Pelvic pain in pregnancy

Pregnancy is a new and exciting experience. But how do you know the additional body pains you feel are normal or if they are more than just your usual aches and pains?

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) in pregnancy occurs in about 20% of women and can occur at any stage of pregnancy. It can involve the sacroiliac joint at the back or pubic symphysis pain at the front. It also can occasionally present as lower back pain, referred leg pain or lower abdominal pain. This must be a new onset pain, not a recurrence of a pre-existing lower back or pelvic pain.

However, on a more positive note, 90% of women fully recover from PGP within 3-12 months after birth!

Causes of PGP

PGP usually starts around the 18th week and peaks between 24-26 weeks, however, it can start earlier or later. The exact cause is unknown; however, it’s thought to be due to the changes in hormone levels plus biomechanical factors such as a decreased ability to transfer load through the pelvis, altered posture, altered centre of gravity, changes in pelvic support (muscular force) and changes in everyday activity.


Without treatment the pain often continues to get worse as the pregnancy continues. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and keep you at a level where you are active and exercising, without increasing the pain. It is more likely to become chronic if there are more than 3 joints involved however if the pain is isolated there is a 90% chance of a full recovery 2 months post natal.

Risk factors for developing PGP

Just because you had PGP in your first pregnancy, doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have it in your second or third pregnancies!



The majority of physiotherapy treatment for PRPGP is related to long term symptoms management through:

Post natal support considerations

It’s important to ensure you look after your body after giving birth, there is vastly different advice depending on if you have the birth vaginally or caesarean. However, the following factors should be addressed by your physiotherapist:

Pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain can be successfully treated with a combination of physiotherapy, lifestyle adaptions and strengthening exercises. If you are suffering from PRPGP you should get it assessed as early as possible, if it’s left untreated it can continue to get progressively worse.