Pelvic pain during pregnancy


Pelvic pain during pregnancy

Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain is one of the most common causes of lower back and pelvic pain in pregnancy, affecting about 1 in 5 Australian mothers.[1] Our women’s health specialist at Lane Cove Physio is an expert at diagnosing and treating pelvic girdle pain before, during and after pregnancy.

What is pelvic girdle pain?

Pelvic girdle pain refers to musculoskeletal conditions affecting the sacroiliac joints, symphysis pubis and surrounding ligaments and muscles.

Pelvic girdle pain used to be known as symphysis pubis dysfunction and is often seen in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, more commonly in women with a history of prior lower back or pelvic pain.

What does pelvic girdle pain feel like?

Your pelvic girdle is a ring of bones around the base of your spine and when the three joints in your pelvis work together normally, they only move slightly. Pelvic girdle pain is usually caused by the joints moving unevenly, which can lead to the pelvic girdle becoming less stable and more painful.

When asked to locate their pain, many women will point to their entire pelvic area rather than point to a single source of pain. Different women have different symptoms, and in some women pelvic girdle pain is worse than in others.

You might experience pelvic girdle symptoms in one or more of the following ways:

  • pain in the pubic region, radiating to the lower back, hips, groin, thighs or knees
  • clicking or grinding in the pelvic area
  • sharp pain when you are walking, climbing stairs or turning over in bed

Early diagnosis and treatment can relieve your pelvic girdle pain.

Pelvic girdle pain is not something you just have to put up with until your baby is born. As your baby grows in the womb, the extra weight and the change in the way you sit or stand can put more strain on your pelvis, exacerbating symptoms.

A women’s health physio will be able to suggest the right treatment for your needs and the safety of your baby. This may include:

  • advice on avoiding movements that may be aggravating the pain
  • exercises that strengthen your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and can help relieve your pain and allow you to move around more easily.
  • manual therapy to gently mobilise the joints and help them move normally again. This should not be painful.
  • warm baths, or heat or ice packs
  • acupuncture or dry needling. Women receiving acupuncture or physiotherapy reported less intense pain in the morning or evening than women receiving usual antenatal care[2]

Aquatic natal classes are a specialty of Lane Cove Physio and have many benefits for women during pregnancy, whether they are experiencing pelvic girdle pain or not.

Hydrotherapy treatment for pelvic pain during pregnancy is safe at any stage under the guidance of a women’s health physio and your GP.

The outcomes for women with pelvic girdle pain who seek treatment during pregnancy are good, with 9 out of 10 of women reporting most symptoms subside after about 3 months of giving birth.[3]

However, pelvic girdle pain frequently recurs in subsequent pregnancies, with the painful symptoms no less painful.

To make a booking for an assessment or consultation with our women’s health physiotherapists, feel free to contact us on (02) 9428 5772 and we will do our best to answer all your questions and provide you with an appointment time.


[1] Chou LH, Slipman CW, Bhagia SM, Tsaur L, Bhat AL, Isaac Z, et al. Inciting events initiating injection-proven sacroiliac joint syndrome. Pain Med 2004;5(1): 26e32.

[2] Pennick V & Young G (2007) Interventions for preventing and treating pelvic and back pain in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Sys Rev 2007 Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001139.

[3] Bennis S, Rho M, Fitzgerald F. Rehabilitation of the pregnant and postpartum patient with pain. In: Mitra R, ed. Principles of Rehabilitation Medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2019:673–696.