When I was pregnant with my second baby I started suffering with pain in my pelvis, my hip and my back. Not too bad to start with but slowly getting worse as the weeks wore on. When I mentioned it to my midwife she told me I had SPD – Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. It’s sometimes called PPGP – Pregnancy-related Girdle Pain.
Sounds elegant, doesn’t it(!) I was given a printout about it and sent home.
Great, I thought – they know what it is and they will fix it, or at least help me with it.
No chance. The pain got progressively worse as I got nearer to my due date and by the time I was full term I could hardly walk. The only advice I had been given was to buy a support belt, which I did. That made absolutely no difference whatsoever. The midwife told me that the pain was due to the movement of my pelvis in preparation for the birth and that this is caused by a hormone called Relaxin. (Relaxin? How ironic!).
I mentioned it to every medical professional I saw during my pregnancy. I saw quite a few because I have epilepsy so they wanted to keep an eye on me. Some wrote it in their notes about my complaints of pain, some just nodded and dismissed it. It was frustrating to say the least. When you’re in the late stages of pregnancy you get to the point where frankly you cannot be arsed repeating yourself over and over. I started to feel like I was being a bit soft – I was told that lots of women suffer with SPD so maybe I was just over reacting.
The pain of SPD during pregnancy is not to be dismissed – it’s intense, it’s long lasting and it bloody hurts. For me, however, it was the pain of SPD AFTER I had given birth that was worse.
Rowan was born at 3.52am and I was subsequently taken to a post-natal ward. I had to have steps to be able to get in the bath after the birth because I couldn’t move my legs much – I was in absolute agony. They wheeled me to the ward (as they had with my previous child) and I very gingerly got into bed. Obviously, I put the pain down to having given birth a mere hour before.
By the time morning came and I hadn’t slept a wink with the pain I asked for painkillers. I was given paracetamol which didn’t even take the edge off.
In the morning I wanted to go to the bathroom and get a wash, brush my teeth etc. I was on my own in a 6 or 8 bed ward which was ‘en-suite’ so I really didn’t have far to walk – maybe ten paces. It took me half an hour to get to the bathroom because every tiny movement was excruciating. Rowan started to cry when I was half way there and there was just nothing I could do, it was horrible.
When mid-afternoon arrived and I’d told about six hundred midwives how much pain I was in someone came to tell me I could go home. I didn’t want to go home! I could hardly walk! That, apparently, was irrelevant because they sent me home anyway. If I hadn’t have had my husband at home I really would have been stuffed. I don’t know whether they still would’ve sent me home if that had been the case but there I was – literally crippled and on my way home.
I was wheeled from the ward into the car (I walked out of there holding my baby after birth no.1) and the midwife who saw us out scarpered once she’d seen Rowan in his car seat.
How I managed to get into the car and out at the other end I just don’t know. Maybe my body just knew there was no other option. I got home, I sat down and I cried. A lot.
‘Baby blues’, they call it. ‘In absolute agony and nobody cares’, I call it.
The first week was horrendous. I couldn’t even move in bed, never mind see to the baby. It really took the magic out of having a newborn. I look back now and realise how lucky I was to be able to get that bond with Rowan – it could so easily have gone the other way. I cried and cried in pain – having to wake my husband to get me more pain relief as soon as the next dose was due – even at 4 am.
Slowly, very slowly, things improved and the pain eased off, but Rowan is three and a half now and still I get pelvic girdle pain every so often.
SPD is truly horrible and the midwife said mine was mild because some people end up in a wheelchair. The experience has contributed to my decision not to have any more children because I know my body has never fully recovered. I feel that I wasn’t fully supported, that my wishes weren’t heard and that the after care I received could’ve been a lot better.
That’s my experience of SPD and I truly hope nobody reading this has to share that same experience. Unfortunately, some of you already have, or will in the future.
This post originally featured on my previous blog in February 2013 and I have republished for the purposes of linking to a wonderful linky hosted by Mad Mum of 7 – click on the badge below to learn more about invisible diseases.
For more information and support, visit Pelvic Partnership.