Pubic Bone Pain in Pregnancy

In This Article
Table of Contents

Pubic bone pain in pregnancy is fairly common. A condition known as symphysis pubis diastasis (SPD) often causes this pain. Usually, in later pregnancy, the hormone relaxin causes the pelvis, particularly at the pubic bone, to loosen. In general, this is a good thing as it makes birth easier for mom and baby. However, sometimes the separation is exaggerated and can become quite painful for the mother at the end of pregnancy or in the early postpartum period.

symptoms of pubis diastasis
Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee 

Symptoms

When there is too much laxity there can be instability and pain. The most common symptom of SPD is the pubic bone pain. Most of the pain is typically centered upfront in the pubic bone area, above your mons pubis (below pubic hair). For some women, certain movements can be painful. In particular, getting out of bed, getting into the bathtub or car, putting on pants, sitting for long stretches, or performing repetitive tasks are signs that you may be experiencing SPD.

You may also note some swelling in the area of your pubic bone and experience some waddling in the way you walk or notice that your legs don't quite come together. You may notice that you can feel or hear a clicking noise when walking or moving your legs. Your doctor or midwife can help you best understand your symptoms.

Interestingly, the waddle often associated with pregnant women is also often a result of the relaxing and loosening of the pelvic ligaments.

Risk Factors

You may be more likely to experience pubic bone pain if you are carrying multiples, if this is not your first baby, if you have a very large baby, or if you have had SPD in a prior pregnancy.

The good news is that shortly after delivery you should be feeling much better, as the production of relaxin stops. If you do not feel notably better after a few weeks, you may want to ask your practitioner for additional screening. You may need to add additional therapies, like physical therapy, to help build muscle strength in the pubic bone area.

Diagnosis

During pregnancy, because X-rays are not recommended, your practitioner may order an ultrasound. The ultrasound is meant to look at the space between the bones of the pelvis. It is more common, however, to simply begin treatment after making a diagnosis based on your symptoms alone. If you have already had your baby and you are still having pain, an X-ray is the best diagnostic test available.

Treatment

Although SPD is usually relieved once you have your baby, there are some treatments available for when you're still pregnant.

  • Stabilize your pelvis as much as you can via a pregnancy/maternity binder, which can help to relieve back pain as well. You may also try using a rebozo Mexican shawl. Studies recommend that a flexible belt or binder works better than a rigid one. This can also help you prevent further injury from having a less stable pelvis.
  • Ask your doctor or midwife about physical therapy and acupuncture. This may help in the long term. While it may be time-intensive, many say it's worth it. You could also ask for advice on what you could do at home, to decrease your visits to the office.
  • Avoid situations that cause pain. For example, sit down to put pants on, or sit on the side of the tub and swing over both legs together.
  • It is best to avoid standing for long periods of time. If you must stand, wear sensible shoes and try to move around, even if this means you simply shift from foot to foot every so often. You can also use a small stool or box to prop a foot up as you stand.
  • Certain forms of exercise can help. Ask your doctor, midwife, or physical therapist for moves you can do. The buoyancy involved in swimming, for example, can provide pain relief.
  • Occasionally, pain medication is appropriate and your practitioner can help you decide what would help most. However, this should be done under the supervision of your doctor as some analgesics are contraindicated in pregnancy and lactation and some medicines should not be taken later in pregnancy. 

A Word From Verywell

Pubic bone pain during pregnancy can make some of the most basics tasks of life a bit more difficult. Talking to your doctor or midwife can help you figure out what you can do to minimize pain and resume a normal life more quickly.

Most of the time this involves lifestyle adjustments and waiting until the baby is born, but there may also be other forms of help available, including certain exercises, acupuncture, and pelvic support belts.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Health Services. Pelvic pain in pregnancy. Updated August 1, 2019.

  2. Flack NA, Hay-Smith EJ, Stringer MD, Gray AR, Woodley SJ. Adherence, tolerance and effectiveness of two different pelvic support belts as a treatment for pregnancy-related symphyseal pain - a pilot randomized trial. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2015 Feb 15;15:36. doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0468-5.

  3. Pennick V, Liddle SD. Interventions for preventing and treating pelvic and back pain in pregnancyCochrane Database Syst Rev.2013 Aug 1;8:CD001139. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001139.pub3.

  4. Babb M, Koren G, Einarson A. Treating pain during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2010 Jan;56(1):25, 27.

Additional Reading