Common Causes of Discomfort

General discomfort is common even during the most healthy pregnancy.  The obvious cause of discomfort is the increasing weight load to the front of the body.  Combined with gravity and the softening of ligaments and other connective tissue by the hormone relaxin, this extra weight causes much strain to muscles and joints of the hips, legs and feet.  It can also cause strain to the lower back and pelvic joints.  Other postural imbalances and injuries that occurred prior to pregnancy can be exacerbated, as well.

In addition, as the uterus grows, its eight supporting ligaments are stretched. This stretching often creates characteristic patterns of referred pain to the groin, sacrum, buttock and posterior thigh.

Stretching of the broad uterine ligaments commonly refers pain to the lower back and buttock, sometimes causing sciatica-like pain.

Stretching of the round uterine ligaments can create a diagonal pain which starts at the top of the uterus and continues down to the groin. It is usually one-sided, depending on fetal position, and is most common in the second and third trimester.

Stretching of the sacrouterine ligaments often causes an achy sensation just lateral to or beneath the sacrum.  This is most common during the last trimester.

Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of therapeutic massage is the awareness it can bring to one’s body.  Massage helps us to understand which parts of our body are holding stress and tension.  With this knowledge, we are able to modify our daily activities and the causative factors of our discomfort.

Although the beautiful state of pregnancy itself cannot be “modified,” bringing awareness to possible causes of discomfort can help us make small changes, for example, in posture or sleeping positions, that can greatly improve the way our bodies function and feel.

Note:  The information presented here is in no way intended to replace medical care.  The causes of discomfort described above are the result of normal physical changes that occur to the body during a healthy pregnancy.  Any type of severe or persistent pain, such as low back, pelvic or abdominal pain, cramping, severe mid-back pain unaffected by positional change or severe headaches should discussed immediately with your healthcare provider.