Common Pregnancy Pains
Whether you’re expecting your first child or your fourth, pregnancy and the postpartum period can take a toll on your body in many different ways. Most mum’s and mums-to-be will experience some kind of physical pain and discomfort during their pregnancy, but some pain can be more severe than others.
Ligament pain is a "growing pain" caused by the round ligaments and can be felt in the stomach, hips and groin. Round ligament pain usually occurs between weeks 14 and 27 of pregnancy, in your second trimester. However, it may also occur earlier or later in pregnancy.
A ligament holds the uterus in place and connects it to the pelvis. On each side of the uterus (womb), the round ligaments are about ten to twelve cms long. When a woman is pregnant, her body produces hormones that help her ligaments stretch and become loose. This stretching can cause spasms in the round ligaments as the baby grows in the womb.
The pain caused by round ligaments is often described as being a sharp, stabbing or pulling pain.
Ligament pain can be experienced on one side of the body or both sides at the same time. It usually lasts less than a minute, but it can last for hours at a time. Sneezing, coughing, or laughing can exacerbate round ligament pain.
For frequent pain in your round ligaments, try these tips:
- A pregnancy belly band to support your growing baby, and
Taking over-the-counter pain medicine for a short time may be recommended by your healthcare provider if round ligament pain prevents you from doing your day-to-day tasks.
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)
If you experience pelvic pain during your pregnancy it may be the result of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).
SPD occurs when the ligaments that normally align your pelvic bone during pregnancy become too relaxed and stretchy before delivery. This creates instability, causing pelvic pain and some pretty strange sensations.
The most common symptoms are difficulty walking and wrenching pain (as if your pelvis is tearing apart). It usually affects the pubic area, but in some women, can affect the upper thighs and perineum as well.
The pain can worsen when you're walking and doing weight-bearing activities, particularly those that involve lifting one leg like climbing stairs, getting dressed, getting in and out of a car, or even turning over in bed.
Pregnant women suffering from SPD can ease symptoms by:
- Whenever possible, avoid triggers by sitting down, and avoiding heavy lifting and pushing, and when getting out of your car, keep your legs closed as much as possible and use your bottom to spin around. Even putting a plastic bag under your bottom may help you in turning.
- Use an ice pack or heating pad on the affected area. Do not leave a heating pad on for more than ten minutes at a time, as it can raise your body temperature.
To help prevent and lessen SPD, try to regularly practice kegel exercises and pelvic tilts to strengthen your pelvic muscles. In the case of severe pain, talk to your healthcare provider and seek a woman health physio
Pelvic Girdle Pain
A pelvic joint misalignment or stiffness can cause Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) during pregnancy, creating uncomfortable symptoms. It is not harmful to your baby, but it can cause severe pain around your pelvic area and make movement difficult.
Symptoms can include:
- Pubic bone pain,
- Lower back pain on one or both sides,
- Pain between your vagina and anus (perineum),
- Radiating pain in the hips, thighs, knees, legs, and lower back, and
- Pelvic grinding or clicking.
It is most noticeable when you are:
- Standing on one leg (for example, when getting dressed or going upstairs),
- Turning over in bed,
- Entering or exiting the car, or
- Having sexual intercourse.
Getting the right advice and treatment early on can help you manage and minimise the symptoms of PGP during pregnancy. Most women with PGP can achieve a vaginal birth.
Among the treatments available to relieve pain, improve muscle function, and improve pelvic joint position and stability are:
- Pelvic, hip, and spine physiotherapy,
- Strengthening your pelvic floor, stomach, back, and hips with exercise,
- Crutches and pelvic support belts, and
- Acupuncture may also relieve pelvic pain.
It can help to plan your day so that you avoid activities that cause you pain. For example, don’t go up or down stairs more often than you have to.
The first symptom of pregnancy, often breast pain, starts happening as soon as one to two weeks after conception. This sore breast sensation intensifies as the first trimester progresses due to your body’s hormone-fuelled growing and changes. Pregnancy hormones cause an increase in blood flow to the area, making your breasts larger. Growth in breasts can also cause itching and breakouts.
As your breasts grow, hormones work to develop milk-producing glands.
Don’t worry too much about this pain – sore breast pain tends to peak in the first trimester of your pregnancy.
Pregnant women often experience acid reflux or heartburn. Generally, you’ll start to feel indigestion-related symptoms shortly after consuming certain foods, but occasionally it can take up to a day or two for symptoms to show up and normally feels like a burning or pain in the chest area.
It’s common to experience heartburn at any point of your pregnancy, but it’s more common from the 27th week onwards.
How can you treat heartburn during your pregnancy? Making changes to your diet and lifestyle can ease indigestion and heartburn, and there are medications that are safe to take during pregnancy.
In most cases, adjusting your diet and lifestyle may be enough to control your symptoms, especially if the problem is mild.
Have you experienced any of these pregnancy symptoms? Or something else entirely? Let us know!