Pregnancy related Pelvic Girdle Pain (PPGP). How to help yourself.

July 14, 2014


Felicity Bertin explains what Pregnancy Related Pelvic Girdle Pain is and provides some invaluable tips on how to help you if you suspect you are suffering.

Many women throughout pregnancy experience pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPGP) or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) as it’s commonly known. It affects 1 in 5 women during pregnancy and around 7% will experience symptoms beyond three months post-natal unless treated. “Pelvic girdle pain” or “SPD” simply describes the area of the body the pain is coming from: the pelvis. The reason for the pain will be different for each person.

PPGP is NOT normal
Pelvic Girdle Pain is NOT a normal part of pregnancy, yet so many women see it as part of the course.

What causes PPGP?
The hormonal changes in pregnancy means an increase in the levels of relaxin, a hormone which causes your ligaments to stretch, allowing your pelvis to accommodate your growing baby. With the ligaments becoming increasingly stretchy and your joints more flexible they are more prone to injury. As your posture changes to accommodate your growing baby asymmetry often occurs causing more force to go through one part of the pelvis causing pain.

However…research tells us that relaxin isn’t always to blame.

A systematic review of 4 randomised controlled trials showed only 1 positive correlation between relaxin and PPGP


A systematic review of 10 randomised controlled trials showed a positive association between altered pelvic joint mechanics and / or muscle control in pelvic movement in 8 of the 10 research papers reviewed.

Will PPGP go when my baby is born?
Many health professionals dismiss PPGP symptoms supposing they will resolve once your baby is born. However, relaxin continues to be released throughout breastfeeding and recent studies have shown relaxin levels increase as part of your monthly menstrual cycle meaning birth may not mean the end to your discomfort.

 What can I do to help PPGP?
At Carmenta Life, our Osteopaths run a free assessment clinic for mums-to-be experiencing pelvic girdle pain. Osteopaths are manual therapists and will give you tailored advice, exercise and treatment specific to your needs. But there are some general things you can do to care for your pelvis during pregnancy:

  • Sit down to get dressed and undressed to avoid standing on one leg
  • Wear well fitting, supportive shoes avoiding high heels and flip flops
  • When carrying your baby, keep them close to you. Avoid placing them on one hip which may result in straining your low back and disrupting your pelvic symmetry
  • Carry things like shopping bags and baby car seats in front of you and close, rather than on one side of your body
  • If using a baby carrier or sling ensure your back is straight and your shoulders back
  • When pushing a pram or buggy, the force should come from your entire body and not just your arms. Keep your back straight, shoulders back and walk close to the buggy/pram
  • The best technique for lifting your baby is to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and keeping your back flat, bend forward at the hips and hug them close to you. Straighten up from the hips and extend your knees
  • If you enjoy swimming, avoid breaststroke. Exercises in water may be beneficial and we will be happy to offer advice

The British Medical Association recognises Osteopathy as an established healthcare system based on clinical diagnosis and manual treatment. The title “Osteopath” is legally protected by law (The Osteopaths Act of 1993) and osteopaths need to complete a 4/5 year degree with ongoing CPD and registration by The General Osteopathic Council

If you’re suffering with pelvic girdle pain, our experienced and skilled osteopaths run a FREE assessment clinic. Book online at:


Aldabe D, Ribeiro DC, Milosavljevic S, Bussey MD. Pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain and its relationship with relaxin levels during pregnancy: a systematic review. Eur  Spine J.  2012;21:1769 1776

Aldabe D, Milosavljevic S, Bussey MD. Is pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain  associated with altered kinematic, kinetic and motor control of the pelvis? A systematic review.Eur Spine J.2012;21:1777 1787

 Felicity Bertin & Julie-ann Gillitt are registered Structural, Cranial and Paediatric Osteopaths based at Carmenta Life, Berkhamsted.

They can be contacted at

t: 07970 807625

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