By CCIF’s Fi Star-Stone
I’ve just been diagnosed with symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) also known as Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP).
I’m not one to complain…..No, honestly, I’m really not! But I feel I’m entitled to a bit of a moan today regarding my pregnancy.
Don’t get me wrong! I feel truly blessed to be pregnant again (only three months after having my daughter who we had waited for for three years!) However, this time, it’s so much more tiring, so much more niggly, and now I have this annoying condition to add to my list of grumps!
I’m not alone in my suffering, apparently one in 35 women suffer during their pregnancy due to the hormone relaxin being released into the body. In pregnancy this hormone is released to soften the joints in preparation for the birth of the baby.
According to Ann Johnson, superintendent physiotherapist in women’s health at Leeds General Infirmary, the hormone can cause the ligaments to soften and stretch too much and become painful.
“It is normal for there to be a gap of 4-5mm between the two pubic points at the symphysis pubis joint and during any pregnancy this widens by another 2-3mm. If this gap widens more than this pain may occur and in some cases a severe form of the condition called diastasis symphysis pubis is diagnosed.
The job of the symphysis pubis joint is to hold the pelvis steady when we’re using our legs, and if the ligaments have softened or stretched too much it won’t work properly and strain is put on the other pelvic joints, causing pain.” says Johnson.
Although (thankfully) it’s not threatening to the baby, the condition is pretty uncomfortable for the mother and can lead to needing to wear a pelvic support garment (pictured below) or Tubigrip bandage, and crutches if walking is difficult. To balance out my moan, I’m going to share the things I’ve found out that can help this condition, which I’m hoping will help.
Things to help:
- Avoid lying on your back for long periods of time, particularly after the 19th week of your pregnancy.
- Try lying on your side (preferably your left) with a pillow placed between your knees and another under your tummy, or a fantastic pregnancy pillow called the Dream geni (pictured) works wonders!
Turning over in bed
- To turn to your right while lying on your back, arch your lower back, tighten your pelvic floor muscles and lower abdominal muscles and bend both knees one by one.
- Turn your head to the right and take your left arm over to the right of your body.
- Hold onto the side of your bed if you can.
- To turn, pull with your left hand and take both knees over to the right so that you roll to the right. As soon as possible, bend your knees up as high as they will go – this helps to lock out your pelvis and lessen pain.
- Reverse this to turn to the left.
Getting out of bed
- Roll onto your side with your knees bent up, move your feet over the edge of the bed and push yourself up sideways with your arms.
- Reverse the process when you lie down.
Standing from a sitting position.
- Sit on the edge of the chair.
- Keeping your knees apart slightly and lean forwards till your head is directly over your knees, keeping your back straight.
- Stand up by pushing up with your arms, with your back straight and tummy tucked in. This helps to hold your pelvic joints in their most stable position and may reduce your pain significantly.
Getting in and out of the car.
- Place a plastic bag on the seat so you can slide easily around (legs together.) This helps to hold your pelvic joints in their most stable position.
Exercises to help.
Pelvic floor and tummy exercises can ease the strain on your pelvis.
- Get down onto your hands and knees and level your back so that it is roughly flat.
- Breathe in and then as you breathe out, squeeze in your pelvic floor muscles and at the same time pull your belly button in and up.
- Hold this contraction for between five and 10 seconds without holding your breath and without moving your back, then relax.
I’ve been told that the condition will go a few weeks after I’ve had my baby, which I’m very pleased about!
Pregnancy is tough work, but it’s also magical and I feel very lucky to be carrying another child, so I’ll stop my moaning now and go and get some chocolate! (It’s for medicinal purposes you understand?)
If you’ve suffered with this condition, I’d love to know how you coped or how long it took you to recover after.