Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) is one of those not-so-great symptoms of pregnancy.
Not every woman has Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction during pregnancy, but those who do are usually very aware of it. I never had SPD with my first, but with this baby it has been going on since about week 24.
Basically Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction is when the symphysis pubis is being pulled and that pulling is causing pain.
Often, women feel it when they’re walking (I know I do!). The best way I know how to describe it, is feeling like the front of the pelvis is pulling apart.
It’s believed that the hormone relaxin, which helps prepare the body for birth by allowing the pelvis to open more, is the culprit.
After birth, when relaxin levels drop, women usually find that this pain goes away without any additional intervention or help.
I think the MuTu System describes the what/how of SPD very well.
But, it hurts now. So, what’s a pregnant girl with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction to do?
There are a few options.
- First off, do Kegels and pelvic tilts. This helps the muscles of the pelvis to provide support.
- Avoid movement that triggers the pain. For example, when getting out of the car, don’t pull your legs apart to exit. Carefully twist in your seat so that your legs go out of the car door at the same time. MuTu System has a great list of how to minimize the pain of SPD during everyday activities. As your muscles strengthen/lengthen (see below), these triggers should happen less often.
- Do some self-myofascial release (aka foam roll). Tense muscles can cause torquing on the pelvic floor. A good Certified Massage Therapist can help a lot too. Continue to do self-myofascial release, even if you see a CMT, to help combat the chronic effects of our society’s way of living (ie, sitting).
- Walk. The benefits of walking can’t be understated. I noticed a huge difference in my Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction with regular walking. And when I sit for long periods of time, I can feel those muscles have tensed up again and are starting to pull. (You can read more about the benefits of walking for your pelvic floor by looking at the link in the self-myofascial release tip.)
- Do strengthening exercises. Birth Boot Camp’s exercises are wonderfully restorative and functional. (Just as a side note, you’ll get more exercises with the classes you sign up for. These are basics/foundation exercises.) MuTu System has a great list of pregnancy exercises to help SPD. Several of the exercises listed in MuTu’s article are the same as Birth Boot Camp’s, but Birth Boot Camp provides visuals, so you may find that helpful. Important Note: You must, must, must lengthen (and relax) what you strengthen. Tight muscles are not going to help with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction – they are going to worsen it. So make sure you pair strengthening with myofascial release, yoga, etc. For me personally, my SPD calmed down quite a bit if I did myofascial release every night and strengthening exercises every other night.)
- Let your pelvic floor relax! A great example something of causing more tension in your pelvic floor is constipation. Ease constipation with increasing fluids, eating more fruits/veggies, and using something like a Squatty Potty to making “going” easier. Another great example of a pelvic-floor-tension causer (is that a word?) is overall tension or stress. It’s not unusual for people to hold stress in their abs and butt. Use guided relaxation daily and make it a point to check in on your core and glutes throughout the day. If they are tight or tense, make a point to reeelllaaax.
- Also, consider seeing a chiropractor. A good chiropractor can help align the pelvis to reduce pain. Check out these tips on finding a chiropractor.
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction can be so tough, and so frustrating.
Talk with your care provider and apply these changes as appropriate. I sincerely hope you see changes soon!
If you’ve experienced SPD, leave a comment describing what helped you!