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A hormone called 'relaxin' (fat chance of that) loosens the pelvic ligaments when you're pregnant to allow the pelvis to open slightly when you give birth.
Unfortunately, these ligaments occasionally loosen too much and too early, so your normally stable pelvis moves. With the increasing weight of your growing baby, the symphysis joint (where your pelvic bones meet) can separate, leaving you with mild to severe pain - or the feeling that your pelvis might actually be falling into little pieces.
Pelvic girdle pain, or SPD, can start at any point but most often in the second trimester. It causes difficulty walking, turning in bed, climbing stairs, getting dressed and getting in and out of a car - so pretty much all normal life activities.
You can feel it in your pubic area, groin, the inside of your thighs, hips and (literally a pain in the arse) one or both buttocks. Some women describe a clicking feeling or sound.
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It's important you get advice from an obstetric physiotherapist - and your GP will be able to advise on which painkillers you can safely take while pregnant. You can try wearing a support and sleeping with a pillow in between your knees to keep your pelvis in line.
Unlike some other pregnancy complications, it doesn't necessarily get better as soon as you've given birth.
Labour can be a daunting prospect - make sure all the staff present know you have pelvic pain and let them see how far you can open your legs painlessly beforehand, especially if you're having an epidural. This will avoid any damage when your knees are apart for examinations or for delivery, or if you need to be in stirrups for a ventouse or forceps delivery.
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