If you’re pregnant, you may be experiencing tailbone pain. This is a common occurrence, and there are ways to manage it. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what tailbone pain during pregnancy is, why it happens, and how to alleviate the discomfort. Keep reading to learn more!
But first, how do I know all of this? Hi — I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I also had SEVERE tailbone pain with my last baby in 2009. I asked SO many doctors and nurses if they had ANY idea what it is. I had very little luck and ultimately had to find help myself. So, I’m happy to help you in this article!
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What is tailbone pain during pregnancy and what are the causes?
Tailbone pain during pregnancy is caused by the shifting and loosening of the pelvic ligaments. These ligaments support the uterus, and as the baby grows, they stretch and loosen.
This can cause the tailbone to shift out of place, leading to pain. Additionally, the pelvic floor muscles are connected to the tailbone. As these muscles loosen and stretch, they can pull on the tailbone, causing pain.
Personally, I had tailbone pain with my last 2 pregnancies. They kept thinking that one of my babies had broken my tailbone at delivery (but it looked fine on x-ray), but in reality it was my pelvis separating and then my pelvis was just trying to compensate throughout the day which made it SO painful.
So, tailbone pain in pregnancy is normally caused by one of two things:
- Baby’s head putting pressure on that area (this would normally not happen til’ later into your 3rd trimester)
- Loosening of your pelvis as well as changes to the liagements and joints around your pelvis that makes it shift (and hurt).
It COULD be happening if you’ve had a fall, that’s why most people have tailbone pain. Like a fall roller skating or a fall on the ice. If that’s the case it’s a different cause and you’d want to talk to your provider.
I am talking about pain specifically caused by pregnancy.
How can you relieve tailbone pain during pregnancy naturally without medication or surgery?
There are several things you can do to alleviate tailbone pain during pregnancy without medication or surgery.
1- Try a maternity support belt. This belt will help take some of the pressure off of your back and pelvis. I also felt like it “pushed” my pelvis together (when it was wanting to separate at the supra pubis area) and gave it support that I my pelvis craved.
Sometimes I’d just try tight pants and that even helped (scrubs at work as a nurse were the WORST as I wear them super lose and my pelvis just had nothing to help it stay together.
2 – Stretching can be helpful. I actually also had a lot of foot pain in addition to tailbone pain, and that was also due to my pelvis shifting those muscles down my leg. When I did a lot of hip/thigh stretches it REALLY helped. When in doubt, try a prenatal yoga class and see if it does anything for you.
3 – Limit Movement That Makes it Worse — any time your legs have to separate it is worse and pulls at things more for your body. So, trying to keep legs together as much as possible will really help. So, things like twisting your body 90 degrees to get out of a car rather than pulling one leg out and then moving the other leg to join it.
4 – Wearing Good Shoes Your shoes may be making this all worse. The hard part is it is different for everyone, so I’d encourage you to try some of your shoes to see if any make it better. Your high heels may need to take a break until the pregnancy is over.
5 – See a Physical Therapist — if the items above haven’t helped I would totally ask your doctor to refer you to a good physical therapist. Bonus points if it’s a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor rehab. I talked to one on my podcast.
They can give you stretches, help you limit movements that aren’t helping and more to help you manage it until delivery.
6 – See A Chiropractor — Their entire occupation is based on the bones and making them align in proper ways, so they are a natural fit for this. Be SURE to find one who is trained in the Webster method. Those people have extra skills to treat pregnant patients.
I know they always say to lose weight and watch your posture, and I think those CAN help, but the worst tailbone I have seen are in skinny women. So, don’t let them just say you’re overweight and there’s nothing they can do — that’s not true.
Is there injections or surgery that can help?
Your doctor may recommend steroid injections to help reduce inflammation and pain.
I actually had a tailbone epidural injection after my last baby. It did help a bit, mostly to help my pelvis relax and re-align. However, long-term stretching, and working to re-gain muscles in that area are the only things that helped.
I haven’t seen anyone have surgery for it during pregnancy (although I’m sure it’s happened).
What are some tips for avoiding tailbone pain during pregnancy altogether in the future?
Honestly, if your pelvis is separating (Symphysis Pubis separation) they say that it will just get worse each time.
However, in the meantime you can strengthen your pelvic floor with physical therapy. You can also get into a good routine of stretching the muscles that are often problematic for you.
While wearing a pelvic support band can help, you’d want to really work your muscles around there to strengthen them, rather than relying on the band. Physical therapy would be helpful for that.
I have a post all about how I felt at 38 weeks and he pelvic pain made it so I had a hard time walking.
Can tailbone pain cause other problems during pregnancy or delivery, and if so, what are they?
It depends on the cause of it.
If it is truly that your baby’s head is resting on your tailbone, some people do have issues pushing their baby past their tailbone.
If your tailbone is broken due to baby putting pressure on it I have seen them just recommend a cesarean section. That type of choice would definitely be rare though, and you’d want to discuss it with your provider at length.
How long will tailbone pain last after you have your baby?
For me, my tailbone pain lasted two years.
I was really overwhelmed by having 3 children and I wasn’t taking good care of myself.
I did visit a physical therapist but she ultimately wasn’t that helpful. She wanted to do a lot of vaginal stretches and they didn’t seem to help.
I also visited a chiropractor who wasn’t all that helpful either.
Ultimately I needed to stretch more. A LOT more. I needed to wear good shoes and just take better care of myself.
I have heard that with proper physical therapy it can go away in just a few weeks, so I hope that is true for you!
Quick question — have you taken a prenatal class? I founded the most tailbone-friendly class on the internet in 2016 and have only improved it since then. I knew pregnant families didn’t need to be sitting in hard chairs when they could be laying on the couch with some snacks.
Come join me in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. In just a few hours I can help you feel confident about your hospital birth!
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.