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Even the most straightforward pregnancy has its quota of aches and pains. But many women also experience severe pain due to a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), which in the past has been known as Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP).
It can have a huge effect on your pregnancy as well as leave you with lasting issues. Yet most people won’t have heard of it unless they experience it themselves or know someone who has.
But what is SPD? How can it affect your pregnancy and what should you do to recover once you’ve given birth?
What Is SPD?
SPD involves the symphysis pubis joint, which you can find at the front of your pubic bone. Most people think that this bone is one piece, but it is in fact two, joined together by cartilage tissue. During pregnancy, you naturally release hormones that relax joints and ligaments. This is so that your body can adapt to accommodate a growing baby and give birth.
This loosening of the joints and ligaments in this area can cause a lot of pain in your pelvis which makes even small movements, very painful. Not everyone with SPD will experience the same effects. It can range from very mild, to being almost completely incapacitated. In very rare cases, public bones can separate completely.
In many cases, the pain subsides substantially once the baby has been born, but others may need to visit a physiotherapist or chiropractor in order to correct some of the issues.
Factors that can make SPD more likely to occur include having a large baby, gaining a lot of weight, and existing weakness in the pelvic area.
When Do Symptoms Usually Start?
You can experience SPD at any time during your pregnancy. However, relaxin, the hormone responsible is usually at its highest at the end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second. This is when most people start to feel the symptoms. It usually gets worse as the baby grows and you get bigger and further pressure is placed on the pelvis.
How Is SPD Treated?
There are a number of options for you to try if you’re experiencing SPD. Many find a pregnancy support girdle useful. Learning how to move correctly when climbing stairs, sitting, and turning over in bed can also make life easier.
In some cases, you might need to see a physio therapist or take pain medication prescribed by your doctor.
Can It Be Prevented?
In the vast majority of cases, SPD cannot be completely prevented. There are some things that you can do prior to preganancy to support your body and reduce the severity. Strengthening your legs, glutes and core can help you support your pregnancy and reduce strain. Managing weight gain can also take pressure off your pelvis and joints.
SPD can make preganancy challenging. It can help to understand how your body is being effected by hormones and weight gain. In most cases, it’s about managing the symptoms as well as possible and seeking medical help if you’re finding it diffiult to cope.