I love training, anything to do with movement and fitness, so it was natural that I continued training and practicing yoga through my pregnancy. From the outside, my body seemed to have ‘bounced back’ pretty quickly after the birth of my daughter, however on the inside it was a different story, something that took me longer to understand.
As a yoga instructor and trainer, being ‘fit and healthy’ is pretty much part of my job description. I actually stopped teaching quite early on in my pregnancy to concentrate on the pregnancy. My main exercise was swimming. Swimming was the thing I did consistently throughout my pregnancy even into my third trimester, even doing a 5km swimathon being 5 months pregnant. I did do yoga, but after a while I preferred the freedom and lightness swimming gave me as I started to suffer from pretty bad pelvic girdle pain. A note about swimming, be careful with hip opening strokes like breaststroke, as for me as it exacerbated by pelvic pain so I stuck to to crawl, which was fine.
What is pelvic girdle pain?
Pelvic girdle pain or SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) is pretty common affecting 1 in 5 pregnant women. This is the pain in the pelvic area usually affecting the back of the pelvis around the sacroiliac joints or the front at the symphysis pubis joint. Relaxin (The hormone produced during pregnancy to loosen muscles and ligaments for child birth) may affect joints in the pelvis, in addition to this the pressure of an increasing size of the baby can cause instability in the pelvis, which can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
After studying ante/postnatal training, I know that hip opening exercises and movements which cause the hips to be misaligned such as running, standing on one leg, lateral lunges etc could cause a lateral tilt and cause pain.
I got to understand this more postnatally as it took me until now (8 months) for me to have no more pain no matter how mild in my pelvis. Everybody is different, but for me I think I unknowingly did a lot of moments even at a low impact levels which slowed my recovery process down. I remember walking and walking in pain with a girdle belt on while in my third trimester because I was told it would help with baby positioning and later with bringing on labour. While there may be truth in it, I didn’t listen to my body as well as I should.
Now I know better, I can do better
What I've learnt
Even if you are super fit and used to training, pay close attention to movements you’re doing which cause instability in the hips such as wide lateral lunges, high impact running etc. reducing the range of movement to some exercises is a good start especially when in your third trimester or postnatal or adapt them if you’re in discomfort.
Take your time to recover after childbirth. You’ve just performed no less than a small miracle, give yourself a break
If you do get any pain in your pelvis area go straight to your midwife.
Adapt. If you do find you have discomfort in your pelvis doing certain exercises, even if you love it, maybe try something else, which doesn't worsen This may sound obvious, but I know sometimes pain and discomfort doesn't stop you from training or practising how you like.