I got home from a night shift and went to bed. When I awoke, I had the iconic pregnancy wobble – and it remained with me until I gave birth. Except it was more than just the wobble… that day it was incredibly painful to move at all! Turns out I experienced an acute flare of symphysis pubis dysfunction/pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (SPD or PPGP for short).
Relaxin is a hormone your body produces to help in labour. Unfortunately in the run up to labour it hinders more than helps. The ligaments of the pelvis become loose – which is great for pushing a baby out – but makes the normal function of your pelvis, ie. supporting you while you walk, difficult. Your muscles have to pick up the slack and support your joints instead. But as the muscles are not accustomed to this job, they are not as good at it and can get tired out. And your pelvis becomes susceptible to pain and damage. Which is what happened to me. This is what I found helped during that time (in no particular order):
1) Rest! – Don’t push yourself. Your body is telling you that it is having difficulty coping with what you are throwing at it. So listen to your body and take it easy…do anything else and you risk making it worse! So don’t play chicken with yourself…it’s a lose-lose situation.
2) Pillow while you sleep – I bought a pillow specifically designed to fit between your legs while you sleep, but you can just as well use an ordinary pillow. The key is to elevate the top leg when lying on your side so that your pelvis is squared. This positioning helps reduce the strain on your pelvic joints. Your pelvis will thank you for it in the morning.
3) Belt while you walk – I bought an SI belt, which is slightly different from a pregnancy belt. It is worn lower and is used for a variety of pelvic issues, not just the pregnancy related ones. It’s main function is to hold your pelvis together, since your ligaments are refusing to and your muscles are struggling to. It takes a little bit of getting used to and has to be removed if you want to sit down, but I found it did help in the long run. Follow the instructions provided with the product to ensure you are using it correctly. Or ask a healthcare professional (notably a physiotherapist) for guidance.
4) Physio – Seek out a referral early. The help and advice they provide, if followed, do really make a difference. So don’t sit at home and try to go it alone… it’s only you who will suffer.
5) Time – Unfortunately none of the above is a quick fix. It took me weeks for the pain to subside and be reasonably functioning again – and even then my wobble persisted. Speak to your doctor about what pain medications are appropriate in the mean time. Be patient and only do as much as your body allows. Otherwise you risk another flare up and you’re back to square one.