Pelvic Girdle Pain or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction is a condition that affects a lot of women in pregnancy. SPD in pregnancy is pain that is usually in your hips and can be at the front or back of your pubic bone or in your hips and back. It is an extremely painful condition for some and can mean getting around is almost impossible.
I was about 18 weeks pregnant when I started getting some pain in my coccyx. I figured it was just because I was doing a bit much or that I’d slept funny or just some new random pregnancy symptom. Turns out it was PGP and it got progressively worse.
What does SPD in pregnancy feel like?
I think it’s different for every woman. For me it was a searing pain in my coccyx (tailbone) and it was almost impossible for me to get up from chairs if I’d sat for too long. I was in a bit of a predicament because if I sat for too long I’d struggle to get up (imagine a numb bum only 50,000 times worse and there’s nothing numb about it!) but if I stood for too long then the pain would radiate down my bum and up through between my legs.
I was offered a referral to physiotherapy and stupidly I declined the appointment (I blame pregnancy hormones for that one!). I may consider getting referred again because I think I’ve got some lasting damage as I am still having issues now and my daughter is over 1 year old.
Does SPD in pregnancy go away after the birth?
Not necessarily. If you get treatment during pregnancy in the form of physio then it’s highly likely that you will be able to deal with the pain and get to a stage where it resolves. However, if you’re stupid like me or just unlucky (I have heard of women who get physio and it doesn’t help) then you will be suffering long after the birth.
Like I said earlier, my daughter is 16 months old and I still sometimes struggle with my tailbone pain.
How is SPD in pregnancy treated?
Most of the time you can ask your midwife or your GP for a referral to physio and they will help sort you out. The NHS recommends pain relief, exercises to strengthen the pelvic area as well as physical therapy as possible treatment options for Pelvic Girdle Pain which is what I had.
What are the symptoms of SPD in pregnancy?
Some symptoms of SPD include:
- Pain in hips and in between your legs
- Pain in your tailbone or back
- Pain in between your vagina and anus
- Pain in your hips or back while turning over in bed
- Pain worsening when going up stairs
- Pain worsening when standing on one leg
- Pain worsening when moving your legs apart
Luckily, SPD in pregnancy doesn’t usually affect the type of birth you have. Almost all women with PGP or SPD go on to have perfectly natural vaginal births.
When does SPD in pregnancy start?
It can vary. I’ve heard a lot of people don’t get it until much later in pregnancy. I was unlucky because for me it was a real nightmare and I had it so early. 18 weeks I remember struggling to sit properly.
What causes SPD or PGP in pregnancy?
The thing about SPD is it’s nothing to do with the weight of the baby (although that doesn’t help!). It’s to do with ligaments and hormones. When you are pregnant, your body eventually releases hormones which loosen the ligaments around your pelvis to prepare for the birth. For some women this works fine and happens at the appropriate time. For other, it happens earlier and their bodies go into overdrive and it can have some negative effects – that’s what SPD and PGP is.
The importance of treatment for SPD during pregnancy
If you think you have SPD or PGP then you should definitely speak to your midwife or doctor as soon as possible. Get the treatment you need as soon as you can. I was stupid to leave it and I’m now suffering well after my daughter’s birth. I’ve also got the risk that because I’ve left it so long, any treatment I have will take longer or worse, not work at all!
Getting the help you need to relieve your symptoms and try and reverse the problems as early as you can is super important.