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In this blog we're going to look at what can cause extra pain in your pelvis or back at night-time, and a couple of things to help alleviate and prevent it.
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) and lower back pain during pregnancy are often caused by a misalignment of joints and extra strain on ligaments as they loosen up due to the release of the hormone relaxin. When your joints are in a more vulnerable position, particularly as you get later through your pregnancy, your muscles have an even more important job in helping to stabilise your spine and your pelvis. In the case of PGP, many women find it is worse at night. This can often be due to the fact that your buttock muscles, which are the main stabilisers for your pelvis, are not very active at night-time as they are in a resting position. You have overdone it during the day without enough support around the pelvis. Also, depending on how you are sleeping, the joints may be in a more vulnerable position.
The main thing to be mindful of, particularly for people suffering with PGP or Symphysis Pubis dysfunction (SPD), is to try and keep your knees in line with your hips. When your knees touch or dip together in the middle, that causes a valgus (outward angulation) stress on your knees. This valgus position of your knee also puts your buttock muscles in their least active state meaning they are then not supporting the joints of your pelvis. The weight of your body, your bump and gravity are then having a bigger impact on your joints because they are not being buffered by your buttock muscle strength. So, popping a pillow between your knees when you are lying on your side will help to take you out of that valgus position and keep your knees in line with the middle of your hip, which will allow your buttock muscle to be more active in your resting position. During the day, if you are out shopping or walking for more than 20 minutes, where a recommended SIJ support belt to limit the build up of strain, which will then present itself at night when you are trying to rest.
The other thing you can do to help alleviate extra pain at night is to change positions a lot. The advice is to only lay on your left side during the later stages of pregnancy as research shows this helps to increase blood flow to your uterus, which can be compromised by laying on your back or right side. The research also shows laying on your front increases blood flow to your uterus more than the left side. However, before Belloost there has not been a safe way to do this, and that’s why the general advice is to lay on your left side. During the earlier stages of pregnancy being on your right side or your back for short periods in most cases won’t cause harm to your baby, but be mindful of changing positions regularly. If you own a Belloost Home Pregnancy Pillow, utilising that front lying position will help take the pressure off those areas, particularly on the left side of you which is taking the majority of the brunt of stress in that lying position.
Other things you can try are using ice packs to relieve the inflammation around sore joints such as your pubic bone or lower back, and also doing a few stretches to help get your muscles and joints in a more balanced state before you go and lay down for the night. A couple of great ones are doing a few rounds of Child’s Pose and Cat-Cow and some very gentle stretching of your buttocks and abductor muscles to reset the tension. Wearing a SIJ support belt when you are on your feel for long periods will also help limit inflammation. Be sure not to wear then all day as this will lead to increased weakness in your glutes.