Pregnancy week 18 | Managing PGP (pelvic girdle pain)

Hi everyone,

Lower back pain, PGP, SPD, sciatica.... whatever it's called, I've been in a lot of pain recently and it's not going to go away by itself!

First all, let's get the disclaimer out there that I am not a doctor and if you are struggling too, I would highly suggest seeking professional advice from your midwife, GP or physiotherapist. Maybe reading this post you can find comfort in knowing you're not the only one and perhaps even find a helpful tip in this post to manage the issue.

What is this pain??

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by a stiffness of your pelvic joints or the joints moving unevenly at either the back or front of your pelvis. It was previously referred to as SPD and now referred to as PGP, don't ask me why. The discomfort can be in the lower back and/or on the pubic bone. Though midwives and doctors, and the NHS website, say 'it's not harmful to your baby', it can be life changing as it can be painful during walking, standing, lifting, sitting and sleeping. Basically everything daily life revolves around.

To top things off, the hormone Relaxin is coursing through your body during pregnancy which softens all your ligaments as your body prepares for birthing, making your pelvic area and lower back more prone to being unstable.

The back story

I have struggled with lower back pain and sciatica for around 10 years, before I fell pregnant with Alexiia who is now nearly 5 years old. It's been a personal project of mine to further understand how to avoid it, what aggravates it, what's beneficial and what's not.

So when lower back pain reared its ugly head again a few weeks ago, I felt like I was at a loss because I've been neglecting my trusty core and pelvic floor exercises ever since being around 5 weeks pregnant (my previous blog post might explain why). As the weeks have gone by and baby has grown, my lower back has increasingly arched and my core seems to have fallen asleep. I notice my pelvis has found it's way to an anterior tilt and I've not been taking good care of my posture the past few weeks. Time to make some changes.

Let's take note that many women struggle with this, in different degrees, and though midwives and doctors say it's normal during pregnancy, the level of pain and discomfort shouldn't be over looked. It can really take over a women's life, to the point where she's on crutches or in a wheelchair. No thanks!

Core exercises are not to be confused with 'ab workouts'.

Courtesy of experiencing back pain, the whole point of working my core has always been to provide stability for my back and build internal strength. Not only that but I found it enabled me to explore Yoga postures that I previously found challenging/uncomfortable and that my waistline was trimmer. Win win.

Core and pelvic floor exercises, paired with good posture whilst seated or standing makes a HUGE difference when it comes to back pain. I wanted to get to a point where I wasn't just putting up with it and actively doing something about it.

Regarding pregnancy, I'm carrying a lot lower than I did in comparison to Alexiia. I'm experiencing ligament pain, lower back pain, pain running down my left leg and the past few days, my pubic bone feels sore. I remember feeling like this a lot later in my first pregnancy, not at 18 weeks.

When I mentioned all this to my midwife, I think she thought I would be doing crazy stomach crunches and overdoing the whole pelvic floor thing. I don't want a six pack, I just want to stop walking like I've sh*t myself. I did try to explain what I think might help me and what I did in my first pregnancy but she said not to change anything workout wise.

I hobbled home thinking I can't put up with this pain anymore, I have a physical job and a life to lead. This has only got worse and clearly not getting any better so I grabbed some coffee (decafe) and started writing a plan.

What's causing it?

Though there's not one specific thing I can identify what's causing it and making it worse, I have noticed a few things that absolutely kill my back:

  1. Standing in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning for any more than 30 minutes.

  2. Running up and down the stairs cleaning and tidying the house.

  3. Certain Yoga postures, such as standing on one leg for long