There is an uncomfortable symptom that women complain of every now and then in prenatal yoga...and I know the feeling all too well myself.
Around my second trimester of pregnancy, I started to notice a sensation that felt like my pelvis was coming apart, literally right down the center. I felt it when I’d get out of bed in the morning. And, when trying to put on my yoga leggings to go teach. And, when I’d move too deep in poses like Warrior 2 or Goddess (essentially postures where the knees point in opposite directions or where deep squatting is involved). If I pushed it too far in practice, there would be a searing pain right down that center line of my pelvis, or almost a pulling apart feeling. I remember telling my husband that my pelvic bone was falling apart.
If you’re feeling this, too, don’t worry. It’s not. Promise. Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) occurs partially due to the hormone relaxin. Relaxin loosens the ligaments and joints in & around the pelvis to help with childbirth. The hormone also relaxes the intrauterine muscles to allow space for baby to grow throughout pregnancy. Sometimes, though, our bodies produce a heck of a lot of it.
There is a piece of cartilage that runs down the front of the pelvis connecting the gap between the two innominate bones (aka the two sides of the pelvis) to form the pubic bone. You can check out a picture of this over on @YogaDearMama. Naturally, during pregnancy, that gap in between the innominate bones increases a little due to relaxin, but when there’s more relaxin pumping through our bodies the gap can widen. And, that can cause pain. Because it's often hard to describe (and honestly there isn't a ton of research on the subject), it can be diagnosed as round ligament pain or lightning crotch - SPD is different!
So, what to do when you are experiencing SPD?
- Keep your legs together as much as possible when getting out of bed or out of car
- Sit down when putting on clothing like pants, shorts, & skirts
- Sleep with a pillow or wedge in between your legs
- Practice Prenatal Yoga! Yoga can help loosen a stiff lower back and hips, which can help improve the symptoms of SPD
- You’ll also practice postures & breathing techniques during Prenatal Yoga to support the pelvic floor and core muscles, which in turn can help with symptoms
- But, avoid deep squats or deep Warrior 2’s that can make the feeling worse!
- Consider seeing a chiropractor or acupuncturist who specializes in work with prenatal clients to find relief
The good news is that SPD goes away once baby is earthside. Yay! However, it’s not always immediate. My SPD was fully gone after six months postpartum. I’m often asked if the symptoms interfere with birth. Personally? I do not remember noticing my SPD AT ALL. Childbirth comes with other symptoms, right? Wink wink.
I hope this is helpful for you, mama. As always, if you have questions, please write. I LOVE hearing from you. And, check out the new Instagram @YogaDearMama for more education, birth stories, and MOTHER love.
P.S. If you know of a fellow mama who might benefit from these letters, please forward along. I hope to serve as many women as possible, to help new mothers navigate pregnancy and the postpartum period with knowledge, support, and most of all love. If you don't already get the Yoga Dear Mama letters, please sign up here: Yoga Dear Mama Letters. In the next few months, we'll be launching the Beta of Yoga Dear Mama online - aka an online video library! <3