SPD sucks. This is a fact I am all too certain of! SPD stands for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and is also known as PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain). I spoke about it briefly in my 30 weeks update but over the past couple of weeks, as my pain has become much worse, I thought I would write a post in more detail about it, to try and help other sufferers…
When I tell people my pelvis hurts, I feel like they think I’m exaggerating! And actually, had I not experienced it myself, I don’t think I could appreciate how debilitating it can be. It hurts. It hurts LIKE HELL. This week mine has flared up badly and I’ve been working from home, sitting on my swiss ball for comfort!
The pelvis has two halves which are held together by a joint called the Symphysis Pubis. When pregnant, your body produces a hormone called Relaxin which is very aptly named as it relaxes your muscles and ligaments. This is very handy when it comes to delivering your baby, it loosens your pelvis and softens the cervix, allowing him/her to just pop out (if only!).
SPD occurs when the pelvis joints move a little too much or a little too soon causing them to become unstable and, in turn, painful! It can sometimes make a vaginal birth more difficult, I remember last pregnancy, my midwife said “this might mean your labour is slightly more uncomfortable than it would be if you weren’t suffering with SPD”.
I was told by a doctor after Austin was born that she was surprised I had managed to deliver him naturally (albeit with the assistance of some big metal salad tongs!) because having suffered with SPD (not to mention him being back-to-back, with his head turned), my pelvis would have been misaligned and labour would have been a bit like “pushing a round peg, through a square hole!” so it’s really no wonder the poor little man needed to be dragged out with forceps!
Symptoms of SPD are basically lots of pain! Pain in the pelvis region is the main one but you can also suffer with pain in the back and hips. They tend to occur during movement rather then when you’re still. I find that turning over in bed, getting in & out of the bath and standing up from seated are the worst times for me but walking and driving are also bad. It’s likely that if you suffer from SPD in one pregnancy, you will also suffer in subsequent pregnancies and your symptoms more likely to come on earlier and progress faster – fab news!!
So, what can we do to help the pain…
- Always try to stand evenly, on both feet – don’t cross your legs and don’t slouch!
- Work your Pelvic Floor! This is essential for any pregnant lady but even more so for those of us with SPD because it will improve stability in your pelvis and back.
- Try not to move your legs more than hip distance apart, this goes for when you’re sitting or standing.
- Get in and out of the car with your legs together. Imagine you’re in a short skirt and you’re being papped, nobody wants to see those photo’s in the paper!
- Sit down to get dressed and put your shoes on! I feel like an old lady when I do this but it does help a lot.
- Sleep on your left side with a pillow between your legs.
- Wear a back support. The NHS physiotherapist that I saw gave me one to wear, I don’t think it’s really helping me but I don’t wear it as often as I could – it’s not very comfy!
- See an chiropractor. Ideally one who specialises in pregnancy. Mine (www.hookchiro.co.uk) gave me an exercise to do as often as I can: sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, make two fists and put them next to eachother between your knees, push your knees together at about 20% effort for 5 seconds. Ideally do these whenever you remember but especially before you stand up from seated. It will mean the muscles are engaged before you get up and should stabilise your pelvis more.
My research has told me that there really is no cure, other than giving birth! The best thing to do is help the symptoms by doing some or all of the above. Last pregnancy, my pains eased straight away after Austin was born so I’m hoping this time will be the same. Fingers crossed!
If anyone out there has suffered with SPD/PGP and found something that really helps, please get in touch!!