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What's Pelvic Girdle Pain and SPD?

Your body goes through huge changes in the 40 or so weeks you’re pregnant.

And our hormones go through a rollercoaster of ups and downs creating some not-so-welcome changes. One of those can be pelvic pain, sometimes known as Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).

The name sounds a bit scary, but it’s usually nothing to worry about, apart from being a literal pain in the bum. Some level of pelvic pain is normal during pregnancy as those pesky hormones help relax your ligaments in preparation for your baby’s arrival. But if you’re struggling to move around, it hurts to get in or out of the car or turn over in bed or going up or down the stairs makes you want to weep then it could be PGP. And that means it’s time to chat to the GP or midwife.

What are PGP and SPD? 

PGP (pelvic girdle pain) is the name for a range of painful symptoms in and around your pelvis that happen when your pelvic joints become stiff or start moving unevenly. Around 1 in 5 pregnant women suffer from it.  

You’re more likely to get it if you have an old pelvic injury, a history of back pain, or a physical job. If you’ve had PGP before, you’re having multiples or overweight, then that also makes you more at risk. 

Is SPD harmful to my baby?

Nope. SPD is not harmful to your baby, but it can cause you a load of problems with things like walking and climbing stairs because of the intense pain.  

What are the symptoms of Pelvic Girdle Pain and SPD?

It depends and can vary from pretty mild to bad enough to put you on crutches. You might have PGP if you have pain over your pubic bone in the front, in your lower back, between your bum and vagina or when you open your legs. And if you’ve developed a funny walk and the stairs feel like climbing Everest, that could be a sign too. 

How do I fix it? 

Sadly there’s no quick fix. It’s a case of managing the symptoms and not aggravating your pelvis. Your midwife or doctor might refer you to see a physio and they can help with advice and exercises. They might also recommend a pelvic support belt, crutches and different ways to manage your pain. You should try and rest as much as you can, get help with household jobs that involve bending and twisting (yay no hoovering) and ditch the high heels. You might also get some relief from warm baths and acupuncture. 

If your pelvis is already a bit wobbly it’s best to avoid: 

  •       Standing on one single leg
  •       Crossing your legs
  •       Sitting on the floor
  •       Sitting or standing for a long time
  •       Lifting heavy objects

You can get more advice from the Pelvic, Obstetric & Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP) network. 

Can I have a vaginal birth? 

Yes, no reason why not but do make sure your midwife knows you have PGP/SPD.  They can assess you and make sure you don’t end up causing more damage during labour. 

For most people PGP disappears a few weeks after they give birth but do contact your GP if things don’t seem to be going back to normal. 

Found this useful? Read What are the signs I’m in labour 

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