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Dear Doctor: I’m Pregnant, Why Does My Tailbone Hurt?

Dear Ouch, My Tailbone!

Pregnancy causes many changes in your body, including aches and pains–some we’re prepared for and others not. While we often hear about lower back pain, coccyx pain during pregnancy is also pretty common. The coccyx is the medical term for your tailbone, which starts at the base of your spine and ends right above your buttock. Tailbone pain is called Coccydynia, and a few physical changes during pregnancy can ramp up that pain. First, let’s talk about what your tailbone is. It is a small, triangular bone at the base of the spinal column that serves as an attachment point for your pelvic and hip tendons. It’s also the bone that stabilizes us when we sit, so it’s pretty important. During pregnancy, a few things can contribute to tailbone pain:

  • During pregnancy, your posture shifts to accommodate the growing baby. Your pelvis may tilt forward, and the additional weight can cause pressure on the coccyx, which can range from uncomfortable to downright painful
  • The position of the coccyx is directly below the uterus, and the weight of the growing baby, fluid and placenta are pushing directly on that small bone
  • During pregnancy, your ovaries release a hormone called Relaxin, which prepares your body for delivery primarily by loosening the muscles around your pelvis. One side effect of Relaxin is that it can make your tailbone more sensitive to the pressure it is already under

There are a few things you can do to relieve tailbone pain:

  • Stretch or try yoga: Even without the added pressure of the growing baby, sitting for long periods can cause the coccyx to get tight. A daily stretching or yoga practice can be a great way to get some relief
  • Use ice or heat: You can use either heat or ice as a topical treatment to dull the pain
  • Use a special pillow: Pregnancy or body pillows are just this purpose–they can help reposition your body to take some pressure off of your tailbone

Tailbone pain may persist even after you are no longer pregnant because the body can take some time to readjust after pregnancy, so do not be alarmed if you are still experiencing a bit of discomfort post-delivery. Some tailbone pain or discomfort is fairly standard throughout your pregnancy, so there is no reason to be worried unless you’re having constant pain that stops you from performing normal activities or you suddenly have debilitating pain out of nowhere. 

If you have further questions about pregnancy aches or pains, contact your Genesis OB/GYN and request an appointment today.

-Dr. Christopher Sullivan

Christopher Sullivan, MD, FACOG, is a board-certified gynecologist practicing at Genesis OB/GYN in Tucson, AZ.