Pregnancy | Update: Symphysis pubis dysfunction (self diagnosis)

When its more than just the regular pregnancy aches and pains

About three weeks or so ago I started feeling a bit of discomfort and pressure in my pelvic region. Now the pain is traveling down the inside of my legs. I shared this with the Hubby as its definitely a first for me. I then mentioned this to a fellow pregnant Mom and local midwife and they both suggested I discuss this with my Gynae at the next check up as it could be Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). are the signs and symptoms of SPD?

  • A sharp and sometimes overwhelming pain in the region at the front of the pubic area.
  • Stabbing, shooting, or a burning type of pain which can also be felt into the hip bones, the back, the perineum and the backs of the legs.
  • A waddling walking gait.
  • Knee pain which may extend down to the ankles and the feet. This is generally a result of alignment problems further up in the pelvis.
  • When lifting one leg in front of the other or when standing on one leg e.g. when climbing stairs, getting out of bed or twisting, the pain can be felt more acutely.
  • Often the pain is worse at night when lying on the back. Turning over in bed and lifting the legs to get out of bed can exacerbate the pain.
  • A grating, clicking or grinding noise may be heard or even felt in the region of the pubic bone.
  • Difficulty walking especially after standing still for a period of time

Does it bother me enough to use my ration of unnecessary calls to my Gynaecologist to diagnose what I suspect, nope. Does it make life a little challenging, hell yes. Is it life or death, nope. But am I able to still function and go about my day with self managing the pain – yip.

The challenging part about dealing with weird aches and pains during your pregnancy is still having to juggle all the other responsibilities. I still have kids to sort out, work to do and a household to manage. 

What causes SPD?

The pelvic bones are generally kept stable and well supported by the ligaments which surround them. During pregnancy, hormones are released which are designed to relax the joints and help to facilitate an easier birth. However, these hormones can also make the pelvic joint unstable which leads to pain and discomfort. The specific area affected in SPD is the narrowest point of the bones in the pelvic girdle which lies directly in front of the bladder. The symphysis pubis is the region at the front of your pelvis which is normally covered by pubic hair.

Another contributing factor is the changes in weight distribution which create stress on the pelvis, the spine and all the structures which support them.

What can you do to help relieve the pain?

  • Rigid or non-rigid pelvic support girdles/belts can provide a lot of relief. These help to support the bones of the pelvis back into their correct alignment. They may also need to be worn during sleep if the SPD pain is impacting on being able to sleep and stay comfortable in bed.
  • Side sleeping can be helpful as long as the abdomen and upper leg are well supported by pillows.
  • Avoid lying on the back during sex and instead, try lying on your side.
  • Be careful when getting in and out of a car, moving in bed and doing any activity which requires one leg to be lifted independently rather than two together. Squeezing the knees together when moving rather than separating them is beneficial and helps to stabilise the pelvic joint.
  • Pelvic floor exercise that focus and strengthen these muscles are generally helpful.
  • Standing tall and concentrating on improving the posture also help.
  • Use a pillow for lower back support when sitting.
  • Keep a cushion in the car for when travelling.
  • Avoid wearing high heels. This helps to reduce the strain on the lower back.
  • Avoiding sitting with the legs crossed.
  • Avoid doing exercises which require a lot of bouncing, standing on one foot or jarring.
  • Placing insulated ice packs over the tender area can help with swelling and pain.

Predisposing factors for SPD

  • Genetics,
  • Family history,
  • Personal pregnancy history,
  • Oral contraceptive use,
  • Multiparity,
  • High weight,
  • High levels of stress,
  • History of low back pain,
  • Previous pelvic or back pathology or trauma,
  • History of back or pelvic injury,
  • Lack of regular exercise (including long-distance running specifically),
  • Hypermobility,
  • Macrosomia or post-term delivery in pregnancy in labour,
  • Postpartum breast feeding
  • Neonatal developmental hip dysplasia

Ladies, in the end SPD (self – diagnosis) sucks. I would love to hear what worked for you if you’ve gone through SPD as well.

PLEASE NOTE: Following and/or participating in my blog and any tips or advice is solely your decision. I recommend checking with your OBGYN prior to following any information I share. I am very open in sharing that I am not a health care professional, just a Mom sharing her personal experience.


    • Lindsaytom

      Thank you Hun, still going to discuss it at my next appointment. Every week seems to get more intense and uncomfortable though. I have fitted a support band which seemed to help alot and taking it easy where possible. The only challenge is climbing up into our vehicles (Vito + Patrol). On the sleeping front I have my trusted preggy pillow along with 2 between my legs at night which has helped so much.

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