Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), also referred to as pelvic girdle pain, is a common, although very uncomfortable, pregnancy-related condition. Here’s how to spot the signs.
“Hormones in pregnancy are designed to help loosen your ligaments and make it easier for your baby’s head to get through”, explains GP, Dr Sarah Jarvis. “In some women, this loosening process allows the joints to move when you do, causing pain that can be severe”, she says.
Typically, SPD symptoms crop up mid-way through pregnancy, although some mums-to-be can feel the joint discomfort sooner. Telltale signs are simple to recognise: if you experience pain when lifting one leg or moving your legs apart—including any activity that requires these movements, like climbing stairs—there’s a chance you may have SPD, and please see a healthcare professional. You might also find the pain increases the longer you walk, with audible pelvic joint clicking with each step.
The degree of severity varies with each pregnancy; the prenatal health of your joints, the baby’s increasing weight, and your weight, all have an effect on how the condition manifests.
If you find SPD is making getting around (and getting sleep!) particularly difficult, a physiotherapist can help with pelvic strengthening exercises. You might also be given a pelvic support belt—or crutches if it’s especially severe.
The home-care is all about balance; avoid heavy-lifting, twisting movements, and over-exertion in general. But do keep yourself active, as inactivity can make the problem worse. Finally, when you sleep, put a pillow between your legs to relieve pressure.