I started having these lower back and pelvic pains around 20 weeks or so with my first, but I passed them off as just pregnancy woes. However, it started getting worse and worse as time went on and I grew larger. Simple tasks of daily living which you would normally never really think about became a lot harder to do. Things such as putting on your underwear, getting in and out of the car, or walking up the stairs were now completely unbearable to do and had me almost in tears. I couldn’t turn in bed without feeling like my legs and pelvis were being split apart- what the actual hell? That is where Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction comes in..
What’s Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction?
It’s a semi-common condition during pregnancy in which the hormone Relaxin (that’s responsible for relaxing all of your joints & ligaments in your pelvis to prepare your body for baby’s birth) get a little too loose too soon. This, in turn, can make the pelvic joint — aka the symphysis pubis — unstable, causing some pretty strange sensations and sometimes pelvic pain. You usually see it in 1/300 pregnant ladies. These problems are not as well understood as they should be. One of the least researched and understood pregnancy complications is SPD which is so bad because it’s such a crippling condition.
It got so bad for me that the simple task of walking became unbearable. Fortunately it was diagnosed by a very on-the-ball midwife, who immediately referred me to the physiotherapy department at my local hospital. They confirmed the diagnosis, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) over the phone and I saw them soon after. I was advised to get as much rest as possible, lying down on my side to take the pressure off the pelvis. Also to avoid standing on one leg at all cost, for example to sit down to get dressed and to go up and down stairs on my bottom. I was told to avoid manual handling and I was given exercises to do at home as well as a pregnancy support belt which made a huge difference!
Fortunately for me, The symptoms went almost immediately after giving birth. It was amazing! I was up and walking straight after I had my 2 stitches done ( 2nd degree internal tears ) with the help of the midwife and Liam. I had a lot of support from friends & family once at home. Especially those who cleaned the flat, and made Liam and I food. SPD made me feel extremely isolated during my pregnancy, especially as I couldn’t even walk without being in pain, so I valued very much those friends who came round to see me before and after the birth.
What can you do to relieve the pain? Here are 4 things that have helped me:
Wear a pelvic support belt made for pregnancy. It helps with a lot of things, especially with SPD too. So, I strapped mine on and started wearing it religiously. It helped to keep my pelvis aligned as well as lifting my heavy belly off of my bladder which relieves incontinence and low back pain. Complete game changer for anyone who has SPD.
Do your Kegels, & Pelvic Tilts. Doing these exercises (that I am sure you are probably sick of hearing about) are very important. Why? They strengthen the pelvic floor. Pregnancy takes a TOLL on your pelvic floor. I am 6 months postpartum and I STILL do them as I still get pelvic pain every now and then.
Avoid known triggers. My triggers were rolling in bed, getting out of the car, and standing on one leg to put trousers on. Obviously those are hard to avoid, but what you SHOULD do is avoid how you do them. My physio recommended putting a plastic bag on the seat of the car and keeping my knees together while getting in/out of it. Also keeping Knees together when turning in bed since this helps to keep the pelvis aligned. When putting on undies, or trousers, she recommended that I sit down instead of standing. All of these recommendations helped to make the pain a lot better.
Seek help. Talk to your doctor/midwife and tell them what’s wrong. Ask to see a physio as soon as you start to get the pains, don’t leave it like I did. I have also been advised to see a chiropractor regularly for adjustments and to help me build back my pelvic strength with the next baby before I deliver . It should apparently help to keep my pelvis aligned which should alleviate some of the pain.
• Use pillows to support your lower back when sitting
• stop wearing high heels
• Use heat packs on the lower back and ice packs on your lady parts
• Lay on your side instead of your back
• Never cross one leg over the other when sitting
• Avoid jumping or jarring activities
• Avoid bike riding
• Try to avoid stairs if possible
• Sit on your fitness ball for relief
One more trick for dealing with SPD or pelvic pain in general during pregnancy is to sit down, ball up your fist, and place that fist between your knees. Then you can squeeze both knees towards the fist and hold for about 10 seconds. This exercise will help to strengthen all of the muscles between your legs-yup, including the pelvic floor!
Chances are that if you suffered with SPD during your first pregnancy, then you will suffer with it again during any subsequent pregnancies. Does this put me off having another baby? Absolutely not.
I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to cope with SPD during pregnancy. Did you suffer with SPD during your pregnancy? Had you heard of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction before? What did you do to help it?