Postpartum

Pelvic Pain: What to Expect, How to Cope

5 min read

Key Points

 

  • Pain should not be accepted as a side effect of pregnancy but dealt with all means to avoid life-impacting changes
  • The structure of the pelvic area can contribute to pain in a direct way
  • Traumatic injury or temporary damages to the pelvic area during childbirth also results in pain
  • Pregnancy weakens pelvic muscles and ligaments, which start to harden after childbirth causing women to feel postpartum pelvic pain
  • Women often report difficulty urinating and decreasing bowel movements

Pelvic pain during postpartum is much more than just a medical issue and has the potential to affect your lifestyle long after childbirth. It is actually a common complaint of women who have carried children. Even those with a perfect and event-free pregnancy are likely to feel discomfort during postpartum. Statistics indicate one in every four women suffers from postpartum pelvic girdle pain and it can continue for months after childbirth. Some mothers report it years afterward.

 

The causative factors range from pregnancy-related hormonal disturbances and biomechanical changes to trauma suffered while giving birth and nutritional deficiency thereafter. Our immediate advice: Don’t wait for the pain to improve with time; seek the guidance of medical professionals including Physical Therapy and Chiropractic Care. 

 

Studies show that pelvic pain during postpartum can progress to become a serious issue for 7% of the U.S. population. Many women report that the continuous coping of lower back pain greatly contributes to their own postpartum depression. 

 

Understanding The Pelvic Pain

New mothers are at risk to experience pain in the pelvic area as they sit or walk while seasoned moms that are beyond their postpartum may experience the pain during exercise, sex, and random tasks like emptying the clothes from the dryer. Moms commonly wrongly self-diagnose this level of discomfort as sciatic nerve pain. This is greatly due to coping mechanisms that do not alert the brain that the pain is more present and active. Instead, women who cope tend to not feel this discomfort until the pain has surpassed tolerable limits. This then tricks the brain into believing that the pain that is presently felt is a first or inconsistent episode of pain. Women who have carried children commonly disassociate pain and have to give concerted effort to recognize the body’s messenger system beyond having a high threshold or tolerance for pain.

 

Your pelvic floor consists of the pelvis, connective tissues, muscles, nerves, and ligaments. The pelvis, which has the hip bone, the tailbone, and the lower end of the spine, is helped by muscles and ligaments to provide support to the lower belly, the womb, and the uterus. 

During pregnancy, hormonal changes cause the pelvic area to stretch to support the womb and allow the baby to move out of the birth canal during the delivery. This often destabilizes the alignment of the spinal cord and ligaments leading to possible pelvic sensitivities after childbirth. In normal cases, this pain clears within days to weeks. But for others, this could be just the beginning of a constant reminder of having carried and delivered a baby.

 

Some Risk Factors of Pelvic Pain During Postpartum include:

  • Hormonal changes, such as increased production of relaxin in pregnant women
  • Weakened pelvic muscles are intolerable to the weight and size of the fetus
  • Body posture or gait changes with increased load on the pelvic area
  • Wear and tear of sacroiliac joints and pelvic functional problems
  • Post-surgical injury (like emergency c-section)
  • Prolonged and complicated labor trauma
  • Injury to the coccyx or tailbone
  • The lack of sleep following childbirth
  • Calcium and Vitamin D deficiency
  • Pubic symphysis joint sprain
  • Obesity
  • Malnourishment

 

How To Know If You Have Pelvic Injury

Symptoms of pelvic injury during postpartum can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the extent of injury to the pelvic area. For example, when the pubic symphysis joint is sprained during the delivery, you may feel mild to moderate pain. But its separation may result in acute, severe pain in the pelvis, thighs, and sacroiliac joints.

 

You may experience pelvic pain continuously or randomly like while having sex, standing, turning on the bed, getting up from a chair, or picking up weights. It may be felt in the buttocks, thighs, or the front of the pelvis. 

 

The Impact on Your Life

Pelvic pain during postpartum may last from a few months or take many years to completely subside. The more severe the case, the longer the recovery can be. Pelvic pain can cause physical restraint and emotional disturbances which can lead to Postpartum Depression. Postpartum pelvic pain may lead to aversions to participate in intercourse. Women often report difficulty urinating and decreasing bowel movements with this type of pain.

 

Sacral pain impacts the postpartum recovery process and is a major issue for mothers returning to their jobs after childbirth. SI joint, pain in the tailbone, and sciatic can definitely be a serious disruption to every active woman. 

 

Because Postpartum women may experience a higher level of stress and frustration, the psychosocial impact can exacerbate postpartum mental health decline which may interfere with the ability to take care of a newborn the way a mother may desire to but be constrained because of pain.

 

How To Treat, Avoid Pelvic Pain 

Treatment options vary from prescription drugs to conservative pain management. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen are known to help treat pain but may have their own side effects. Lactating mothers also have limitations in taking many painkillers for fear of injury to the baby. Hemp products are recommended and a natural approach for mothers who are interested in avoiding synthetic medicine.

 

Heat and cold therapy, acupressure, changes in body postures, strength training, and physical therapy may also help alleviate the pain.  While adequate nourishment during pregnancy and postpartum enables faster healing of the pelvic sprain or injury. Strengthening bones and muscles with supplements helps cope with the pelvic injury and pain in a more progressive and natural way beneficial and safe for both you and your baby- especially if you are lactating.

Tue, Aug 18, 20
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