Pregnancy Diary Week 18: Pelvic Girdle Pain
Feel like you’ve been kicked in the vagina? Tada! That’s pelvic girdle pain! Thanks pregnancy. On a positive note, “pelvic pain” can be sung to the tune of the 1990s hit single “Kiss the Rain” by Billie Myers when you are doing the washing up: “Pelvic pain? Whenever you need to pee. Pelvic pain, whenever you walk for too long; if you’re hips feel twingey and achy; pelvic pain.” Ok, so the song works a little better with “quiche Lorraine, whenever you’re hungry”, but you’ve got to take the positives where you can. Pelvic pain is new for me with this pregnancy. It’s kind of like a dull ache right in the vag, interspersed with sharp stabbing pains. Fun. I am putting this down to pregnancy but it could of course be my vagina mourning the loss of a sex life, which has not been a major feature over the past few weeks. This is not through deliberate abstention, just mainly exhaustion and prioritising Line of Duty on Netflix over cheeky, evening fumbles. We will try to address this in the near future. Maybe. Anyway, I digress. Pelvic girdle pain is one of the many gifts of carrying a child and can occur at any time between 8 weeks and the very end of pregnancy. It’s also known as symphysis pubis dysfunction, or SPD, as let’s face it, symphysis pubis dysfunction is pretty hard to say at the best of times, let alone when you can’t concentrate due to shooting pains in your pink canoe. SPD is a specific type of pelvic pain that can come about due to a combination of things, one of which is the body’s natural production of a hormone called relaxin, which softens your ligaments during pregnancy to help allow your baby to pass through your pelvis. Don’t worry, this only happens when the time is right, there are no known stories of babies falling out of vaginas due to excess production of relaxin, so feel free to go about your day safe in the knowledge that they are properly wedged up there. For now. Relaxin is obviously a good thing (in terms of hormone production and taking it easy) but it can lead to discomfort if your body finds adjusting to this new stretchier state a bit difficult. This causes the pelvic joints to move unevenly and put strain on other surrounding joints, which is what my body is doing right now. It is basically asking me what the hell is happening, and rather stubbornly responding to these changes by giving me untold gip. Our bodies are pretty amazing really so we should forgive them these minor malfunctions. However, this doesn’t really help me when I have to stop in the middle of crossing the street, toddler on hip, toddler’s bag on shoulder, unnecessarily large toy in hand, due to some kind of vaginal spasm that appears to have electrical properties. “Quickly and carefully, mummy!” my son tells me in protest of me dawdling across the road. An echo of one of my many current parenting mantras. Too bloody right. The good thing is that there is lots that can help you to cope with pelvic pain. Certain exercises like pelvic floor exercises and pregnancy yoga, which includes those exercises, can really help. Similarly, pregnancy aquanatal classes, where you exercise in water (think swimming pool rather than reservoir, but who’s to say what might be on offer local to you), can enable you to strengthen your muscles whilst being supported by the water. Osteopathy, physiotherapy and acupuncture have also been found to be beneficial, as long as you go with specialists who are experienced in treating pregnant women. And then there are options such as a pelvic support belt, which can be worn under your clothes when out and about to help hold things together, so to speak. This is true physically, but mentally, other strategies might be needed. It’s also really helpful to be mindful of your body when moving around. Unlike me, try not to carry your child awkwardly, along with a multitude of possessions, and be particularly careful when getting in and out of bed or the car. It’s also good to try to keep your legs together (too late, I know). Sitting on a plastic bag in the car to help you swivel out more easily is a top tip (there are clearly multiple benefits of this during later stages of pregnancy too), as is imagining you are wearing a mini skirt and no knickers — those were the days. So, pelvic pain can be yet another thing to contend with during pregnancy but is something that can be treated and managed so that you don’t have to suffer.