In my first three pregnancies, I never experienced Pelvic Girdle Pain but it struck during my fourth one last year. It started around the 24th week and got progressively worse until I gave birth. I could barely roll over without screaming in pain and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it through labor. I hadn’t heard of Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) before, let alone the subcategory that I had, Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).
When I started reading up on it, I discovered that it can get so bad for some women that they have to use crutches or a wheelchair just to get around. A week or two before I delivered, I saw my chiropractor and, after two adjustments, I felt good enough to face labor and, fortunately, it all turned out well. I saw him twice after the birth and the symptoms went away. I thought I’d never have to think about it again but I was wrong!
I’m currently expecting twins and, since my baby is just 8 months old, there clearly wasn’t a year between my pregnancies. I think that, combined with the fact that it’s multiples, has caused my SPD to come back with vengeance. I felt my first twinge at just 12 week and by 18 weeks, it was as bad as it was at 37 weeks last time. A few weeks ago, my friend, Stephanie Quinby of RVA Massage and Wellness, tried to explain that I needed to strengthen my inner thighs. She gave me instructions but I think my pregnant brain failed to register most of what she said. I tried the exercises but they didn’t work.
Last week, the pain peaked and I knew I couldn’t take it anymore. I called my chiropractor and he was out of town. I had someone work on my hips and it did nothing for the pain (although, my hips felt amazing!). I finally decided to Google “Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction Exercises” and I found a Youtube video (scroll to the bottom of this post to watch it!) that changed my world! Finally, the instructions Stephanie gave me made sense. I grabbed my yoga block and prayed that I’d find some relief – and I did!
After watching the Doula’s video, I modified what she did based on what Stephanie said. While laying on my back (yes, it’s probably okay to lay on your back for just two minutes but, of course, check with your healthcare provider first!), I place the narrowest width of my yoga block between my knees (the width of a fist in the video). I squeeze my knees together and hold it for about 30 seconds. It’s incredible how much you will feel this. I knew right away that this was going to help me because I could feel how weak my inner thighs were!
Next, I rotate my yoga block so that the flat front side of it is facing me (the width of two fists in the video). Please excuse the holes all over mine – my cat, Anakin, clearly enjoys beating this thing up! Again, I immediately felt the difference and noticed how shaky and loose the muscles in my inner thigh felt as I squeezed and held this position for 30 seconds.
Finally, I but the yoga block length-wise (the width of a forearm in the video) between my knees. By far, this was the most challenging but, in just a few short days, has become my favorite width of the three. I can really feel my thighs working and it feels really good. I’ve learned to release tension in my hips and buttocks area as I do this and it feels amazing!
Pelvic Girdle Pain
WebMD explains that the pelvic girdle is a bony arched structure in the hip area that supports our legs. It includes the symphisis pubis joint, hip joint, coccyx, sacrum and sacroiliac joint. When there is a mechanical issue in these areas, pain occurs. Of course, pregnant women are more prone to this because the hormone relaxin, along with other hormones, case the ligaments to (as the name suggests) relax which can result in instability in the joints. This leads to serious discomfort in one in 35 women!
Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction
This subcategory of Pelvic Girdle Pain affects just about one in 300 pregnancies which makes me feel oh soooooo lucky! Sigh. This condition, according to What to Expect, occurs when the ligaments to keep your pelvic bone aligned become stretchy and relaxed too soon before birth which can lead to joint instability and pain.
Signs of PGP and SPD
- Pain in pubic area that sometimes radiates to upper thighs and perineum
- Difficulty walking
- Activities that involve lifting one leg at a time or spreading legs (getting in and out of bed or car, climbing stairs, turning over in bed)
Other Ways to Manage PGP and SPD
- Wear a pelvic support belt
- Do Kegels and pelvic tilts
- Physical Therapy
- Avoid triggers
Have you been dealing with PGP/SPD? What has worked or not worked for you? If you are suffering, it’s worth checking out this great video by Ariana Horning. You can follow her instructions or try my modifications above. Good luck and, when the going gets tough, remember how worth it this will all be when you see your baby!