Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) in Pregnancy: Treatment and Prevention Tips

There’s definitely something – you feel it in your bones. Yes, the pain you feel in your pelvic region isn’t something to that can be or should be dismissed easily. Why do expectant moms have pubic pain, and what can you do?

What is symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and where will I feel the pain

pelvic joint symphysis pubis dysfunction SPD

Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) refers to the pain or the excessive movement felt in the pelvic region. The pubic pain you feel during pregnancy is due to the loosening of the ligaments surrounding the pubic bones and the strain on the pubic symphysis – the cartilage that connects the left and right pubic bones and is the middle of three bones that make up the pubic bones.

The symptoms of SPD appear at different times for everyone, but most moms feel the pain around Month 8 of pregnancy. Some moms have lingering pains that last until after the pregnancy. However, in general, it hurts especially in the last month of pregnancy, and some moms are unable to even get up in the morning because of the pain.

Causes of symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) in pregnancy


1: Pelvic joints become loose

The ligaments around your pubic bones become loose to prepare your body for the delivery by making space available for your baby to pass through the birth canal. Ligaments loosen as a result of the secretion of the hormone relaxin.

When the ligaments around your pubic bones loosen, the pelvis isn’t abe to bear the weight of the organs and the upper half of the body as well as it could before. The muscles and bones in that area hence are all used to try and keep the hips in place. However, the pubic bones, especially the pubis symphysis, bears the brunt of the weight on the pubic bones. Over time, you will start to feel pain in that area.


2: The weight of the uterus

The fetus growing in the uterus and the uterus itself is growing and expanding in size. The uterus pushes against the surrounding organs to make space for the growing fetus. As the pubic bones, especially the pubis symphysis, are directly under the uterus, the uterus exerts pressure on them the most. When under strain, the joints in the pelvis slowly become looser and this make the pelvis unstable.

When your joints become loose, the muscles around your pubic bones work harder to keep your hips in place, and this can ultimately cause you pain. When your baby grows rapidly in the third trimester, especially in the last month, you might suddenly feel the pain in your pelvis.

Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) might start early on in pregnancy

woman pain symphysis pubis dysfunction

Some moms feel pain in their pubic bones before their bellies grow much bigger. Having chronic back pain before pregnancy can also cause more problems. If you have a misaligned pelvis, you might have more problems during pregnancy when your uterus becomes bigger.

Before your belly grows bigger, if you’re having pubic pains already or have been diagnosed with SPD, you might find your joints or back hurting even after you’re done with the delivery. This could lead to sciatica or urinary incontinence.

Although rare, SPD can worsen and if the mother should meet with a medical mishap during the labor and delivery process, the pubic symphysis can separate more or become permanently damaged. This is termed diastasis symphysis pubis, and is characterized by the widening of the joint by 9 mm. A vaginal delivery might not be possible, and a diastasis symphysis pubis can cause serious pain in the pelvis and the areas around it.

For most moms, however, SPD will improve once relaxin production slows down and your ligaments tighten once again.

Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) during pregnancy: Treatment tips

pregnant woman exercise yoga

Expectant moms with pubic pain have to be doubly cautious about their posture during pregnancy. Slight pain can be alleviated through stretching, but when you have pubic pain that is so painful it immobilizes you, you might want to talk to your practitioner to get a better idea of what you can do.

As your pregnancy progresses, the baby growing in you puts a downward pressure on your pubic bones and slowly pushes them further apart. The pelvic bones and the pubic symphysis are not as strong as they seem, and will slowly widen from the pressure on them. Take measures to reduce the burden on your pelvis. Do stretches or Kegels and wear a pelvic support belt.

Your hips don’t lie: Don’t ignore any pain in your pelvic region caused by SPD

pregnant woman belly

You might have a strong personality and aren’t used to whining about anything, but when you have pubic pain, don’t keep quiet – your hips don’t lie. Tell your practitioner, get a massage from a certified therapist, take a warm bath, and do some pelvic tilts. Try to have as stress-free a maternity life as you can – move your hips and do little dances to hype yourself up while you wait for baby’s arrival!