The pubic symphysis (symphysis pubic or pubis) is the midline cartilaginous joint uniting the left and right pubic bones (right between the legs at the front). I’m very interested in this joint within the context of pregnancy, birthing and post natally. Personally I’ve had my own experience of symphysis pubis pain during all 3 of my pregnancies and it really slows you down. I’m writing this article to inform pregnant ladies of the risks and future implications. I believe many women do not understand the importance of being very careful when it comes to pubic symphysis pain, nor the potential future issues should this joint split. I found walking stairs were really painful, wearing a backpack made things much worse and there really wasn’t anything that improves your lot until the baby is born.
Here are a few things that might help:
- wear a belly belt or compression belt to support your belly (seek advice from your medical team first)
- live life in a mini skirt – knees together when you get out of bed or the car, avoid lunges and ladders, breastroke, side movements, brisk walking and back packs (I used to pull around a small case on wheels for the last 4 months of each pregnancy – not very stylish but it made a difference)
- don’t over do it, and realise this could get nasty and become permanent. Do not push through the pain!!
- Do your pelvic floor exercises! This could be the difference between something long term and something short term!
- avoid stairs
What if things get worse?
If things get worse it might be Diastasis symphysis pubis. This is the separation of normally joined pubic bones at the front of the pelvis, as in the dislocation of the bones, without a fracture. This is bad news ladies; once those bones detach from each other you have something that just does not fix readily.
This happened to a friend of mine and she was on crutches from 6 months into her (second) pregnancy… and then for 2 years after that. She was on anti-inflammatories for years and had to really modify her life. Here are some things that improved her life:
- anti-infammatories – as directed by her physio
- weekly small group pilates class
- no more babies
- pelvic floor exercises (like there is no tomorrow)
- 1 on 1 water based PT (aqua gymstick)
- 1 x aqua aerobics class / week
- no high heels – not ever
- no exercise with any lateral (sideways) movement
Even with a dedication to this routine she has flare-ups. The last one has put her back on crutches, and it’s 7 years since she had her last baby.
I’m not telling you any of this to scare you, but if you have pubic symphysis pain enough to find this article, you probably need to know the potential seriousness that comes with it. Having said that, diastasis of the symphysis pubis is not that common – so get your symptoms checked early in the piece. Even being mildly inflicted with pubic symphysis discomfort can be quite uncomfortable indeed!