S: What Is SPD?

30/11/2009 11:28 | Updated 22 May 2015

Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) is a pain that can arise during pregnancy caused by movement in the symphysis pubis joint.

This joint holds the two sides of your pelvic bones together with help from a system of ligaments.

When you are pregnant, your body produces a hormone, 'relaxin', to loosen and soften these ligaments.

This allows your pelvis to open up slightly when giving birth, making it slightly easier to fit the baby out!

However, this hormone can sometimes have the unpleasant side effect of causing the joint to move earlier in the pregnancy. At the same time, your body is dealing with extra weight and unfortunately this can lead to SPD.

It is a mild to severe pain mainly felt in the groin and pubic area. The pain can also radiate along your hips, thighs or buttocks.

You may hear or feel a clicking, and you could have problems when rolling over in bed, when climbing stairs, or even just when walking.

Try to avoid doing anything that makes the pain worse; don't stand on one leg if you can help it. Ask to speak to a physiotherapist if the pain is very bad. You may find wearing a support belt helps.

It is important that the team assisting with your baby's delivery knows you are suffering from SPD so that they can take any necessary precautions during labour.

If you need an epidural this would temporarily mask any pain, so ensure that the width your knees can move apart comfortably is assessed before the epidural is done.

SPD usually goes away after the baby is born when the body stops making relaxin.

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