Q: During this pregnancy I’ve been experiencing pain on one side of my lower back, between the hip and spine. It makes walking quite painful. What’s causing it and what can I do about it?
A: It sounds as if you might have a misalignment of the sacroiliac(SI) joint. This is the place where the “wing” of the pelvis (Ilium) meets the lower spine (sacrum). As your body prepares for birth the hormones progesterone and relaxin loosen the ligaments of the pelvis to allow the baby to pass through. Unfortunately this makes the pelvis more prone to dislocation.
Massage, acupuncture or acupressure and chiropractic techniques can be very useful in relieving the immediate pain and adjusting the alignment of the pelvis. However, once you have found a treatment that allieviates the pain, you need to help prevent recurrence.
The way to compensate for relaxed ligaments is by increasing your muscular strength in the pelvic girdle area: the abdominals, buttocks, and pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening these key muscles will help keep your pelvis and spine in good alignment and prevent further dislocation. Good posture both standing and sitting will also help. Many of the exercises in the Healthy Pregnancy Course target these muscles, and you can refer to our Parents’ Handbook for illustrations. (If you missed the Healthy Pregnancy Classes ask your instructor during the Labour, Birth and Postpartum Classes).
For an assessment of your muscle strength and pelvic alignment you can see a physiotherapist, who can also recommend exercises to improve muscle strength and posture. The physio may also suggest an elastic brace worn around the hips to help support your SI joint.
Jennifer Landels is a Childbearing Society alumnus. After many years of teaching childbirth classes and supporting new families, she now teaches mounted combat and publishes fiction.