Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy: Causes, Relief, and Tips

11 Mar 2024, by

Dr. Lusine Badalian

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Pregnancy, a journey filled with wonder and changes, also brings its fair share of aches and pains. Among these, tailbone pain during pregnancy, or coccydynia, may not be as widely discussed as morning sickness or swollen feet, but it's a discomfort many expectant mothers face. This unique pain at the base of the spine can turn sitting, standing, and even walking into daunting tasks. But why does this pain occur, and more importantly, what can you do about it? According to a study from PubMed, an astonishing 50–80% of women report experiencing back pain during pregnancy alone, highlighting how common this issue is. This article dives into the causes, prevention, and relief strategies for managing tailbone pain during pregnancy, aiming to provide you with practical tips and insights to navigate this challenge.

tailbone pain during pregnancy

Understanding Tailbone Pain in Pregnancy

What is Tailbone Pain?

Tailbone pain, medically known as coccydynia, strikes at the very base of your spine, right above the buttocks. This area, the coccyx, may be small, but it plays a crucial role in supporting your body when you sit and acting as an anchor for muscles in the pelvic region. During pregnancy, as your body undergoes significant changes, the coccyx can become a source of sharp or aching pain that radiates across the lower back and hips.

Causes of Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy

Tailbone pain during pregnancy can stem from various factors, each contributing to discomfort in unique ways. Understanding these causes is the first step toward finding relief:

  • Hormonal Adjustments: Pregnancy hormones, especially relaxin, help your body prepare for childbirth by loosening ligaments and joints in the pelvis. While necessary, this process can lead to instability and pain in the coccyx area.
  • Physical Changes: As your baby grows, the added weight and altered center of gravity put extra pressure on the lower back and tailbone, intensifying the pain.
  • Postural Shifts: With the progression of pregnancy, many women unconsciously adjust their posture to compensate for the extra weight, often leading to strained muscles and discomfort around the coccyx.

 

When does tailbone pain start in pregnancy? It varies; some women experience it early on, while for others, it emerges in the later stages, particularly during the second and third trimesters. Regardless of when it starts, understanding how to relieve tailbone pain during pregnancy can make a significant difference in your daily comfort.

Identifying the Symptoms of Tailbone Pain

Recognizing the symptoms of tailbone pain during pregnancy, or coccydynia, is crucial for finding relief and managing discomfort. Common indicators include:

  • Localized Discomfort: A sharp or dull pain at the base of your spine that becomes noticeable when sitting or transitioning from sitting to standing is a primary symptom.
  • Increased Pain When Sitting: Sitting on hard surfaces or for prolonged periods can exacerbate the pain, highlighting the need for supportive seating arrangements.
  • Tenderness in the Tailbone Area: You may notice tenderness or increased sensitivity when applying pressure to the coccyx area, indicating inflammation or irritation.

 

Experiencing these symptoms can be concerning, but it's important to remember that they are common during pregnancy. If you're unsure whether what you're feeling is related to tailbone pain or another condition, an online tool like Symptom Checker for Women offers a helpful starting point for identifying potential issues. While this tool can provide insights, it's not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a healthcare professional to discuss your symptoms and the best course of action.

Factors Worsening Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy

Certain activities and conditions can intensify tailbone pain during pregnancy. Being aware of these can help you avoid or modify behaviors to reduce discomfort:

  • Prolonged Sitting: Extended periods of sitting put continuous pressure on the coccyx, worsening pain.
  • Poor Posture: Slouching or leaning backward can strain the coccyx and surrounding muscles, increasing discomfort.
  • Physical Activity: While exercise is beneficial during pregnancy, activities that involve bending or lifting can aggravate tailbone pain.
  • Weight Gain: Excessive weight gain during pregnancy adds to the pressure on your coccyx, especially in the third trimester.
  • Constipation: The strain of bowel movements can cause discomfort and exacerbate existing tailbone pain.

 

By identifying and adjusting these factors, you can take proactive steps to minimize the impact of coccydynia on your daily life.

Preventive Measures

Preventing tailbone pain during pregnancy might not always be possible, but there are strategies to reduce its frequency and severity:

  • Mind Your Posture: Sitting with a straight back and distributing your weight evenly can lessen the pressure on your coccyx. Consider using a standing desk or taking frequent breaks to stand and stretch.
  • Choose the Right Seat: Opt for chairs with good back support or use a specially designed pregnancy pillow to relieve pressure on the tailbone.
  • Stay Active: Regular, gentle exercise can strengthen the muscles around the coccyx, providing better support and reducing pain. Swimming and prenatal yoga are excellent options.
  • Watch Your Weight: Maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight gain can reduce the stress on your coccyx and lower back.
  • Modify Activities: Avoid activities that strain your lower back and coccyx. When lifting, bend at the knees and keep the load close to your body.

 

Implementing these preventive measures can help manage and possibly reduce the likelihood of experiencing severe tailbone pain during your pregnancy. In the following sections, we'll delve into specific treatment strategies and exercises to offer further relief, ensuring you have the tools to manage this common yet often overlooked pregnancy symptom.

Treatment and Management Strategies

Finding relief from tailbone pain during pregnancy involves a combination of at-home remedies, exercises, and professional treatments. These strategies aim to alleviate discomfort and improve your overall quality of life during this special time.

Home Remedies

Simple changes and remedies can make a significant difference in managing coccydynia:

  • Positioning and Support: Lying down on your side can help take the pressure off your tailbone. When sitting, use a cushion or a special pregnancy pillow designed to relieve tailbone pressure.
  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Alternating between applying ice packs and heat pads on the tailbone area can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Comfortable Footwear: Wearing flat, supportive shoes can minimize strain on your lower back and coccyx, especially if you're standing for extended periods.

Exercises and Stretches

Gentle exercises and stretches can strengthen the pelvic area and alleviate tailbone pain:

  • Pelvic Tilts: This simple exercise can strengthen your pelvic floor and relieve pressure on the tailbone.
  • Kegel Exercises: Regularly performing Kegels strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, which can provide better support for your coccyx.
  • Stretching: Gentle stretching, especially yoga poses like Child's Pose or the Pigeon Pose, can release tension in the pelvic area and lower back.

 

Remember, before starting any new exercise regimen during pregnancy, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure it's safe for you and your baby.

Professional Treatments

If home remedies and exercises aren't providing sufficient relief, it may be time to seek professional help:

  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor therapy can offer targeted exercises and treatments to alleviate tailbone pain.
  • Consultation: In some cases, your healthcare provider may suggest other interventions or refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.

Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy: When to Seek Help

While tailbone pain during pregnancy is common, it's crucial to know when to seek professional advice. If you experience any of the following, contact your healthcare provider:

  • Persistent or Worsening Pain: If the pain doesn't improve with home remedies or interferes with your daily activities, a professional assessment is necessary.
  • Severe Discomfort: Extreme tailbone pain during pregnancy may require more targeted treatments, which a healthcare provider can advise on.
  • Additional Symptoms: If tailbone pain is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in the legs, it's essential to get a medical evaluation.

 

Your healthcare provider can offer guidance, support, and treatment options tailored to your specific needs. Tailbone pain during pregnancy, though challenging, can be managed effectively with the right approach. Always remember, the advice and strategies shared here are meant to guide you; however, they should not replace professional medical advice. For a comprehensive understanding of your symptoms, consider using the Symptom Checker for Women as a preliminary step, but follow up with a healthcare professional for personalized care and treatment.

Conclusion

Navigating through pregnancy comes with its unique challenges, and tailbone pain is one that can significantly impact your daily life. However, with the right information and strategies, managing and alleviating this discomfort is entirely possible. Here are the key takeaways to remember:

  • Tailbone pain during pregnancy, known as coccydynia, can arise from hormonal changes, physical shifts, and increased pressure on the coccyx.
  • Identifying the symptoms early on and taking proactive steps can help manage the discomfort effectively.
  • Simple home remedies, such as using supportive pillows and applying heat or cold, can offer significant relief.
  • Engaging in gentle exercises and stretches strengthens the pelvic area and can alleviate pain.
  • Professional treatments, including physical therapy, may be necessary for persistent or severe cases.
  • Knowing when to seek help from a healthcare provider is crucial for managing extreme discomfort and related symptoms.

 

By keeping these points in mind and consulting with healthcare professionals when necessary, you can reduce the impact of tailbone pain on your pregnancy and focus on the joy of expecting your new arrival.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does tailbone pain start in pregnancy?

Tailbone pain can begin at any stage of pregnancy but is more common and pronounced during the second and third trimesters due to the increased pressure from the growing uterus and hormonal changes.

How to relieve tailbone pain during pregnancy?

Relieving tailbone pain involves a combination of home remedies, such as using supportive seating and applying heat or cold therapy, along with gentle exercises and professional treatments if necessary.

Extreme tailbone pain during pregnancy: what should I do?

If you're experiencing extreme tailbone pain, consult with your healthcare provider. They may recommend physical therapy, specific exercises, or other interventions to manage the pain effectively.

How long does tailbone pain last during pregnancy?

The duration of tailbone pain varies; for some, it may last only during the later stages of pregnancy, while others might experience it until delivery. Postpartum recovery varies as well, with many women seeing an improvement shortly after giving birth.

What causes tailbone pain during pregnancy?

Tailbone pain during pregnancy is caused by a combination of factors, including hormonal changes leading to loosened ligaments, the added weight of the growing baby putting pressure on the coccyx, and shifts in posture.

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