In last month's blog, I mentioned (quite emphatically) that I did not enjoy my pregnancy. One of the main reasons for this was SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction).
I am sure many of you reading this can relate as during my pregnancy I learnt that I was far from the only one that had suffered from agonising hip pain.
I wanted to share this as I felt relieved when I spoke about it with other mums and I hope this will help you to, even if it's only to know you’re not alone.
What is SPD? Well, for one, it is very painful hips.
The pain started around week 18 of my pregnancy and, at first, I believed it was down to swimming.
When I became pregnant I wanted to make sure that I stayed fit; once my morning sickness wore off, I took up swimming as that seemed to be the activity everyone recommends.
However, while swimming wasn’t what caused my hip pain, it had in fact exacerbated it.
When everyone had said “oh yes go swimming, very good when you’re pregnant” no-one had in fact then added: “don’t do the breast stroke, plays havoc with your hips”.
So, while swimming is good for you, the breast stroke isn’t - and this is the stroke that I had been doing because I am more comfortable with it.
With this in mind, my first point for anyone suffering from SPD or in the early stages of pregnancy, is to seek advice from someone who is trained in pre-natal exercise.
I stopped using the breast stroke and although this alleviated the problem a bit, the heavier I got (which was pretty heavy by the end) the worse my hips were.
I found it impossible to sleep as every time I moved in bed I was in agony - it felt like my bones were crunching together.
Walking wasn’t too bad, but when I stopped I found the pain really kicked it. I also found that when I walked I tended to drag my feet like a sulky child (or that could just be because I was pretty sulky for most of my pregnancy!).
By the middle of my second trimester, I decided I needed to do something about it. I spoke to one of the midwives, but unfortunately, she seemed to think that SPD was some sort of buzz word and that it was just what happened when you get pregnant so offered no help (I am still very annoyed about this).
I then spoke to another midwife that was much more sympathetic and referred me to a physio. Unfortunately, I never received an appointment as the waiting list was too long, but if I was to have SPD again I would try this route privately.
I started to seek advice from other mums. One told me not to open my legs - I'm not sure if they meant literally or whether she was talking about the act that had got me in the condition in the first place...; one friend was very sympathetic and gave me a belt she had used and a special cushion she was given by a physio to sit on - both of which made things easier.
She also recommended a balance ball which I have to say was my favourite piece of advice, as I found it very comfortable.
Another technique that I found helpful was pregnancy massage. I’d never heard of pregnancy massage until I had my baby shower when I was six months pregnant.
My godmother bought me a voucher and, I have to say, I was a bit dubious at first. I mean, how on earth was I going to lay on my tummy...?
But when I got there it was a heavenly experience.
Firstly, no laying on your tummy is required, and I was made to feel very relaxed. She used a blend of essential oils and carrier oils that aided in relaxation and were good for SPD and other pregnancy related problems like oedema and stretch marks.
However, you have to very careful when using essential oils during pregnancy; always consult a massage therapist that’s trained in pregnancy massage, an aromatherapist or I find this blog very useful https://www.baseformula.com/blog).
The outcome was that I had a couple of weeks with a lot less pain... so I treated myself to a couple more!
If you are suffering from SPD I really feel for you. It probably was the worst point of my pregnancy and made me very miserable.
But once I had my baby the pain went immediately. I couldn’t believe it, and I was so relieved.
Also, if you get SPD in your first pregnancy that doesn't necessarily mean you'll get it in your second. The friend who gave me lots of great advice had no problems with her hips during her second pregnancy.
Lastly, for the first-time mums who are struggling with hip pains, I can assure you that it is all worth it in the end.