If you’re experiencing pain and discomfort in your pelvis, it could be SPD in pregnancy, but know that you’re not alone.
Pregnancy can come with its own unique brand of aches and pains — and it’s no surprise that your pelvis doesn’t want to be left out of the list of affected areas.
After all, it’s right in the center of the action.
The good news is that if you are experiencing SPD in pregnancy, there are ways to find relief.
We’ll take you through the ins and outs of SPD pregnancy symptoms, what causes them, and how you can give yourself some TLC.
In this article: 📝
- What is SPD in pregnancy?
- What causes SPD during pregnancy?
- When does SPD start in pregnancy?
- What does SPD feel like in pregnancy?
- How can I relieve SPD pain during pregnancy?
- Does SPD make labor more painful?
What is SPD in pregnancy?
Get ready for it because we’re about to land a mouthful of a term on you: symphysis pubis dysfunction. That’s what SPD stands for.
To be honest, we’re not fans of this term.
You’re not dysfunctioning — you’re just in pain.
That’s why its other name — pelvic girdle pain — seems to be a better option.
SPD during pregnancy comes along with a bunch of symptoms that can leave your general pelvic area more than a little tender.
So if this is where you’re at, know that you’re by no means alone.
(Head over to Peanut to join in the conversation about this and other pregnancy woes. You don’t have to do this alone.)
While it’s not harmful to your baby, SPD can be uncomfortable for you.
One of the big challenges, as this study revealed, is that you may feel pain for years to come.
Also, if you have SPD once, you’re more likely to have it in future pregnancies.
Luckily, there are ways to find relief.
Here’s what you need to know.
What causes SPD during pregnancy?
SPD in pregnancy is caused by your body being super-efficient.
To prepare for giving birth, the ligaments that keep your pelvis in alignment get super stretchy and flexible.
They know they’ve got an important task ahead of them and they want to be ready.
That’s all well and good — except your pelvic joints then have trouble staying in their usual place.
(If you’re wondering about what the symphysis pubis in the term SPD, it’s the pelvic joint in question. Its job is to keep the bones of the pelvis steady.)
The result is that the whole area is a bit less stable than it normally is.
This can feel everything from a bit uncomfortable to seriously painful — particularly when you’re trying to go about tasks like climbing stairs and getting out of cars.
So why does this happen?
The main culprit is something called relaxin, a pretty remarkable hormone that prepares your body for childbirth.
It works by relaxing the ligaments in your pelvis and softening and widening your cervix.
But sometimes, it gets a little overenthusiastic.
Because we have relaxin receptors in the joints in our pelvic area, when those levels are up, things can get a little softer and stretchier too early.
The result? You can fall out of alignment with yourself, and your body will let you know about it.
Add to that the weight of a human growing inside you and the pain and discomfort can be serious.
When does SPD start in pregnancy?
Well, like most things pregnancy-related, there’s no one way to do this — but it’s often towards the end as you’re gearing up for delivery.
Another important stat? 74% of women have SPD happen during their first pregnancy.
What does SPD feel like in pregnancy?
Everyone feels SPD differently.
You may have some mild discomfort or you may be in severe pain. It might feel like a sharp pinch or dull ache.
In serious cases, you might have difficulty walking and getting out of bed.
Sometimes just rolling over is enough to send you spinning.
In serious cases, it may feel as though your body is splitting in two.
Also, where you feel it varies from person to person.
Pain in your pubic bone is common. As is pain in your lower back.
If you hit the SPD jackpot, you might have it on both sides. Sometimes, the pain radiates through your body and you might feel it in your thighs and torso.
Because SPD is so linked to your movement, you might feel worse after you’ve been on the go for a while.
Symptoms tend to get worse as your pregnancy progresses.
🔎 Dig deeper: What to Know About Groin Pain During Pregnancy
How can I relieve SPD pain during pregnancy?
Talk to your healthcare provider to come up with a treatment plan.
Here are some options:
- Try physiotherapy. There are two ways a physiotherapist can help you when you have SPD. One is through hands-on treatments like adjustments and massage. And the other is through giving you exercises to strengthen the muscles in the area.
- Be gentle with yourself. Heavy lifting might have to wait for a few months and there’s no need to take the stairs for now. Of course, slowing down can be a challenge if you’ve already got little ones at home. Try as much as you can to be kind to yourself and rest when you need to.
- Focus on your posture. Try not to cross your legs when sitting down and keep your back straight as much as possible. When you’re getting out of bed or the car, try to keep your legs together.
- Get support. A cushion between your knees or under your ankles can really help when you’re lying down. When you’re sitting upright, supporting your lower back with a pillow can feel good.
- Buckle up. A special pelvic support belt can be really useful over this time. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether this is the right option for you.
- Use a heating pad or ice pack. While a heating pad or ice pack can help ease the pain. It’s important to not leave the heat on for too long, as it may affect your baby’s health.
- Pop a painkiller. Paracetamol is a good option when you’re pregnant. If you feel you need something stronger, talk to your doctor.
Does SPD make labor more painful?
Although it may make your pregnancy more painful, SPD doesn’t necessarily mean labor will be more painful.
What may happen is that it’s harder to open your legs because of the pain you’ve been experiencing — and this may mean you need some extra support.
It is important to let your doctor or midwife know about how you’re feeling.
That way, they can give you the appropriate advice and support that you need, every step of the way.
Moving around during labor can help, as can specific birthing positions.
Standing or kneeling on all fours might be more comfortable than lying on your back.
You may also want to try sitting upright and opening your legs.
A birthing stool may help with this. Another option? Lying on your side.
Instruments like birthing stirrups may help make the experience more comfortable for you.
One possibility is to try a birth pool. The water can help support your body and the warmth can bring pain relief.
Also, SPD, as a factor on its own, shouldn’t get in the way of you having a vaginal birth.
Talking through your birth preferences with your midwife or doctor can be a good way to figure out what you might prefer.
(Of course, things don’t always go as planned, and that’s fine too. But it can help to think about it ahead of time.)
Once you have given birth, you may need a little extra support if you’re still in pain.
You have full license to take up all the offers you get from friends and family.
Look after yourself. ❤️
💡 More from The 411:
What to Know About Your Vagina After Birth
Vaginal Discomfort During Pregnancy: All the Info
Can You Take Probiotics While Pregnant?
Nosebleeds During Pregnancy: Anything To Worry About?
Managing Anxiety During Pregnancy
Gas During Pregnancy? You’re Not Alone!
How to Take Care of Yourself During Pregnancy
Can You Use a Massage Chair During Pregnancy?
What is Lightning Crotch in Pregnancy?