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Pregnancy tends to elicit a range of feelings in women. Some feel elated and excited about the prospect of becoming a mother. Others feel anxious and worried about the changes their body will go through. And then there are those who simply feel pain in different forms throughout pregnancy.
For many women, pregnancy can be an especially difficult time as they deal with the various aches and pains that come along with it. From morning sickness and heartburn, to back pain and swollen ankles, pregnancy can be a real pain in the…well, you know- pain in the tailbone. 😉
One relatively common and debilitating pain expecting women experience is tailbone pain during pregnancy- most often in the later stages of pregnancy (late second trimester and beyond).
What Causes Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy?
Also known as coccydynia, or coccyx pain, tailbone pain can be caused by one or more of the following factors:
- Added weight and pressure on the tailbone during pregnancy as the uterus expands. The tailbone is at the very bottom of the spine in the lower back(and pelvic region) and directly under the growing baby.
- Changes in the way a pregnant woman sits, lays down, and/or stands can put extra strain on the tailbone, lower back, neck, etc.- causing pain.
- Hormone changes, particularly relaxin, that occur during pregnancy can cause the ligaments around the tailbone to loosen and lead to pain from the first trimester on.
If you are experiencing pain in the tailbone, especially if it’s affecting your daily activities, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about your concerns.
My Own Experience with Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy
I remember with my first pregnancy, that I had all kinds of pains before I even realized I was pregnant. It started with hip pain that I’d never experienced before that turned into the occasional sharp pain in my tailbone or butt muscles. As a physical therapist, I knew that this was most likely due to my ligaments and muscles shifting and stretching as my body prepared for pregnancy.
However, for a first-time mom or anyone not familiar with the wide range of discomfort that can accompany pregnancy- experiencing issues like tailbone can be extra frustrating, even debilitating.
What to Do for Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy
The good news is that there are some things pregnant women can do to relieve tailbone pain during pregnancy. Here are a few tips:
Try a pillow
Sitting on a donut pillow or placing one (smallish) pillow under each thigh can take direct pressure off your tailbone and relieve tailbone pain
Support your legs when lying down
Don’t forget to use pillows when you lie down too. When you lay down on your side, put a pillow between your knees for support. Your hips and pelvis will thank you.
If you’re resting, then lying down instead of sitting is better for resting your tired body. This will take direct pressure on any irritated tissues around the tailbone.
Avoid high heels and shoes without much arch support
Uncomfortable shoes and pregnancy just don’t go together (or ever- in my opinion ha). Avoiding high heels can help you avoid extra strain on your lower back muscles and buttocks from a change in your posture.
Sit in an ergonomically adjusted chair
Posture in sitting and standing can play a big role in tailbone pain during pregnancy. If you have to sit for work, grab an adjustable office chair that allows you to keep both of your feet flat on the floor and hips bent to slightly less than 90 degrees. Excessive hip flexion can put extra pressure on the entire low back and cause all kinds of pain during pregnancy- like SI joint pain. Additionally, avoid leaning to one side, as this can further aggravate your pain.
Move your body
Most of all, although it may not be what you want to do, getting your body moving can actually help relieve pain. Gentle and regular movement will keep your joints, muscles, and other tissues as happy as possible.
Note: While some discomfort is expected, never force anything that makes your pain even worse.
Try a heating pad or ice pack
This isn’t my favorite recommendation, because the tailbone or coccyx is relatively deep. Since the use of ice and heat only affect superficial layers of your skin and muscle, the effects will help you get relief in the short-term at the most. However, if you do notice sore muscles in the butt or hips- these options can feel great. Just be sure to stay tuned to your body to avoid overheating.
Be Easy on Yourself
Last but not definitely not least, don’t forget to give yourself grace in this new time. Your body is changing daily and you are growing a human! Recognize your limits, ask for lots of help, and realize that you probably won’t be able to go through your day at the same pace as you were before pregnancy (a good lesson to learn before you have a newborn!).
What’s the best way to ease tailbone pain during pregnancy?
Of all the tips above, which is best? Regular gentle exercise and movement is key to a healthy pregnancy and managing all the aches and pains that come with it- like tailbone pain.
When pregnant with my first daughter, I remember getting home from a long day at work and only wanting to plop on the couch and not move the rest of the evening. BUT, when I made myself change into yoga clothes and do at least 10 minutes of stretching and core movement- I always felt better. Plus, it helped me sleep better too as a huge bonus.
I know how unmotivating it can be to move mama, but try anyways! Your body will appreciate it 🙂
Exercises for Easing Tailbone Pain
Let’s get into some specific exercises you can do to help ease your tailbone pain during pregnancy. Please note, that if any of these movements make your pain worse, stop and consult with your physician or physical therapist first.
1. Pelvic Tilts for Tailbone Pain or Lower Back Pain
This is a great starting point for all exercises, as it helps to stabilize your pelvis and low back, which can help take some pressure off of your tailbone.
- Start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine (not overly arched but it doesn’t need to be perfectly flat either)
- As you exhale, tuck your pelvis under and posteriorly tilt your pelvis (as if tucking your tail)
- As you inhale, return to a neutral spine and slightly arch the low back
- Focus on comfortable engaging the core (abdominals and pelvic floor) during this movement too
- Repeat for 12-15 repetitions throughout the day as needed
- You can also try it in sitting but your tailbone may not like it. Standing is also an option but can be hard to coordinate with the weight of your belly
2. Cat-Cow Stretch to Relieve Tailbone Pain
While you’re on your hands and knees, a few Cat-Cow stretches can help loosen up your lower back and pelvis too. This one is great for releasing tension from the entire spine. It is similar to the pelvic tilts above, except now you will get your upper back, neck, and head involved too for a full body movement.
- As you inhale, arch your spine and let your belly sink towards the floor. Tip your head back and look up at the ceiling at the same time.
- As you exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin to your chest. Tuck your pelvis under and posteriorly tilt as you did in the pelvic tilts above.
- Repeat for 12-15 repetitions throughout the day as needed.
- Remember to move slowly and with control through this exercise- never forcing anything.
- If you are having trouble getting on your hands and knees, you can also try this stretch in standing with your hands resting on your thighs.
3. Child’s Pose
My personal favorite during pregnancy. This is a great restorative stretch that can help lengthen your low back and open up your hips. You can stay here for as long as you need to- even a minute or two can make a big difference.
- Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. You will probably have to shift your knees outward as you get into position to make room for your belly.
- As you exhale, sit back on your heels and slowly walk your hands out in front of you. If you can, rest your forehead on the ground. If your belly and growing baby are in the way or this is too much pressure on your low back, place a block or pillow under your forehead instead.
- Once you are in the stretch, breathe deeply and relax into it for at least 30 seconds to a minute.
- If you allow your body to fully relax, you should notice that the body releases tension and you will feel great.
For other yoga poses for tailbone pain or other general pregnancy pain and discomfort, see our basic yoga guide for pregnant women.
4. Seated Hip Abduction to Help Relieve Tailbone Pain
This is a great exercise to help improve your hip mobility and stability. It will also help increase blood flow to your glutes (butt muscles) which are actually intricately connected to the tailbone.
- Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart
- For resistance, you can either wrap a band around your thighs near your knees or place your hands on the outside of your thighs for manual resistance
- Keeping your core engaged and spine tall, slowly pull the knees away from each other against your resistance to a comfortable distance apart
- Hold for 3 to 5 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position
- Repeat 10 to 15 times as needed
5. Seated Hip Adduction (Pillow Squeeze) to Ease Tailbone Pain
This is the “opposite” of Seated Hip Abduction and targets the inner thighs- other muscles intricately connected to your pelvis. This is another great exercise to help promote blood flow and keep the hip and core strong and mobile.
- Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart
- Place a pillow between your knees
- Squeeze the pillow between your thighs and hold for up to 5 seconds
- Don’t squeeze so tight that you increase your tailbone pain or back pain
- Repeat 10 to 15 times as needed
You can get more personalized recommendations and biomechanical advice from physical therapy.
Progress your core and hip exercises to reduce tailbone pain:
The five exercises listed above are a great place to start. Other exercise options that can be beneficial (as long as you can tolerate it and your doctor approves) include:
- Bird dogs
- Kegels (although talk to a pelvic floor physical therapist- as you may need help learning to relax them more than anything else)
Other gentle exercises to try to include for tailbone pain:
- Swimming (aqua jogging, aerobics, lap swimming, etc.)
- Pregnancy-safe pilates or barre
Getting Tailbone Pain Relief with Simple Yet Effective Remedies
Aches and pains during pregnancy are, unfortunately, a relatively common occurrence, but can you try these easy remedies and see if they relieve tailbone pain.
If you are still experiencing tailbone pain after trying these exercises, or you’re not sure where to start, a physical therapist that specializes in women’s health can be your best friend. In fact, having a trusted physical therapist on speed dial is a great choice for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and beyond to help you feel your best as a mom.
Are you experiencing any tailbone pain or other type of pain during your pregnancy? What remedies have you found most helpful? I’d love to hear in the comments and chat more with you! You can always email me too at [email protected]