Manage pelvic girdle pain

Two images of the female pelvic bones and a third image which is a lateral view of the skeleton showing the placement of the spine and pelvis.Your pelvic girdle is the ring of bones at the base of your spine. These bones and nearby ligaments and muscles support your torso (from your neck to the groin) and link your spine and legs.

During pregnancy these ligaments and muscles become more sensitive, and it may become harder to do certain activities. You may experience discomfort similar to that you feel from a bruise.

The following information may help minimise pain from your pelvis during daily activities while you are pregnant.

Modify your movements

Changing the way you move can help reduce pelvic girdle pain.

Getting in and out of the car

Sit down on the seat and turn your body around, keeping your knees and ankles together, into the front of the car. To make this easier, slit a plastic bag down its sides and put it on the seat. The top half of the plastic bag should slide as you turn.

Shorten your stride length

After correcting your posture, walk with small steps. Wearing supportive shoes will also help to reduce pelvic discomfort.

Take one step at a time on stairs

Avoid stairs where you can. Try walking up and down one step at a time or in a sideways position. Be sure to use the handrail.

Sex

Having sex while lying flat on your back can aggravate pelvic girdle pain. Try other positions such as lying on your side with a pillow between your legs.

Take weight through your arms

To lessen the weight on your legs when walking, try leaning on your shopping trolley, pram, a chair on wheels, crutches or walking frame. When getting out of a chair, pushing up with your arms may help reduce pain.

Stand correctly

Tuck your stomach in and your buttocks under when changing your standing or walking position. Keep some of your body weight on the balls of your feet and soften your knees. Read  more about maintaining good posture during pregnancy.

Put a pillow between your knees when sleeping

Have your top knee and toes in line with your hip when sleeping on your side. You may need two pillows for this. Remember to keep the pillow(s) between your knees when you turn.

Exercise safely
  • Try to avoid high impact activities such as running and jumping.
  • Walk rather than run.
  • Step rather than jump.
  • Maintain the strength of your abdominal, buttock, thigh and pelvic floor muscles by continuing to exercise.

Exercise in water

Exercising in water supports your body weight, enabling you to maintain strength and cardiovascular fitness without putting pressure on your pelvic girdle joints. It is also a great way to relax.

Try walking forward and backwards, swimming with a flutter or dolphin kick or exercising at the edge of the pool. Do not kick with breaststroke (frog kick).

Activities to avoid

Try to avoid the following activities.

Twisting your body

Make sure you move your feet. When moving from a lying position to a standing position, turn to your side and push up with your hands.

Standing on one leg

Stand with equal weight on both feet. If you are standing for long periods of time, put one foot on a book or bottom shelf and change feet every ten minutes. Put your clothes, underwear and shoes on sitting down.

Crossing your legs

Sit symmetrically on the chair. Keep your hip bones, kneecap and middle toe in a line. Using a foot stool can help and find sitting in a more supportive upright chair may reduce pelvic and back pain.

Lifting and carrying heavy things

When lifting something from the floor, squat down and put it on your knee. Push up with your hands on your knees.

Vacuuming, sweeping or mopping

If unavoidable, try not to twist your body, lean forward or have your legs far apart.

Watch tips to manage pelvic girdle pain

Strategies to manage low back and pelvic pain during pregnancy

Stretches for low back and pelvic pain during pregnancy


Learn more about physiotherapy during pregnancy

Find out more