has many uncomfortable and painful symptoms including:


  • Pain over the front of the pubic bone (pubic symphysis) or sacral region (sacroiliac joint)
  • Pain in the area between the anus and vagina (perineum)
  • Low back pain
  • Pain radiating down the legs
  • Clunking or grinding sensations in the pelvic area
  • Pain with every day tasks such as walking, going up and down stairs or turning in bed

So, what can you do to begin to manage this condition yourself when you are pregnant?

It is important to begin managing this type of condition as early as possible so that pain and discomfort can be kept under control for the duration of your pregnancy. There are many different things you can try, as including:

  • Keeping your knees together, but not crossed
    • Try sleeping with a pillow between your legs
    • Get in and out of the car with your knees together (try swivelling on a plastic bag!)
  • Avoiding standing on only one leg
    • Try sitting down to put your pants or shoes on rather than standing
    • Take stairs one at a time
  • Avoiding carrying heavy things on one side of your body, including babies or toddlers
  • Icing the painful area for a maximum of 10 – 15 minutes as needed
  • Seeing your Physiotherapist for soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation and advice
  • Doing specific strengthening exercises of the gluteal and/or deep abdominal muscles which support the pelvis, as prescribed by your Physiotherapist
  • Wearing a pelvic support as prescribed by your Physiotherapist
  • Avoiding specific tasks that increase your pain as you are able
  • Planning rests between more strenuous tasks
  • Keeping active within your limits (eg. reduce your time walking if that is what aggravates your pain)

If you have any concerns about how your pelvic pain may affect your labour the birth of your child, speak with your obstetrician or midwife.

If you are unsure if what you are experiencing is pelvic pain, call to our clinic on 8555 4099 or BOOK ONLINE for an assessment with a Physiotherapist.