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Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy: Causes and Treatments

Throughout the stages of your pregnancy, you w­ill notice that as your bump grows and your body adjusts, some parts of the body will be under more strain than others. For many women, it can cause back pain but also tailbone pain during pregnancy. The tailbone is the last piece at the end of your spine, otherwise known as your coccyx.

As it is a common symptom of pregnancy that women experience, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, we felt that to support you best we would outline the causes of tailbone pain during pregnancy and how it can be treated. The good news is that there are some really simple and effective methods you can implement at home to minimise the discomfort tailbone pain can cause.

A pregnant woman is holding her back while suffering with tailbone pain during pregnancy

Reasons for Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy

A painful tailbone during pregnancy is mostly caused by hormonal changes in your body as you progress through each stage of pregnancy. And if you’re wondering when does tailbone pain start in pregnancy, the answer is that you may never feel this type of pain, yet others will. It is more commonly noted during the second and third trimester when your baby starts to go through bigger growth spurts which puts pressure on specific areas of your body, such as your coccyx.

The increased pressure and strain on your coccyx during pregnancy stems from the extra weight you are carrying (baby, placenta, extra fluid, etc.) and how this manipulates your posture to adjust to accommodate this. The third trimester is when you will see, and feel, your baby growing bigger more quickly.

When your pregnancy begins, your body starts to produce a hormone called “relaxin” which, quite literally, starts to soften and relax your muscles and ligaments. Your body needs to do this so that you can grow and carry your baby, but it does also mean that other parts of your body may feel some discomfort because there isn’t enough support there where there would usually be. Your joints will also be affected by the increase in relaxin roaming your body which can cause instability as you move around.

When you visit your doctor or midwife for regular check-ups, they will feel your tummy to see how your baby is positioned. This is especially important from 32 weeks onwards because this is when your baby will be moving their head down in preparation for labour. Coccyx bone pain during pregnancy is often felt by women whose babies are in a breach position with their feet or bottoms down instead. Something as simple as how your baby is laying in the womb can affect the pressure points that they are activating in you, and often, this affects the coccyx because of where it is situated.

In your booking appointment (first appointment), this would be an ideal time to mention any previous injuries, surgeries, or trauma you’ve experienced which could cause implications to your pregnancy. For example, if you have broken or fractured your tailbone in the past, it may not be as strong to endure the pressure that pregnancy and childbirth will put upon it and your healthcare professional will be able to advise and prepare you for options available to you.

When Does Tailbone Pain Start in Pregnancy?

As previously mentioned, women can start to experience pain in their coccyx bone during pregnancy towards the end of the second trimester or third trimester. However, it has been known to occur sooner than this if other circumstances are at play.

Identifying Triggers of Coccyx Bone Pain During Pregnancy

When you are aware of what can trigger your tailbone to hurt in pregnancy you can actively take measures to prevent or limit your chances of feeling any discomfort in this area. These triggers can include:

  • Prolonged sitting or standing, especially on a hard surface
  • Incorrect posture
  • Activities that involve bending, twisting, or lifting
  • Climbing stairs
  • Sleeping on your stomach can put unnecessary pressure on your tailbone and twists your upper spine when you turn your head to the side.
A pregnant woman is at doctor's office getting help for her coccyx bone pain

Symptoms of Pregnancy Tailbone Pain

If you think you are experiencing coccyx bone pain during pregnancy, you may get one or more of the following symptoms that can help you pinpoint where the pain is and what you can do to start minimising the pain. Symptoms of tailbone pain in pregnancy include:

  • Dull or sharp pain in the tailbone region
  • Discomfort when sitting or lying down
  • Pain worsened by movement or certain activities
  • Radiating pain to the lower back, hips, or legs in severe cases

The good news is that there are ways to prevent, minimise or eliminate coccyx pain in pregnancy and postpartum if you implement some simple treatments, most of which can be done at home.

Risk Factors for Pain in Coccyx Bone During Pregnancy

There are other factors that increase the chances of your tailbone hurting in pregnancy like being of an advanced maternal age, carrying multiple babies, a history of pelvic or back pain, or pre-existing conditions such as scoliosis or pelvic floor dysfunction.

Tips to Manage Painful Tailbone During Pregnancy

There are some aches and pains that are to be expected in pregnancy, but it doesn’t mean you have to endure them without some healthy intervention! Using one or more of these treatments will help you to reduce any coccyx bone pain you’re feeling which in turn will help you to be more mobile.

Resting, using ice packs, and heat therapy

The medicine there is – rest! Lola&Lykke’s Core Relief Pregnancy Support Belt has a pocket against the lower back that comes with a gel pack you can use to heat up or chill to get the targeted relief you need.

A pregnant woman is wearing Lola&Lykke Pregnancy Support Belt to ease her tailbone pain

Maintaining good posture and body mechanics

Remembering to sit and stand correctly is easier said than done, especially when you are pregnant. A support band can help you with this, even postpartum when your muscles are relaxed and need that extra support when you’re moving and carrying a newborn. If you need to lift anything, bend at the knees and use your leg muscles to pull you up with support if needed. Bending your back over will only increase the pressure and pain you feel in your tailbone.

Avoid being constipated

Eating a balanced diet that is rich in fibre as well as staying hydrated will help you to avoid being constipated. If there are medications that you use that can increase the chances of being constipated, talk this through with your healthcare professional to see if there are other alternatives or treatments you can follow in the meantime.

Use a supportive pillow when sitting or sleeping

Laying down on your side is the best position to be in to reduce any pressure and pain in your tailbone during pregnancy. Remember, you can use supportive pillows between your knees and there are full-body pregnancy pillows you can buy that support your bump and your back. There are also specific coccyx pillows in the shape of a U or donut-shaped pillows which can be used when seated. This medical leaflet about coccyx bone pain explains some helpful tips on how to best support your body when you’re sitting and standing.

A pregnant woman is doing prenatal yoga to help with her tailbone pain symptons

Practicing prenatal yoga or gentle stretching exercises

Yoga is a gentle practice which can be really beneficial for staying mobile and active throughout pregnancy. Whilst you may not be balancing on your elbow with your limbs all in an even tangle, there are some simple stretches that can relieve tailbone pain during pregnancy, such as:

  • Cat-Cow (kneeling on all fours and gently moving your spine curved to the ceiling and then the opposite down to the floor).
  • Standing Cat-Cow (Stand feet hip-width apart away from the wall. Press your hands into the wall in line with your shoulders and copy the movement to the stretch above.)
  • Downward facing dog (Starting on all fours and push your pelvis up to the ceiling so you are then on your hands and feet in a V- like position. Keep a gentle bend in your knees and spend a short time in this position at a time.)
  • Bridge (Lay on your back and bring your feet to your bottom. With your arms flat down at your sides, gently lift your bottom off the floor so that you are resting on your shoulders, arms, and feet.)
  • Child’s pose (Adapted for pregnancy – kneel with your knees apart, and tops of your feet flat on the floor. Walk your hands out in front of you until your arms are straight and let your shoulders sink towards the floor.)

Physical therapy exercises

Physical therapy exercises will strengthen the pelvic floor and core muscles. By strengthening these muscles, you’re helping your tailbone to be supported by the muscle groups around it and reduce any pressure in this area. Weakened pelvic floor muscles can be a trigger for tailbone pain in pregnancy so seeking guidance and advice for this type of treatment can be a great way to prevent this.

Other treatments that you can pursue are:

  • Taking over-the-counter medications or using topical creams (always seek advice from your healthcare professional before using)
  • Taking frequent breaks from sitting or standing
  • Acupuncture or massage therapy

Learn more: Pelvic Floor Exercises: Why are they important?

A table full of anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, salmon, olive oil and leafy greens

Dietary Considerations for Easing Pregnancy Tailbone Pain

If you are experiencing any symptoms of tailbone pain, you’ll want to prevent any extra pressure that around this area.

Consider introducing anti-inflammatory foods into your diet such as berries, herbal teas, and oily fish. Turmeric and Ginger are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and they can be used in cooking or drunk as an herbal tea infusion.

Staying hydrated is essential for your overall health but also to reduce being constipated. It will help the foods you eat to move around your digestive system and therefore be less painful when you go to the bathroom, and not to trigger any pain in your tailbone. With guidance from your doctor, you can introduce supplements to aid with your digestion and joint health if needed.

When to Seek Medical Attention about Pain at Tailbone During Pregnancy

If the pain you’re feeling in your tailbone is:

  • Persistent or severe tailbone pain that interferes with daily activities
  • Pain accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or numbness
  • Signs of infection or inflammation in the tailbone area

Then you need to consult a doctor straight away so you can get the medical attention you need. Lola&Lykke offer a free Maternal Advisory Service which is an online service where you can ask any questions to a panel of maternal experts and get an answer back via email.

Tailbone pain during pregnancy, and even in the postpartum stage, doesn’t have to limit what you can do, and you don’t need to endure any discomfort unnecessarily. Seeking advice from medical professionals, dieticians, and physiotherapists is a great step in the right direction to finding the right treatment for you in your circumstances.