Pregnancy puts the human body through some huge physical challenges and one common joint pain in particular that affects many women is symphysis pubis dysfunction – or SPD.
Also known as ‘pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain’, SPD is caused as the joints at the front of the pelvis change shape during pregnancy and the discomfort felt with SPD is due to these joints moving unevenly, making the pelvis less stable.
The onset of SPD can begin any time from the first to third trimester and while symphysis pubis dysfunction doesn’t affect the pregnancy, it can make it more difficult to complete everyday tasks - even moving, walking and sitting can all be very painful.
If you’re suffering from SPD, don’t despair - there is support available, as well as exercises and simple home treatments that can be helpful for relieving the pain and making both movement and rest more bearable. Before starting anything, it’s advisable to speak to your midwife or doctor who may suggest a support belt, worn across the hips, which can reduce pain and make walking easier. Other women consult a chiropractor to help adjust the pubic bones.
Daily movements such as getting in and out of a car, climbing out of bed or going up and down stairs can trigger SPD-related pain. Here are some simple ways to ease those symptoms:
Sleep: Sleeping on your left side not only improves blood flow to the baby, it can also give your pelvis the support it needs. Placing a long and supportive pillow - such as the SleepiMum - between the legs, from knees to ankles, can help with the alignment of back, hips and knees, reducing the symptoms of SPD.
Going up or downstairs: Avoid extensive pelvic movements by taking the steps one at a time, or sidestepping.
Walking: To avoid uneven pressure on the pelvis, try not to carry a bag on one shoulder and walk with shorter steps to reduce pubic symphysis irritation.
Getting dressed: Make sure you are well supported while dressing by sitting down on the edge of the bed or on a chair.
Getting in or out of the car: Enter the car bottom first by turning your back to the seat and keeping the knees together as you twist round to face forwards - and do the same in reverse when getting out.
Sitting: Avoid sitting cross legged on the floor, slumping or leaning on one sit bone more than the other. Putting a pillow behind the back for support can help as can sitting on a large exercise ball.
As with anything during pregnancy, if you’re unsure, talk to your doctor or
, follow their guidance - and listen to your body.