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Have you been experiencing tailbone pain during your pregnancy?
Tailbone or coccyx pain can happen at any time throughout the three trimesters. Pain in the tailbone is really uncomfortable, especially alongside being pregnant, feeling that familiar twinge every time you stand up or lean back can really put a damper on your day!
Luckily, pain in the tailbone can be eased in a variety of ways, using things you probably already have at home, so read on to find out which one is going to work for you.
Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy
The medical term for tailbone or coccyx pain is 'coccydynia', and although not the most common pregnancy ailment, it certainly isn't unusual. Back pain during pregnancy is pretty normal, carrying a baby puts a lot of pressure on your bones, especially those connected through your neck, head, and trunk; they are helping to hold a growing baby after all!
But what is your tailbone? Well, if you had a tail, this is where it would go, right at the base of your spine. Your tailbone, or coccyx, is made up of between three and five bones all connected by cartilage and joints. Your tailbone helps you to balance, and connects your pelvic floor muscles too, so during pregnancy it has a pretty important job as these muscles support your uterus, which is where your baby is! But this also means that by the time you reach the third trimester, that's an almost birthweight baby pushing down on all of those nerves and joints, ouch!
Symptoms of tailbone pain vary but if you are experiencing any of the following, then it is most likely a bruised tailbone causing the problems:
A jolting or dull pain at the top of your bottom or the base of your spine
Pain that gradually increases at the base of your spine.
A pain that changes intensity based on your posture or position.
Experiencing pain when getting up from being seated or laying down.
Pain when walking or twisting around.
Pain that eases after certain exercises or other physical activity.
Increased pain if suffering from constipation.
Tailbone Pain And Labor
As if giving birth wasn't enough of an undertaking as it is, what with bringing new life into the world, coccyx pain can actually increase while you are in labor. Try following these steps to help ease that tailbone pain:
In early labor, let gravity help you out! Walking, using your birthing ball, leaning, or swaying from side to side; anything upright will help to ease the pressure on your lower back.
Pelvic tilts and gentle yoga positions.
Avoid laying on your back, the most 'traditional' of birth positions is actually the most unnatural as you are literally working against gravity. Of course, sometimes it can't be helped but if you do need to lay down, laying on your side is a good option.
Sitting backward on a chair or the toilet seat can be more comfortable if you want to sit down, so your stomach is facing where you would usually lean, lean forwards instead. Kneeling in this position with something to support you in front can also help ease the pressure on your tailbone. If you are giving birth in a hospital, the raised back of the hospital bed is perfect to lean on while kneeling on the bed.
There is some good news! For most people, tailbone pain will start to disappear soon after giving birth. In some cases, due to the ligaments surrounding the coccyx becoming loosened during pregnancy, followed by the delivery, there can be complications. There are many medical and holistic treatment options that your doctor can discuss with you, and if you don't feel that your tailbone pain is being taken seriously, don't hesitate to seek a second opinion.
What Causes Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy
Whilst you are pregnant all the ligaments of your pelvic area begin to relax in preparation for giving birth, thanks to an amazing pregnancy hormone called 'relaxin'. This means that sometimes your tailbone will shift, and this is what causes that pain. As your growing baby starts to take up more and more space, they may also be creating pressure right up against your lower back, which can also cause discomfort.
Tailbone pain is most common towards the end of your pregnancy, but it can also occur as early as the first trimester or anytime in between. Some things that can impact your chances of tailbone pain are whether you've been pregnant before, body shape and size, and pelvis type.
Your tailbone is right behind and just below your uterus, and it is also the attachment point for a lot of your tendons and ligaments, meaning this area of your pelvis is pretty much a hotbed for nerve pain. Luckily there are some things you can do to help with tailbone pain in pregnancy.
How To Ease Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy
There are some ways that you can ease the pain in your tailbone, so check out these suggestions! If you have constant or frequent pain, be sure to speak to your doctor. Pregnancy safe painkillers are also an option, check with your medical practitioner if you are unsure which ones you can take.
Although it might be the last thing you feel like doing, exercise can help with tailbone pain and pregnancy-related aches and pains.
A gentle yoga session can be a great way to relax during pregnancy. The cat-cow pose (Chakravakasana) is a great pose to try as it can help with lower back pain, whilst also focusing on your pelvic floor and associated muscles. Position yourself on all fours on the yoga mat, with your hands and knees directly underneath your shoulders and hips. Then inhale whilst tilting your pelvis forward and arching your spine upwards like a cat.
Pelvic tilts are similar to the cat-cow pose, while on your hands and knees curl your back up and then gently resume your all-fours position, doing these stretches can really loosen up tight hip and lower back ligaments.
If you feel able to, a short or leisurely walk can be helpful, even just enough that it stretches your legs for a few minutes. Rest is super important too, but if you've been sitting or laying down for a while, try some light activity for a bit to get the blood flowing.
If you are able to, it might be worth visiting a specialist for a treatment for your tailbone. A physical therapist will be able to advise the best movements and exercises you can do. A massage will help your tailbone and also help you to feel rested and relaxed, which is also important for pregnant people!
Cold and warmth are great for helping with muscular aches. An ice pack on your lower back or a heating pad can work wonders for relieving the discomfort. You can even get wearable hot water bottles now and a stick-on heating pad is perfect for wearing around the home if you need to be up and about.
Constipation can be yet another unwelcome side effect of pregnancy. Vitamins containing iron can slow your system down, plus pregnancy hormones also increase your chance of becoming constipated too. The pelvic region is all quite crammed in there, meaning constipation can add to the discomfort in your tailbone! Try to drink lots of water and eat fiber-rich foods; prunes can be a last resort but they are thought to be very effective!
Pillows are going to be your best friend through pregnancy, using a body pillow at night is perfect for taking the pressure off aching muscles. A regular pillow works too. When laying down on your side, place a pillow between your legs to stop your upper leg from pulling your hips into misalignment.
You may have seen those round donut-shaped pillows with the hole in the middle, these can be helpful if you need to sit down. For optimum tailbone relief, a wedge-shaped pillow with a cut-out shape for your tailbone area is even better.
If you work at a desk, consider switching out your regular chair for an exercise ball, gently rocking on the ball with both feet flat on the ground can work wonders to keep the aches at bay.
When you are sitting, try not to slouch, don't allow your knees to be lower than your hips, keep your core engaged and your neck straight. This sounds like a lot to remember but it will soon become second nature. Also, remember to keep both feet flat as asymmetric movements can make tailbone pain worse. So this means, no crossing your legs, and when you get out of bed, try to swing your legs around and place your feet on the floor at the same time before standing up.
You should always speak to your midwife or doctor if you are experiencing any kind of pain during your pregnancy, keep them up to date at your appointments. However, if your tailbone pain is interfering with your day-to-day life and causing you major pain every day, even if it's on and off, make sure to tell your doctor as soon as you can.
Freelance writer Amy lives in Hampshire with her 3 year old daughter, who is a super energetic, chatty child, leading to Amy’s interest in all matters to do with infant and child sleeping patterns and mindfulness for adults and children. Amy’s degree was in fashion design and she loves filling their beautiful home full of interesting textiles, tiles, art, ceramics, and houseplants or, alternatively, pining over them on Instagram. When they aren’t out exploring in the fresh air they can be found cosying up at home, painting, knitting, and dancing!