Researchers say that clinicians must give more attention to working women who experience pelvic girdle pain (PGP) during pregnancy to prevent recurrence during the postpartum period.
Mireille van Poppel (VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and team found that women who experienced PGP when 6 weeks pregnant were significantly more likely to experience it again 12 weeks postpartum.
The first of two statistical models that the researchers developed showed that pregnancy-related predictors of PGP at 12 weeks postpartum included a history of low back pain, higher somatization (>8.8 on the Four-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire), more than 8 hours of sleep or rest each day, and an uncomfortable posture at work.
The second model revealed that pregnancy and postpartum related predictors of PGP at 12 weeks included a higher disability score at 6 weeks (>3.2 on Roland-Morris Disability-24 Questionnaire), higher mean pain score at 6 weeks (>3.5 on scale of 1-10), and higher somatization during pregnancy and 6 weeks-postpartum (>8.8).
As reported in Pain, a higher birth weight of the baby (>3649 g), an uncomfortable posture at work, and no bed rest were also associated with PGP at 12 weeks according to the second model.
"It is important to identify predictors for postpartum PGP, because physicians, obstetricians, midwives, and employers could use them to identify women at risk for PGP and develop and implement preventive measures," remarked van Poppel in a press statement.
"These professionals can also give extra guidance aimed at the prevention of PGP during pregnancy or in the early postpartum period to women at risk for developing postpartum PGP."
The team administered surveys to 548 pregnant Dutch employees who worked at least 12 hours each week during their pregnancy and intended to return to work following maternity leave.
The survey found that 73% of the women experienced PGP at 30 weeks of pregnancy, 48% between 0 and 6 weeks postpartum, and 43% between 6 and 12 weeks postpartum.
"More somatization, more hours of sleep or rest, and no days of bed rest after delivery were found to be related to an increased risk for PGP, and those are new findings," said van Poppel.
"While somatization is also a predictor for chronic low back pain and irritable bowel syndrome, it has not been previously reported as a predictor of PGP. One explanation might be that women who have PGP probably have a higher awareness of their bodily sensations. Alternatively, women who have mental problems might somatize and report PGP as a result."
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