One of the worst parts of any normal pregnancy is the pelvic pains. Those down there twinges, stabs and cramps that make you feel as if you've been clobbered by a 2x4 in between the legs. For some they aren't that big of a deal, but for plenty of women, they are one of the most hard to deal with pains that pregnancy can put you through.
For some, these pains feel like deep bruises inside or around the vagina. For others it's like a constant ache in the muscles all around your pelvic area. Some are unfortunate enough to feel both kinds of pain and more. Sometimes it's constant and never seems to go away, for others it comes and goes. They are most often present in the early second trimester and after week 30 in the third trimester. These pains can make it hard to walk, get out of bed or take care of daily activities.
What causes them?
Sadly, many doctors these days are not compassionate enough take the time to explain these pelvic pains to their pregnant patients. They are too busy with everything they do that the most common answer to the complaint of vaginal or pelvic pains is "don't worry, it's normal". And while it's reassuring that you're not alone, being brushed off is the last thing you want or need at this time.
So what causes these pains in the crotch?
There are several potential causes actually, and most of them depend on what stage of your pregnancy you're in.
In the first trimester, pelvic aching is usually a sign of round ligaments stretching and pulling around the uterus. These ligaments stretch to help make room for your growing baby, and even though the pains are usually not so bad in the first trimester, they can still be a bit alarming for the first time mommy.
Take note though, that these round ligament pains should not feel like period pains or cramping. Those are warning signs of a miscarriage and you should call your doctor if you have menstrual like cramping at this stage.
During the middle tri of your pregnancy, you'll noticed more pronounced round ligament stretching, which can cause much discomfort. This can be enhanced if you are carrying your baby low or you have previously had children already.
In the third trimester your body is doing the best tricks it ever will; continuing to stretch your uterus more tan 500 times it's original size, spreading your pelvic bones to make room for baby to come out and working on softening up that birth canal. During these amazing processes, some astonishing pains can complicate your daily life.
If you thought the pains in the first and second trimester were bad, watch out! For many women, the pains can get so bad it becomes difficult to remain mobile or stationary for any designated amount of time. You sit and your uncomfortable, you stand and your in pain. Laying down and getting back up rival each other and sometimes it might feel like your hips have fallen out of place.
During the mid stage of the third trimester, you might also notice the tell-tale signs of cervical dilation - menstrual like cramping. Sometimes this cramping is just a part of the ligament stretching, but it's more often caused by your cervix dilating and getting ready. This pain can feel like a shock, stab or tingle. Most won't feel it at all until labor is a week or so away, though others will feel the whole experience.
The next of the list of pains in the crotch is the when the baby drops and begins to engage in your pelvis. The feeling from this varies from slight to intense pressure or 'down there' pains that feel like old bruises. Thankfully, this pressure usually doesn't hurt on it's own, but because your baby has his or her big head stationed in your pelvis, it can make the other pains feel worse and make it even harder to walk (what? you didn't think it could've gotten worse, did ya?).
What you can do about those 'pains in the crotch'
There are no definite remedies, only ways of easing the pain long enough to give you a few moments of peace while your body continues to get ready for the up coming 'miracle of life' process.
TAKE A HOT BATH
Getting in a hot bath can help your muscles relax and with some lavender added to your bath, you'll feel nice and relaxed for a while. Just be careful not to make the water too hot when you are in the later stages of pregnancy.
Getting in a nice big body of water will give you the chance to feel weightless for a little while and is a great way to relieve some of the pains caused by the gravity of your growing belly. It's also great exercise and very refreshing if your pregnant in warmer weather.
LEFT SIDE LAYING
The reason this one helps, is because laying on your left side allows for better circulation around your body. You could consider it a physical feng shui thing. Once your circulation is better able to do it's job, your body receives blood where it needs it and your muscles, tissues and organs begin to relax. This gives you the chance to relax too, which will help bring on that relief you've been aching for.
IF YOU'RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT, RAISE YOUR KNEES...
Okay... Moving away from that little youthful display.. Many midwives have long since suggested that their gestational clients sit down and bring their knees up around them. It may not be easy at first if you're in the later stages of your pregnancy, but if you do it consistently you will be able to get those knees up around you and find an amazing amount of relief.
Trying to succeed at this maneuver might seem like the exact opposite thing you want to do when your muscles are aching, but this exercise is just what you need. It works by slowing stretching out all the muscles in your pelvic and lower abdominal regions. The only thing you need to be cautious of, is trying to do too much too quickly. Bring your knees up around you slowly and only as far as you can go without straining. Try just doing one leg at a time if you can't get both up there next to you.
Remember, this maneuver is all about stretching out those clenching muscles. It is not about pulling those muscles out of proportion or trying to be a contortionist. Take it easy when you do this stretch and don't push yourself too hard. If you do it for short periods every day and then allow your body to relax afterward, you'll find your able to hold it for longer and bring your legs up higher. This will help your muscles hurt less and as a bonus, it will help prepare your body for labor down the road.
MOVE STOP MOVE
No, I'm not suggesting you should get up and dance the boogie woogie. I am suggesting that you get yourself into an anti-stagnation routine. Make sure that you don't sit to long, stand to long or move around for to long. For the best results it's best to go by 30 to 45 minute intervals. Sit for 30 minutes, walk around or do a standing activity for 30 minutes, then sit back down for 30 minutes. You can adjust times as need, and it's not really important that every interval is the same amount. Just try to make sure that your not stagnating in one position or doing too much for too long. By getting into the route of "move stop move", you'll take away many of your muscles complaining and avoid some of that pelvic pain.
Any time is a good time to get started with pregnancy yoga. It can help you through your whole pregnancy, or just help you get through whatever is left in your babies gestation. Yoga is a benefit to you and your baby, as it strengthens all your bodies functions and systems and brings you into balance. Added bonus: the internet has made it possible for many moms to do pregnancy yoga at home in their own time and pace. Though nothing beats having a live instructor to help you get the most from your prego-yoga experience.
I'm sure you know that being dehydrated is risky business even without being pregnant, but did you know that being dehydrated can also make your muscles more sensitive to pain? If you didn't already know this, you should add it to your knowledge base and make sure you stay extra hydrated. Reverse osmosis water will be your best friend in the fight against hydration and pelvic muscle pain. Organic fruit and vegetable juices are also very beneficial.
CALCIUM AND MAGNESIUM
Both of these vitamins are vital to your regular daily help, and they should be a staple in any pregnancy. Aside from having a diet rich in calcium and magnesium, if you find yourself battling cruel crotch pains, you could add a extra calcium and magnesium packed foods to your diet. Or if it's easier, try adding a daily supplement to your diet.
When your pelvic bones and muscles get stretched in pregnancy, it can become uncomfortable to have your legs so close together when you sleep or lay down. On top of that, having your legs so close together can exasperate those pelvic pains, and using a pregnancy or body pillow can help.
Mrs.B on June 27, 2017:
Good article but, as others have noted, it's riddled with poor grammar! In the present tense, people 'lie' whereas objects 'lay', so it should be "left side lying". Also, watch your apostrophes! It's 'baby's gestation', not 'babies gestation'.
Amyz on September 02, 2014:
Thanks for the great article, it was super informative. You've got a few "your"s to change to "you're"s though, was a bit distracting.
firsttime on January 12, 2013:
Wow - thank you for this page. so many things happening to my body that i have heard of, but the stretching aching feeling in my pelvis - no one had mentioned that and i was starting to worry. (I am 10 weeks now.) I am proudly wearing one very relieved smile right now!!!
first time on January 12, 2013:
Liv Carradine from Los Angeles, CA on June 21, 2012:
You're right about doctors not taking enough time to explain the pelvic pains to their patients. Saying it's normal isn't enough info. In my case it turned out to be abnormal and my diagnosis of diastasis pubic symphysis could have been given much sooner if some doctors were better listeners. You provide some great info.
Virginia Kearney from United States on July 16, 2011:
Great advice and information! In my three pregnancies I did aerobics and/or walking all the way through and that helped. However, in pregnancy 2 I actually pulled a muscle/tendon very badly in the last 4 days or so--I thought it was the baby but the doctor told me otherwise when I still had the pain 6 weeks after birth. So sometimes you need to make sure the doctor knows about your pain to make sure there isn't something else going on. Voted up!
Marissa from United States on July 16, 2011:
I had much discomfort in both pregnancies, but I found a pregnancy support belt to relieve some of the pelvic pain and also the back pain. You have other great tips here. Voted up and useful! :)