Your Guide to Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and How It Can Affect Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy should be the most beautiful time in women’s life but sometimes this is just not the case.

Some women have easy, pain-free pregnancies and some have to cope with lots of different issues.

One of the common but not so recognized issues is a Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction.

If you have unexplained pain in your pelvic area during your pregnancy that might be the sign of SPD or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction is much more common than thought as so many cases go undiscovered. Only the most severe cases get medical attention, but a lot of women are struggling with pain during their entire pregnancy.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction is a separation of the pubic bone. Your pelvis has two halves and there is naturally very little gap in between them.

Image Source: Wikipedia

But sometimes, during pregnancy, the two halves are starting to separate and that is what’s causing pain. This pain is often associated with pelvic girdle pain too.

The separation is happening because of the hormone called relaxin that is naturally occurring in our bodies during pregnancy. Its role is to soften and relax our joints to make the birth easier and to prepare our body for birth.

But sometimes, too much relaxin or too much too early can cause more separation of the pubic bone than necessary.

What are the symptoms of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?

SPD is more than just a pain in the pelvic area. There are many more symptoms included in the Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. Here are the most common ones:

  • Pain in the pubic area and back pain
  • Increased pain while lifting legs  – if you notice pain while walking the stairs or lifting legs while getting into the car that can be a sign of SPD
  • Clicking sound near your pelvis – gas, and fluids can build up causing clicking sounds when the pressure is released from some movements
  • Pain that gets worse while rolling over – because of the misbalanced pelvic it is hard to achieve balance and this movement will be painful
  • Pain while getting out of bed
  • Sciatica
  • Pain when standing or walking for a prolonged period of time
  • Pain while doing a certain movement
  • Pain increases in the evening after all day of activity

If you think you have SPD you can talk to your doctor or midwife.

If you wish so, they can do an ultrasound to check the gap between your bones and to see is it normal or not. But, most women will have a clear picture of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction even without the ultrasound.

Some women can have a bigger chance of developing SPD during pregnancy.

Here are some risk factors that can increase your chances of developing a Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. But even if you don’t have any of them it is still possible to get SPD.

  • Increased weight gain during pregnancy
  • Having large baby or twins and triplets
  • Having multiple pregnancies in a short period of time
  • Poor posture and weak pelvic and core muscles
  • History of trauma or injury to the pelvis
  • Starting your period earlier than 11 years

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Can Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction have an effect on your birth?

In most cases, SPD won’t have an effect on your birth and you’ll be able to have a vaginal birth with no issues.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction will likely go away after you give birth.

This is because after birth your body stops producing large amounts of hormone relaxin and your pain should ease. Your pubic bone will shrink to a normal position during your postpartum period and the pain should stop.

How to help yourself to ease the pain?

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction can be a very painful condition that not a lot of doctors give the attention it deserves.

The pain can make your entire pregnancy a painful experience. There are things you can do to help yourself during pregnancy.

There are things you shouldn’t be doing during your pregnancy if you have Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction because this can make the pain worse and there are things that can help you with the pain.

Here is a guide on how to help yourself if you are suffering from Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction during pregnancy.

  • Take things slowly and make sure you get enough rest during the day. Don’t force yourself through the pain. Find someone to help you with the housework
  • Don’t lift heavy objects like shopping bags or your toddler
  • Don’t push heavyweights like a shopping cart
  • Don’t carry objects only in one hand
  • Don’t put weight only on one side and don’t stand on one leg – while dressing sit on the bed, don’t stand
  • Avoid prolonged standing and walking
  • Don’t cross your legs
  • Keep your legs together. When entering the car or getting out of the bed. Try to roll out with your legs together. This way you are putting less pressure on your pubic bones.
  • Sleep on the side. The reason is the same. You want to take the pressure out of the bones. Keep a pillow in between your knees and ankles so you keep legs in an even position.
  • Use pillows to support your back while sitting. Use them for sleeping too. You can use normal pillows or big maternity pillows to give you even better support.
  • Wear comfortable flat shoes. Don’t walk in heels or uncomfortable shoes.
  • Practice proper posture. This is very important as with right posture the pressure is lower in your pubic bones and you are using the right muscles for movement.
  • Wear a pregnancy belt. Wear it during the day and take it off for sleeping. This can ease the pain as the belt is keeping your bones together.
  • Avoid squatting. Deep squats can make Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction worse as they put too much pressure on your bones.
  • Take additional magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is common in pregnancy and magnesium is important in relaxing muscles and easing the pain. Take magnesium regularly. Try topical magnesium and rub it every evening onto your pelvic area.
  • Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and back muscles. Strong pelvic and back muscles are important for stabilizing your pelvic bones.

For additional help and ease your pain during pregnancy you can try acupuncture, chiropractic or osteopaths treatments. These methods can also be effective in easing pain during pregnancy.

If you are worried and it seems nothing is helping talk to your doctor or midwife. Ask for the physical therapist referral as this can often help when nothing else does.

Even the pain caused by Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction can often be hard to handle, it doesn’t last forever and it will go away when you give birth.

For your birth, look for the water birth as an option as water is beneficial for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction because the pressure on the bones is lower in the water.

Try to avoid epidurals as they can make your SPD worse because they are loosening your bones even more and sometimes they are loosened too much.

With some adjustments, you can manage your Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and ease the pain you are feeling so don’t panic.

Renata Sanko
Certified personal trainer with years spent on education and research on how to help women heal their body after birth. I have dedicated myself to help other women to regain and heal their body after having a baby...

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