Pelvic Girdle Pain; focusing on what you can do, not on what you can’t!

One of my biggest fears before getting pregnant was that suddenly I wouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to do the things that made me happy. I imagined the ‘Pregnancy Police’ would hit me with a list of rules and I’d be confined to a boring, sedentary life. From food, to alcohol, to sleep position, to exercise, I dreaded being told what not to do. ‘I’ll show them’, I thought, and made staying as physically active as possible my priority.

Climbing in my first trimester


Staying active: The first and second trimesters

I found out I was pregnant in early September. During the first trimester, I managed to go climbing, play squash, run a 6 mile fell race, do a little bit of mountain biking and take part in my local Park Run. My biggest aim was to be able to go on a group skiing holiday when I was 19 weeks; I concentrated on building up leg and core strength by doing pregnancy-specific online workouts twice a week so I’d be ready for the slopes. Plenty of squats! And yes, I skied. (I’m competent, conditions were perfect, the slopes were quiet). It was honestly one of the best weeks of my life, even if I couldn’t enjoy the apres-ski beers.

Skiing at 19 weeks pregnant


PGP: what had I done to deserve this?

After Christmas, I wanted to carry on with the same routine. On a particularly grim January day, when I was about 22 weeks pregnant, I headed out for a run with my dog. It was only a 2-3 mile run, but the weather turned nasty and we were soaked (the kind of rain where even your pants are wet through). After peeling off my running gear, and warming my poor cold bones in the shower, I noticed a sharp shooting pain in my groin and inner thighs. I’d had running injuries before (including rolled ankles, sore knees from patellar mal-tracking, and lower back pain from not using my core properly) but this was a weird one. I assumed I’d just ‘over stretched’ in a workout the previous week and decided to rest.

The next day though, I fired up Doctor Google. Oh boy. Forums are sometimes not your friend. Trying to work out if it was SPD/PVG, whether I’d ever run again, or whether I’d be on crutches within a matter of weeks… it was all quite overwhelming. The pity party for one was in full swing as I sat on my sofa with a hot water bottle between my thighs, crying. The pregnancy police hadn’t stopped me with their rules, but I felt like my body had ‘let me down’. It’s always really hard not to compare yourself to other people, but I found myself with a particularly brutal inner monologue; ‘Some people run until they’re 8 months pregnant, it’s not fair, I’ve been really active, what have I done to deserve this?’


Finding solutions: two feet on the ground

Luckily, I was directed to the ‘Pain in The Bump‘ website and after chatting to them online, I realised it was nothing I’d ‘done wrong’, it was literally just the shape of my bones. (Damn you, hip dysplasia at birth – could I blame my mother?!) Being able to read well researched information about my pelvic girdle pain, the fact it wouldn’t last forever AND find actual practical solutions was a godsend. Through the website, I learnt that the problems would occur if my weight was unevenly on one foot, so I began to find exercises I could do with two feet firmly on the ground. Pilates is a godsend for specific exercises for pregnancy-related PGP, and I even found some more ‘cardio’ focused workouts on YouTube that I could adapt (there was still no escaping those squats!)

Climbing, running and big hikes were out, but yoga, swimming and spin classes were on. (Not everyone finds cycling/spinning comfortable, but for me it was easier than walking!) My biggest challenge was learning to slow down.

Hiking in the Lake District at 31 weeks – the slowest 4 miles ever!


Be proud of what your body can do!

Physically, what helped was hot baths, sleeping with a pregnancy pillow between my legs, a warm wheat bag in the evenings, and making sure I rested when I could. I also found sitting on a ball at work would take the strain off my pelvis.

Mentally, what helped, was realising what I could still do, and finding solutions. When I went to yoga classes, I would tell the teacher I had pelvic girdle pain, and they adapted some of the exercises for me. When swimming, I soon found that breast stroke was painful, so I bought a float for between my thighs or did front crawl. (I’m hoping I’m going to end up with hench baby-lifting arms). At spin class, I turned the dial down a bit and didn’t ‘sprint’ at quite the same ferocity as before. When walking, I’d slow the pace down a bit, or deploy my hiking poles for longer walks and I’d never carry things on one arm, so investing in a good rucksack was key.

Me wild-swimming at 39 weeks (it was a little chilly).


For anyone suffering with PGP, know that there are solutions that can help lessen the pain. Most importantly, know that it’s not your fault, that you may still be able to enjoy some exercise and that (in most cases) it’ll disappear after the birth. Thanks to Pain In The Bump, I got through the toughest part of my pregnancy mentally and I am incredibly proud of everything that my body has achieved over the last 9 months. I GREW A HUMAN!

After a morning swim at 37 weeks.


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Please Note:
Although the posts on this site are written by fully qualified Physiotherapists, the advice is of a generalist nature and could not take into account the particular physical or medical condition of individual audience members. The information given is meant to be practical and informative but is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The information available is not meant to replace any relationship that exists between an audience member and their GP, hospital specialist or other healthcare professional. If you are after individual advice or you are concerned about any of your symptoms you must consult your own therapist or healthcare provider.