The tailbone, also known as the coccyx, consists of three to five bones connected to each other by joints and cartilage. It is located at the bottom of the spine directly above the buttocks.
Tailbone pain during pregnancy may be sharp or dull, and it varies in intensity. You will probably notice that the pain gets worse when you sit down for long periods of time. Sitting puts increased pressure on the tailbone. Tailbone pain while pregnant may also grow worse if you lie on your back or if you have to strain to have a bowel movement.
If your coccyx is injured or shifts out of position, you may also experience pain in your hips and upper legs.
Because the choice of pain medications you can take while pregnant is limited, it's a good idea to learn what might lead to tailbone hurting while pregnant and how to relieve tailbone pain during pregnancy.
1. Tailbone pain during pregnancy is commonIt's no fun to experience pain in your lower back whether you are pregnant or not. Rest assured, though, pain in the coccyx during pregnancy is completely normal. The vast majority of the time, it does not signify any serious problem.
The tailbone hurts during pregnancy because it is situated very close to the uterus. As the uterus changes to accommodate your growing baby, the tailbone is affected as well.
Coccyx pain is a normal, though annoying, part of carrying a baby. If you do experience tailbone pain while pregnant, make sure to mention it to your doctor or midwife. He or she can check you over just to make sure there are no complications that need to be handled swiftly. Your doctor or midwife can also talk to you about steps you can take to make yourself more comfortable.
2. Several factors can lead to your tailbone hurting while pregnantTailbone pain can occur at any time from early pregnancy to even after delivery.
Tailbone pain pregnancy first trimester: most likely related to hormones. Early in your pregnancy, your body releases two hormones called relaxin and estrogen to relax the ligaments in your pelvic floor. This allows your womb to expand as your baby grows.
Tailbone pain pregnancy second trimester: usually occurs when your baby is growing, and the uterus starts pushing against your coccyx.
Tailbone pain pregnancy third trimester: typically caused by the expanding uterus putting pressure on your coccyx. Your tailbone might have also shifted out of its normal position due to the extra pressure, especially if your baby is large.
Finally, your tailbone may be bruised or even fractured during vaginal delivery. This becomes more likely if your baby is large or if your birth canal is unusually narrow. If your doctor sees you struggling, he or she may suggest a c section to ease pressure on the baby and to protect you from internal injuries.
You may experience some tailbone pain after c section, especially if you had a prolonged labor before the decision was made to operate.
3. Health conditions can worsen tailbone painYour coccyx is already shifting due to hormones and your expanding baby bump. But you should be aware of some other factors that may increase your tailbone pain.
Chronic constipation, for instance, means that you have to strain to have a bowel movement. Straining can further destabilize your coccyx and increase your pain. If you are constipated, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and make fiber a regular part of your diet. Your doctor or midwife may also have some suggestions for relief.
Your pain may also become worse if you suffer a low back injury. The most common causes of injury are falling, being struck in the lower back and having an accident. Be sure to notify your doctor or midwife if your back is injured while you are pregnant.
SPD, which stands for symphysis pubic dysfunction, is a condition that destabilizes and causes movement in the pelvic region. Because the pelvis and the tailbone are so close to each other, this condition may also affect the coccyx.
A herniated disc in your lower spine may also lead to your tailbone hurting while pregnant.
In rare cases, tailbone pain early pregnancy may be a sign of pelvic cancer. Make sure you speak with your doctor if you experience severe tailbone pain during pregnancy and rule any of these factors out.
4. How you sleep can affect tailbone pain during pregnancyTailbone pain is more likely to occur if you sleep on your back or if your spine is not well supported when you are lying down.
A few recommendations on how to relieve tailbone pain during pregnancy and sleep better too: sleep on your left side with a pillow tucked between your knees. If you are experiencing tailbone pain pregnancy second trimester or third trimester, use a pillow to support your stomach as your baby bump gets bigger. It's a good idea to get a full-body pillow for this purpose.
5. Sitting can make your coccyx pain worse, but there are steps you can take to ease the discomfort
When you are sitting down, all the weight of your upper body - now including the weight of your baby - puts pressure on the coccyx. It's a good idea to relieve this pressure by standing up and walking around
once every hour or so. If you're in an office setting, walk across the hall to use the bathroom or have a quick chat with a co-worker. If you're at home, walk up and down the block or get up to do a few light chores.
If your job requires you to be in front of a computer for a large part of the day, look into the possibility of using a standing work station
If sitting down for long periods of time is unavoidable, for instance if you have to sit for work or during a long trip, consider purchasing a seat cushion
or a support pillow. A well-made cushion can support your spine and relieve pressure on your tailbone. You will probably want to look for a U-shaped cushion so that little or no weight rests on your tailbone. You can check out our best pregnancy seat cushion guide here
Finally, practice good posture when sitting. Keep your spine straight. Avoid slumping forward or leaning back. Some women find it easier to sit on a balance ball instead of a regular chair.
6. Exercise can help relieve tailbone hurting while pregnant
If you've been wondering how to relieve tailbone pain during pregnancy, consider developing an exercise plan. Exercise can be very simple. Even taking a walk around the block two or three times a day is good for your body.
Swimming is also an excellent way to keep your body moving. It allows you to remain limber while avoiding any pressure on your joints or on your tailbone.
If you are experiencing tailbone pain in early pregnancy, try joining a yoga class for pregnant women. If such a class isn't available where you live, look up some yoga poses online. Especially helpful poses for tailbone pain include the cat/cow poses, the bridge pose and the child's pose. You can also try gentle stretches such as sliding into a squatting position with your back against the wall. Another easy stretch is to sit comfortably, cross your ankle over your knee and then slightly lean forward from the waist.
Avoid any poses that require you to lie on your stomach or your back. Torso twists are also not advisable, especially later on in your pregnancy. Before you start any exercise program, run it past your doctor or your midwife.
7. A maternity belt may ease tailbone pain
If you are experiencing tailbone pain during third trimester, a maternity belt
may give you some relief. A maternity belt is a band or a wrap that fits snugly around your stomach and lower back. It is especially useful if you have to spend a lot of time on your feet.
A maternity belt corrects posture, supports abdominal muscles which may have been weakened by your pregnancy and removes pressure from your lower spine and tailbone.
8. Shoes you wear may cause tailbone pain during pregnancyThis advice has nothing to do with the fashion police, but what you wear during pregnancy can affect coccyx pain. First and foremost, avoid wearing high heels.
This is a good idea for a couple of reasons. Wearing high heels can throw off your posture and put strain on your lower back. Furthermore, high heels put you at an increased risk for falls. A fall could injure your lower back and coccyx and make your tailbone pain worse. During your pregnancy, try to stick to flats or shoes with low heels.
9. A heating pad or an ice pack may ease your tailbone pain
Consider using a heating pad
or an ice pack to relieve tailbone pain. Ice is helpful for numbing the sharp pain
that accompanies an injury. It can also reduce inflammation. Heat, on the other hand, opens the blood vessels and increases blood flow
to areas that are sore.
If you want to try a heating pad for tailbone pain in early pregnancy - or late pregnancy, for that matter - take a few basic precautions
. Avoid painful burns by wrapping a towel around the heating pad, putting it on the lowest setting and removing it after no more than 20 minutes.
10. Your tailbone pain will disappear eventually after you give birth
As your womb slowly returns to normal after you give birth, your coccyx, too, will return to its normal position. Within a few weeks
, your tailbone pain should fade away completely.
If you have tailbone pain after a c section
, especially if you had the c section after a long and difficult labor, your coccyx may have been bruised or fractured
during delivery. This type of injury is unpleasant, but it, too, will heal with time.
A fracture takes about eight weeks
to heal, though your tailbone may remain tender and inflamed for a while longer. Use home remedies
such as sleeping on your left side, using a seat cushion
, stretching and applying heat while you heal. Be sure, of course, to keep your doctor or midwife in the loop, especially if the pain does not improve or if it gets worse instead of better over time.
Pregnancy should be a time of joy and anticipation. Unfortunately, it can also bring certain discomforts such as tailbone pain. When you experience this type of pain, don't let it get you down. Remind yourself that your symptoms are perfectly normal. We hope the strategies we shared with you today will help make your pregnancy a happy, positive experience.