My second pregnancy was rough on me. My morning sickness was so awful I could barely get myself off the couch, let alone function with my daily life. I had Prodromal Labor at the end (basically I was in labor for a whole month before I finally had him) that took me to labor and delivery 6 times before I finally gave birth. Baby was breech, leading to scheduling a c-section that got cancelled on the operating table thanks to a baby who turned the night before…you name it this baby gave it to me.
I started getting a really painful feeling in my legs about halfway through my pregnancy and told my OB about it. I explained to him that this pain win my legs and made it near impossible to walk, move, even put on my pants without lying down. Lifting one leg became excruciating and rolling over in bed impossible. I think I must have worded things wrong though, because he told me the only leg pain he knew of in pregnancy was attributed to a form of cancer…something he had only seen once in his almost 30 years of obstetrics. We agreed that I would come back and talk about it again if it persisted. Soon after, I was at a friend’s house complaining to her about this weird pain I was having, and feeling like a crazy woman for having yet ANOTHER problem with my pregnancy. I told her that my legs were hurting really bad, something I hadn’t experienced in my first pregnancy. When I went into detail on WHERE it was hurting and what made it hurt, she told me I should ask my Dr specifically about having what is loosely called a separated pelvis.
I went home and consulted Dr Google (like all of us do at one time or another) and found out my friend was on to something. The medical term for what was going on with me was Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), but separated pelvis describes it best to the layman.
Image from PregMed.org
SPD is a medical condition in pregnancy where basically the hormone Relaxin (meant to help your ligaments stretch to grow and deliver baby) affects your pelvis where it connects at the bottom too early. The ligaments relax too much and result in the pelvis “separating” anywhere from 1mm to 9mm! YOWZA. Usually, your pelvis separates for delivery of baby, but if it happens early you are stuck with a very painful situation like me.
When I brought this to my Dr, he and I went over the specifics of my symptoms and agreed that that’s exactly what I was suffering from. When he explained the condition to a med student who was shadowing him, his words were “Basically, if we were to take an X-Ray of her pelvis, it would look broken.” GREAT! Well, at least I had an answer! Cool! Let’s fix it!
Not so fast.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). I had expected a quick fix, and my doctor told me that it was with me till the baby came out (or longer!). There are, however tons of things you can do to calm the pain or prevent it from getting out of control.
This is so important! Take breaks when you can and try not to overdo it. I hurt the most after trying to do too much, but I found the “sweet spot” of balance that worked for me and my pain management.
Take A Bath
I don’t know if this is what a Dr would necessarily prescribe, but it helped me! Soak in a warm bath, use towels under your bottom to cushion the seating if needed. I did this nightly and it really helped my pain.
Buy A Pelvic Support Belt
(See Above Image) This works for some moms, doesn’t for others. They’re only about $30 at baby stores and it worked for me on my bad days, so it’s worth a try!
Ice Your Lady Parts
Stick an ice pack down there and sit on it…I mean it. Not only will this help with the pain, but also help with any swelling you might be going through down there…which is no fun either.
Keep Those Legs Together
Whatever you do, try to remember that keeping your legs together is best. Rolling over in bed, getting up from the couch, in and out of the car etc should all be done with your knees together. Moving one leg away from the other makes things worse.
Sit Down to Dress
This kind of goes along with the keeping your legs together thing. Lifting one leg to get it into your underwear or pants will be so painful. Try sitting down or laying down for more comfort.
Don’t Walk Too Much
This is when I would see the pain at it’s worst. Walking was terrible. Limit your walking if possible, and make sure to take sitting breaks when needed.
Sit On Soft Surfaces
I brought pillows everywhere. If there wasn’t a soft sitting space, I would sit on the pillow. Ain’t no shame here.
Sleep With A Pillow Between Your Legs
Sleeping with a pillow between your knees will help keep your pelvis aligned. You may still wake up in some pain, but I assure you it will be less than without the pillow.
Use Pillows To Support Your Lower Back When Sitting
The better your posture, the less pain you will feel.
Use Pillows Under Your Thighs/Knees When Laying Down
This is another one that I found helpful…not a Dr’s suggestion. When I would lay down or sit with my legs up on the couch, I would use a big couch cushion under my thighs and it felt almost normal!
Sleep At An Incline
If you are having way too much pain when you wake up, try sleeping in a recliner chair or on the couch propped up with pillows. It helps so so much!
Don’t Cross Your Legs
Another one with your legs. Keeping the legs together is good, but crossing them is just TOO close. you will regret crossing them for days. Trust Me.
Talk To Your Dr About Physiotherapy, Acupuncture or Chiropractic Treatments
Ask your OB or Midwife if they feel any of these options could help you. I had Chiropractic adjustments the last month of my pregnancy to try and flip my breech baby as well as relieve the pain of SPD and it did relieve it for a day or two at a time and I would have to go back. It’s a more expensive option, but may be well worth it for you!
Use Crutches Or A Cane
If the pain is bad enough, using crutches or a cane can really help take the pressure off that pelvis to help you get around as needed!
I am pleased to say that my SPD went away immediately after birth. I felt like a free woman! For others, it can take a few months and some even need therapy to help their pelvis back into place. Take it one day at a time and see what you need once baby is here.
Unfortunately, pregnancy number three has brought it on for me again. I am dealing with it on a much more painful level, but thankfully I have great support and understanding friends and family who help me around the house and with my two kids.
*This article is not meant to be mistaken for medical advice. Please consult your Dr before trying anything mentioned above.