From my own experience and that of countless other women who have suffered from Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), excessive pain and legitimate concern are dismissed as being part and parcel of the pregnancy experience.
In case you missed my first post about SPD & Pregnancy, I'll review the big symptoms of SPD quickly, then move on to my story.
- Burning sensation in the front of the pelvis
- Pain standing on one foot, putting on pants/socks, climbing stairs
- Pain in the pelvis/pubic bone
- Feeling (or hearing!) a clicking while walking
My experience with SPD started during my first pregnancy.
I had some pretty severe sciatic nerve issues along with the SPD symptoms, and I assumed they were probably all related. I mean, it's all pelvis/butt/nether region pain, so it's likely all tied together, right? I was taking Bradley Method childbirth classes, so I learned how important it is to squat, tailor sit, and do some other exercises like pelvic rocks and butterflies. I am not usually one to exercise, but these aren't exactly high impact or high intensity exercises, so I tried to be diligent in doing them every day. Little did I know I was making things worse for my SPD!
I'm not one to complain much about pain (my husband might challenge this point). I don't usually take medicine for anything. I'll power through a headache if I get one. I was planning a natural birth, so, geez, I was prepared for some major discomfort! I certainly didn't want to be "that lady" calling the midwife about any little creak. But eventually, at around the 6th or 7th month of pregnancy, the pain was enough that I felt I needed to discuss it. The reply was essentially, "you're pregnant. Things hurt while you're pregnant." Duly noted. I sucked it up and finished out the pregnancy.
When it came to labor, I had thought for SURE I'd be in a squat, because I had learned that position opens up the pelvis an extra 10%, which sounded awesome! Thankfully, my body told me that I should push in the hands and knees position, which I later learned is one of the best positions for handling SPD without causing additional damage to the pubic joint.
I don't remember having any SPD symptoms immediately after my son was born, and I didn't have any issues between that pregnancy and the next one 14 months later.
My second pregnancy - some hope and a little relief!
For various reasons, I hired a different midwife when I found myself pregnant with our second child. The SPD symptoms started earlier than they had with my first pregnancy, but I never thought to bring it up with the new midwife, Katie, as I assumed it was just my load to bear while pregnant. Eventually, though, it got terrible. Around the 7.5 month mark, I was miserable. This time, it was not only my pelvis but my chest as well. I felt like my whole body was literally splitting right down the middle. It was horrible. It finally was bad enough that I mentioned it to Katie, who immediately suggested SPD and gave me some resources on the subject, as well a chiropractor that had helped her other clients with SPD.
Because I had let it go so long, the chiropractic treatments were intense. I ended up going 3 times per week for 3 weeks, then moved to twice per week until I delivered at 38 weeks. I don't know all the technical terms for what the chiropractor was doing, so I'll just call it magic. It was heaven. I was so pleased to have found relief and understanding of what was going on!
The chiro also recommended alternating ice and heat on the pubic joint, and stretching backwards over a birth ball, which helped with any pain flare ups. Like the previous pregnancy, I didn't have any postpartum pain related to the SPD.
My third pregnancy - the early bird gets the worm
When I found out I was pregnant the third time, I scheduled monthly chiro visits right away. As the pregnancy progressed, I started going more frequently. I still dealt with some pain in the pubic joint, but this time around it was more of a dull ache rather than the intense, burning or splitting sensation. I still had sciatic nerve issues; the chiropractic treatments didn't do anything to help those, but overall this was a MUCH more comfortable pregnancy.
Of course, I also used the tips shared in my first SPD post, particularly the fist-between-the-knees trick, and I made sure to follow the advice for laboring with SPD I mentioned in my second SPD post.
My fourth pregnancy - the joy of physical therapy!
I finally got with the program and tried out physical therapy, which was mentioned in many of the comments on my first SPD post. It was such an interesting learning experience, and so helpful, that it's going to get its own 4-part series of posts! Stay tuned for those :)
Have you experienced SPD through multiple pregnancies? Did you mention it to your care provider? Did he or she offer any suggestions for relief?