Q&A: pelvic pain in pregnancy

Megan writes:

"I'm almost 6 months pregnant and about a month ago I've noticed a lot of pain around my lower back/sacrum.  After some research I found that I'm experiencing "posterior pelvic pain", mostly due to the loosening of tendons (thanks to relaxin, a pregnancy hormone) and the extra pressure of the baby's weight in the pelvic cavity.  I know that this is a common pregnancy ailment but I haven't been able to find much useful information on how to alleviate my discomfort.  Some resources recommended a pelvic belt.  Do those work?  The pain is so bad that I often have a hard time standing or walking, especially after sitting or lying down for long periods of time.

Do you (or your readers) have any advice?"

I've never used a belly belt, but friends have reported that they helped relieve some pressure and pain. I think your most direct route to relief, however is going to be the combination of chiropractic care and Pilates or yoga.

You should find a chiropractor who specializes in pregnant women and is trained to do the Webster Technique (the adjustment that helps relieve hip pain and turn a breech baby head-down). I'd ask your midwife or OB for recommendations. If they don't know of anyone, look up a chiropractor who specializes in children, because there's usually a lot of overlap between chiropractors who specialize in pregnancy and who specialize in children. You'll probably have to go for 2-3 treatments before you feel significant relief, but after that you should be able to maintain with visits every week or so. Chiropractic in pregnancy is very gentle, and the chiropractor won't do any x-rays to assess you.

Taking a prenatal Pilates or yoga class should also help keep your back pain-free. If you can't find a prenatal Pilates class in your area, there are several DVDs you could get. If you're not usually an exerciser and want something to help you stretch but not to tax you too much, get Pilates in Pregnancy. It moves reeaaallllyyy slowly, but if you can stay awake you'll get a nice stretch. If you're already used to Pilates and want more of a workout, try Pilates During Pregnancy with Niece Pecenka. Pregnancy yoga is all about breathing and stretching, and you may find it easier to get into some of the tougher poses because you can stretch so much more easily with the relaxin.

Another suggestion is to try to sit upright as much as possible (facing backward on a chair with a back or on an exercise ball) instead of reclining. This will help put the baby in the best position both for birth and to relieve the pressure on your back. The website spinningbabies.com is full of information about positioning for comfort and easier labor, as well as an explanation of how to figure out which way your baby is turned in the womb.

You could also try acupuncture, which does really well at alleviating nausea and muscle pain, so you may want to give it a shot for this, too. SInce it's noninvasive you don't have much to lose in trying it.

Anyone else? Any specific recommendations for a brand of belly belt? Was there something that relieved your posterior pelvic pain?