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During two of my pregnancies, I developed severe Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). I was told there was nothing I could do to prevent spd during pregnancy.
I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. I ended up using a cane the last couple months of my last pregnancy because I could not always walk on my own.
What Is SPD During Pregnancy?
Symphysis pubis dysfunction is a condition that many women develop during pregnancy. To understand what it is and why it happens, it helps to understand the physiology of your pelvic area.
Your pelvis is made up of two pubic bones that meet in the front and are connected together by a firm joint called the symphysis pubis. The joint connecting them is made up of strong, dense tissues (ligaments).
While you’re pregnant, your body produces different hormones to help your baby grow and to prepare your body for birth.
One of the hormones produced, relaxin, softens the ligaments in your pelvic area so that, when it’s time, your baby can be born.
If your pelvic muscles and joints are already weak when you become pregnant, they may become unstable when your body starts producing relaxin.
As your baby grows and you both gain more weight, additional pressure is put on your already unstable symphysis pubis joint. This lead to extreme pain and discomfort that gets steadily worse throughout your pregnancy.
Do I Have SPD? What are the Symptoms of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?
There are quite a few symptoms that come with SPD. One symptom that stood out, and helped me to diagnose what I had, was a strange clicking sensation in my pelvic area with any movement that requires separation of your legs.
- Getting out of bed in the morning.
- Getting dressed
- Putting your shoes on
- Picking up something off the floor
- Getting in and out of the car
- Walking up/down stairs.
- Shifting your position while sitting or sleeping
- Scooting things with one foot (An open drawer, a toy on the floor)
Anything that requires you to separate your legs is extremely painful and, as I did any of them, I felt that strange clicking sensation. Other symptoms are:
- Lower back pain
- An unstable feeling in your hips and pelvic area
- Pelvic pain that makes it difficult to sleep and get comfortable at night
- Pain between your legs or down the inside of your thighs
- Pelvic pain in the symphysis pubis joint that is the very worst in the morning when you first get out of bed. You might find you literally can’t walk without support when you first wake up until everything moves somewhat stably back into place.
My First Experience with SPD
The first time I had SPD, it hit me out of nowhere. About halfway through my pregnancy, I started to develop the pelvic pain described above. The further I got, the more severe the pain became. It got so bad, I didn’t want to go anywhere.
The thought of getting out of bed in the morning and the pain I knew was coming scared me. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life.
At first, I refused to buy a cane because I felt like it would be admitting defeat. I was in my twenties; I shouldn’t need a cane to get around
Instead, I resorted to hanging onto walls, dressers and anything else around me until everything in my pelvic area stabilized enough that I could lift my legs to walk (or at least shuffle from room to room).
I had no idea what was happening to me, but I’d been pregnant before. During those previous pregnancies, I’d never experienced anything like the pain I was having.
Something was wrong, and I was determined to find out what.
I spent days researching my symptoms online. When I came across a medical website describing symphysis pubis dysfunction, it fit what I was experiencing to a tee.
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Now That I Knew the Problem There Had to be a Solution…Right?
I thought that when I figured out what was wrong, I’d be able to reverse it or help it heal. Whatever it took to stop the pain I was experiencing. To my dismay, all the resources I found, simply listed ways to manage the pain.
Yes, the things they suggested helped, but I still needed a cane to walk in the morning.
Most of the recommendations I found were to avoid movements that could aggravate the condition. Seeing the list above, you’ll know you can’t avoid a lot of them.
You have to get out of bed in the morning and get dressed. Most women can’t just stop going working; we still have to make a living.
I’ve also found that when you have SPD, it gets several times worse if you’re inactive and sitting all the time. It feels like a lose-lose situation. If you try to get through your day as you normally would, every movement is painful. If you don’t exercise and move around, the pain is tenfold.
So How Can You Prevent SPD During Pregnancy?
Last year we found out that we were pregnant again. I was excited but, at the same time, scared.
I wondered how I’d be able to take care of my boys if I developed SPD again.
During my previous pregnancy, I’d taken steps to treat it and noticed that some of the things were actually helping.
My SPD was more severe when I was six months pregnant than when I was 8-9 months pregnant. It actually started getting better towards the end instead of worse like it had the first time I had it.
So what did I do that helped?
The Best Way to Prevent SPD is the Right Kind of Exercise, And Start Early!
SPD is a result of weakened pelvic muscles and joints with the combination of the relaxin hormone that loosens up the symphysis pubis joint.
Knowing this, I hoped that regular pelvic workouts mixed with brisk walks a couple times a week would help to keep everything strong and stable. Maybe, if I did this, my pelvic joint would be strong enough to support my growing baby.
I had no doubt these focused workouts would help but, I wasn’t sure how much of a difference it could really make.
My goal was 5-6 workouts a week and I stuck to my workout schedule as consistently as I could.
Being a mom of four boys, I had nights where I was up with sick kids or I had to work late. Other nights, I just wasn’t able to sleep for one reason or another.
When this happened, I wasn’t always able to get my workout in. I noticed that any time I missed more than 3-4 days at a time, the weakness in my pelvic area started up. I could feel the beginning stages of SPD setting in.
That is all it took to motivate me to get back on schedule. I still slip up a couple times (I am a busy mom after all) but overall, I’ve been fairly consistent with my workouts. Throughout all of it, I’ve still been waiting for the pain and discomfort from SPD to set in, but it has not.
I developed SPD as early as 16 weeks during my previous pregnancies and it steadily grew worse.
This time, I hit 25 weeks and I felt great! I hit 32 weeks and still felt great. 39 weeks and still none of the pain I’ve experienced in the past due to SPD has set in and we’ll be welcoming our baby girl any day now!
I Didn’t Think it Was Possible to Prevent SPD
It’s still hard for me to believe sometimes. In the morning, I’m able to jump out of bed. There is no pelvic pain at all. I can get dressed, get ready to go, get in and out of the car. Everything that would have been extremely uncomfortable and painful in past pregnancies, I can do with no discomfort.
It is all due to these 3 steps I’ve taken to prevent it.
- A consistent home schedule so I can get to bed on time and I’m not too tired for my workouts.
- Brisk walks for 1-2 miles at least three or four times a week. Sometimes the walk is at a slight incline or quicker pace to change it up.
- Most importantly, pelvic floor workouts and inner abdominal exercises designed to strengthen your entire pelvic area! I do these at least five times a week. I don’t spend a whole lot of time on them (sometimes only 10-15 minutes a session), but I make sure they’re a regular part of my day.
When doing pelvic workouts, it’s important to make sure you do them right! Your breathing needs to be coordinated with your movements with every exercise you do.
If they aren’t done correctly, the exercises won’t do much, if anything, to strengthen your pelvic area.
To help you get started, here are some great pelvic floor exercises. (These are some of my favorite ones that I use regularly.)
There’s also an awesome postpartum workout program (that can also be used when you’re pregnant) I’ve used several times since my third son was born.
I have not found anything that does as good of a job building up your pelvic floor and your inner abdominals. Especially after a baby!
You can use it anytime you want and you have access to a team dedicated to helping postpartum mothers recover after their baby. It’s helped me with diastasis recti, spd, postpartum recovery and so much more.
Are you, or someone you know, experiencing SPD during your pregnancy? Have you had it in the past? Let me know by leaivng a comment below. I do answer all of them!
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