Podcast Episode #116

How to sleep with pelvic pain during pregnancy

How to sleep with pelvic pain during pregnancy

Ahh pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy.  If you have pelvic pain and you’re having difficulty sleeping during pregnancy, you are certainly not alone, as pelvic pain and difficulty sleeping during pregnancy are unfortunately both quite common.

So, how to sleep with pelvic pain during pregnancy?

Let’s first discuss 4 important points.

What is pelvic pain?
How do you sleep with pelvic pain?
What are some management strategies for pelvic pain?
What do you need to consider for future/subsequent pregnancies, and your postnatal recovery?

What is Pelvic Pain?

According to the Australian Journal of General Practice, the majority of pregnant women might experience pelvic girdle pain at some point in time. And unfortunately, it is often under reported, and under treated, meaning it can cause havoc.  

Where is Pelvic girdle pain?

Pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy is generally at the front of your pubic bone, in your sacroiliac joints (around the back of your pelvis), the inner thighs, or the outer thighs.  Sometimes pelvic pain can be one sided, sometimes it can be both sides.

*please note, if you have any concerns about your pain levels, please do consult your healthcare professional.

What are the causes of pelvic girdle pain?

Postural changes

Our posture changes with pregnancy.  The growth of the baby and belly and the shift of gravity can cause different pressures and movements within the body.

Mechanical changes

The way we move changes, as a result of our posture changes and the growth of the baby. What used to be an easy walk now feels more like a waddle, and we move and walk differently compared to pre-pregnancy.

Hormonal changes

Our hormones change during pregnancy, preparing our body for birth. This may impact the joints and mobility of the pelvis.

So, these 3 factors combined, in combination with the demands of motherhood (caring for a toddler etc), may certainly be contributing to your pelvic girdle pain.

How do you sleep with pelvic pain?

This is the big question.  Sleep..  everyone needs sleep, especially pregnant mamas. Sleep deprivation can affect so many facets of our life…mental health, mood, diet. You might also find it affects your enjoyment of the pregnancy, and it can affects how you cope with looking after any toddlers.

So, let’s first discuss a few management strategies to help before you even lie down in bed.

And then, let’s discuss a few strategies for night time.

Day time strategies for better sleep with pelvic pain.

Trial regular ice on your bony joint areas.  Heat on the muscle area is also an option (listen to the podcast for more details).
Abdominal supports / pelvic supports.
Stretch tight muscles (see some options on Instagram @fitnestmama).
Mobility and relaxation around the pelvis (Pregnancy Exercise Program).
Exercises appropriate for pelvic pain.  Strength, stability, mobility and posture.
Horizontal rest, especially in the afternoons (5-10 minute bursts)
Break down tasks
Break up walking, or reduce the quantity / length of walk (or substitute with a more pelvic pain friendly exercise option for a few weeks).
Crutches for a few weeks to help pain settle (speak to your healthcare provider for advice on this).
And of course, these are general tips only, and if pain doesn’t settle or you have any concerns please do consult your healthcare professional and/or physio for assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan.

Night time strategies for better sleep with pelvic pain.

Using pillows to help with pelvic pain.

Pillows might become your friend. A pillow in between your knees, under your belly, hugging a pillow… there are so many options (listen to the podcast for more details).

Which pillow is best for pelvic pain and sleeping?

There are SO different pillows on the market. My suggestion is, try the cheapest option first, and what you already have lying around the house. If this doesn’t work, then perhaps you might want to think of other options, if you’ve already considered all your other management options.

What position should I sleep in with pelvic pain?

Consider the position of your body whilst lying on your side. Rather than sleeping directly side on, you might want to trial shifting slightly forward toward your tummy or back (with pillows for support). Trialling egg shell foam on mattress under sheet to help can also help to distribute weight.

When trying to move in bed, trial a ‘6 point turn’ to roll over. With pillow between knees, use glutes/bridge and gradually shift over in stages, rather than rolling in one go.

What can I do if I am stiff in the morning with pelvic girdle pain?

In the morning, if you’re stiff, before you get out of bed trial a few pelvic tilts/rocks, open book stretches.  Some gentle movement before starting your day.

Hope that helps ladies!

Come and trial some pelvic girdle friendly exercise options with the FitNest free trial.

Episode Links

Free 7 Day Trial Pregnancy / Postnatal Workouts

FitNest Mama Website

Instagram @fitnestmama

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