Excercise After a Baby, Pregnancy, Your Post Baby Body

3 Ways I Was Able to Prevent SPD During Pregnancy

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prevent spd during pregnancyDuring 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.

Related Post: 8 Easy Ways to Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy

spd during 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.need a cane during pregnancy

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.

  1. A consistent home schedule so I can get to bed on time and I’m not too tired for my workouts.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Related Post: My Baby was Born Months Ago, Why do I Still Look Pregnant?


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!

-Julie

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20 thoughts on “3 Ways I Was Able to Prevent SPD During Pregnancy

  1. Loved your article about this topic! I noticed some of these symptoms with some of my pregnancies (pelvic pain that is very bad in the morning and the unstable feeling with my hips). Could this mean it is the beginning of SPD or is it something else?

    1. If your hips are starting to feel unstable, it is very possible that SPD is setting in. Especially if it’s the worst in the mornings.
      How far are you? and is this your first pregnancy?

      If it is SPD, it’ll only get worse as your pregnancy progresses. Unless you’re actively doing things to prevent it. It doesn’t take a whole lot and the difference these 3 steps have made for me is just amazing!

  2. We’ve got 3 kids of our own, and I saw firsthand the numerous “normal” episodes of pain and discomfort my wife went through, not to mention the births themselves. Your post just reminded me how many variables are involved in a pregnancy and birth.

    I particularly like the preventive steps you propose, particularly the first one: “a consistent home schedule so I can get to bed on time and I’m not too tired for my workouts.” A good schedule is so important for every area of life!

    Is there any way to determine beforehand if a woman could be susceptible to SPD?

    Thanks again for posting, and all the best,

    Norman

    1. I don’t know if there’s any way to determine beforehand if a woman is going to develop SPD during their pregnancy.

      The hard part is, most people don’t know what it is until they go through it themselves. They don’t even know what signs to look for.
      If they did, then yes they could diagnose it early on before it starts getting too painful.

      The best way to prevent it all around is to keep that consistent schedule and to exercise regularly (as long as your doctor has given you the all clear!)
      -Julie

  3. I wish I would of read this 7 years ago! With my daughter I had so much pain and even tried wearing a brace to help my back and support my stomach but I never found any relief. I ended up having to quit working because everything I did caused pain! Now I know that any of my friends who may be experiencing pain to read this article and do workouts!!  

    1. I’m sorry it was so hard on you. It really can make it almost impossible to get up and go to work or do anything until your baby is born.
      SPD is really painful and I’ve heard of some mothers being in a wheelchair the last month or two of their pregnancy because it gets so bad.

      I never got a wheelchair myself but I did have to use a walking cane every morning for the last two months of my last pregnancy.

      This time around, I was more worried about developing SPD again than anything else. I’ve been waiting for it to start but at 33 weeks there is still no pain. It’s been incredible! I wrote this post hoping to let other moms know there is a way to avoid it and these 3 things are what I’ve been doing.

      I wish I had known this when I had my last two boys!

      Thank you for reading and I wish you all the best!
      -Julie

  4. Went through this with 3 pregnancies. My SPD was so bad with my last pregnancy my husband decided he wanted to be done with having kids.
    We are trying to conceive now and I’m doing everything I can do to at least make it manageable.
    Thanks for the tips. Hopefully I will be a pain free pregnancy this time around.

    1. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that 🙁 When I found out I was pregnant with our last baby, I was so scared that I’d have SPD again but, because of the things I mentioned above, it never got close to how bad things were with my boys. I actually felt great the entire pregnancy until the end when my baby was ready to be born. It was incredible and one of my easiest pregnancies!

      I wish you and your family the very best and I hope that with these tips you can enjoy your next pregnancy without having to worry about SPD

      -Julie

      1. I appreciate this article so much, especially as I am currently suffering from SPD and varicose veins, which have impacted my quality of life immensely. I am on my second pregnancy (32 weeks), and noticed the symptoms before 20 weeks (I had SPD with my first but towards the end) but with my physically demanding job and taking care of a toddler, they got bad really fast. I was in denial and being a super active and go go go person, I didn’t want to accept this was happening. I had to go off work eventually, because it was so painful and I was just barely making it through my day. Now I am doing massage, chiro, and seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist once a week and it seems to be helping a lot! I am also trying to rest more and avoid doing anything to aggravate it. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible! I recently started wearing the V2 pelvic support belt and would HIGHLY recommend it! It has helped with that feeling you get when you first wake up or get up from sitting… the unbearable pain has subsided when wearing it and it also helps with the feeling like everything is going to “fall out!”
        There isn’t much research and support on SPD and you really have to be proactive and do the research yourself. I wish more people were aware and sympathetic towards it … Thank you for being an advocate for women and for sharing your experiences. It’s so important to know there are others who truly understand as I have no friends or family who have experienced this.
        One thing I really enjoyed reading was that you have had relief in future pregnancies. I am not sure if I want to have more, but feeling like the choice is not up to me is so upsetting. Even my midwife keeps telling me that it will be more painful with a third, and my husband isn’t sure if he wants more but after this experience is almost certain. Again, I am not sure if I want a third but thinking this could be my last because of spd is painful and I’m also concerned of how it will be postpartum… anyways I just thought I would share my experience and would love to hear your thoughts.

        1. Hi Jennifer,

          I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through this. I know how you feel. I wondered too if I wanted more kids and how I could ever get through another pregnancy with SPD.
          Using these in my pregnancies that came after, I did so much better. The difference they made was incredible! I still had some bad days, but my worst day on my 5th pregnancy was better than my best days during my 3rd pregnancy. I never once got to where I needed to use my cane.

          -Julie

  5. Thanks for the great article! This is my second pregnancy and I had none of these issues with my first. I’m now in fairly constant pain or discomfort at 19 weeks. My support belt is helping but doesn’t make it go away entirely. When I do much walking at all, it starts to hurt really bad. Will starting a walking program now help or is it too late? Will the pelvic exercises help it get better now?

    1. Hi Lexa,

      I’m so glad you posted your question because no it is not too late to start a walking program. I would highly, strongly, recommend it. I can’t emphasize enough how strongly I’d encourage you to put together and follow a workout routine that includes walking and pelvic exercises 3-5 times a week. If your pregnancy goes how mine did, the pain you’re experiencing now is going to increase by several times until you reach the end of your pregnancy. I really couldn’t get around the last few months of my pregnancies with SPD without a cane or using dressers, walls, and everything I could reach to support myself. I was in constant pain and I woke up every morning scared for the day to come, unsure how much longer I could keep going that way.

      I can’t express how scared it made me that I, in my 20s, had to use a cane to walk because I couldn’t lift my feet off the floor. I’ve heard of some mothers who end up in a wheelchair the last part of their pregnancy because it gets so bad.

      I know the walking hurts and is extremely painful, but I always found that if I could push through the first 5-10 minutes of the walk, it started getting better. My walks usually lasted 20-30 minutes and, by the time I was done, I always felt so so much better than I had when I started. On its own, just walking does help but, you really need the pelvic exercises I mentioned above. These will help to strengthen your pelvic area and rebuild the muscle in that area better than just walking can.

      I’d highly recommend this program (I still use it today for my pelvic workouts even though I’m not pregnant). It’ll show you how to coordinate your breathing with the exercises in the manner that I described above.
      It is a paid program though. If you’d like to try something free, these pelvic exercises are my go-to ones when I’m not using the paid program.

      An interesting side note/fun fact is it looks like Kate Middleton used the same program to get back into shape after her third child was born as well. I thought that was pretty cool 🙂
      SPD and Diastasis Recti are things that many mothers experience during/as a result of multiple pregnancies and it takes a different approach to exercise/recovery to heal these conditions. This pre & postpartum recovery program is what I’ve been using and I’m very happy with it!

      -Julie

  6. Hi Julie
    This is giving me hope – as someone who suffered with very severe SPD in my first pregnancy in now terrified of it striking this time round. Only concern is the pelvic floor exercise link and the post baby exercise seems to be the same page? Are they both ok for during pregnancy?

    1. Hi Tara,

      Yes, they are the same link and are ok during pregnancy. During pregnancy and immediately afterward, you want to focus heavily on rebuilding and/or strengthening your pelvic muscles. I use the same program and exercises for both with modifications if they’re needed.

      -Julie

  7. Hi! I’m on my 3rd pregnancy with spd!😫 With my 1st pregnancy it started maybe the last 2 weeks of caring my baby…? The next pregnancy it started around 30weeks and by the end was quite unbearable. When I got pregnant with my 3rd I was scared and wondering how will I deal if I have it again?! It started at 16weeks and I’ve had it ever since. I am 36 weeks & barely doing the minimum and sometimes even that and yes! I dread bedtime and when I wake up needing to turn over in bed I want to get frantic. My goal has been to find something to help with this and I’m determined to find something to help when I’m not pregnant to strengthen those muscles and to keep them strengthened when I go into my next pregnancy altho we have about decided with this one that it would have to be the last because my husband is scared I’m ruining myself! It feels like it at this point but I tell myself it will all be better as soon as this baby is out!! My question…can I do all these workouts/walking now still?! 36weeks & in sooo much pain I’m ready for a cane or wheelchair!! I’m 26 and haven’t let myself go to that extent because I’m too young, ya kno!😉🤭 I hope finding this will be my answer to prayer for healing!!❤

    1. Hi Joanna,

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I know exactly how you feel and remember dreading all of that with my pregnancies.
      I do think these workouts will still help, even at this late stage. It will be painful to start with each time, but it gets better quickly and makes the rest of your day so much easier!

      I wish you the very best. You’re so close to being done!

      If you have any future pregnancies, I strongly urge you to use these from the beginning! It does work! I did have to use a cane on my 4th pregnancy but with my 5th (my last one), I didn’t.
      I felt so much better and was able to do more than I’d ever done when I had SPD

      -Julie

  8. Hi, this is my first pregnancy and i have all the symptoms that you’ve mentioned but i’m not 100% sure that i have SPD or no because of covid19 i’m not able to go to a doctor 🙁 without a doctor’s recommendation should i do pelvic floor exercises which i find on internet?

    1. Hi Lucy,
      Yes! Even without seeing a doctor, if you have these symptoms, I would highly recommend using pelvic floor exercises. They will help to strengthen your body and you will feel a lot better. They may not make your symptoms go away completely but, as long as you’re using proper form and doing the exercises right, they will help you.
      I really liked the MuTu system referenced above because it doesn’t take a lot of time out of my day, the guidance is great, and the exercises help so much.

      I’m sorry to hear, you’re experiencing this. Just know you aren’t alone and there is something you can do about it now!
      -Julie

  9. Hi. I’m on my 3rd pregnancy and have Spd. In my experience, you cannot prevent Spd, it’s just luck of the draw. Spd is caused by overproduction of the hormone relaxin, and no amount of “preventative” exercise or scheduling is going to tell your body how much relaxin to produce. I was very fit for my 1st pregnancy and no Spd. My second pregnancy I had no Spd but no consistent exercise regime either. 3rd pregnancy began with me at peak fitness and by 20 weeks I could no longer walk for more than a few minutes. My days quickly became increasingly immobile, which has been mentally very challenging to go from being very active to nothing.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that. I know everybody’s experience is different. I’ve found that these things definitely make a difference for me and on my 4th pregnancy I went from needing a cane to get around to being almost back to normal by following these steps.

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