Friday, 27 November 2015

What Not To Say To A Woman With SPD

Ahh, SPD. The pregnancy gift that keeps on giving. Pain, that is.

For the uninitiated, SPD stands for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. It's actually supposed to be called PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) these days but that doesn't seem to be catching on. I'm no medic, but basically it means that, as a pregnant woman's muscles relax, the bones that make up the pelvis become misaligned causing a lot of pain. I tend to go for the shorter explanation of, "my pelvis is falling apart." Which tends to kill the conversation right there.

But it doesn't always. While most people will be sympathetic, you will get the odd comment which gets you grinding your teeth (although that could be symptomatic of the fact you're in CONSTANT PAIN too). So if you're faced with a friend or relative with SPD, please try not to say any of the following:

#1 "Oh well, it's not for long." - In my first pregnancy, the SPD started when I was 30 weeks pregnant. I went to 40+5 in the end. Nearly 11 weeks of being in pain all the time, becoming pretty much housebound towards the end, doesn't really feel like 'not for long' when you're living with it. Plus there's the fact that, while in many cases the SPD will magically disappear after birth, it doesn't always. It took me a few weeks to feel normal again, only for it to recur when Eleanor was 22 months old. And with this pregnancy I started getting symptoms at 6 weeks. So actually, yes, it might be for long.

#2 "Oh we all got that in our day, there just wasn't a fancy name for it." - Really? You all felt like your bones were grinding together with every step? Oh no, what was that? Your hips felt a bit funny? Yeah, that's not SPD. And even if you did all get it, here's a newsflash - that doesn't mean I should have to put up with it. And you shouldn't have had to either. Pain is not just an inevitable part of pregnancy we should ignore - it's our bodies saying something's wrong and needs fixing.

#3 "It's quite common though, isn't it?" - Well, yes. Roughly 1 in 5 pregnant women will get SPD. But colds are pretty common too, yet we all still need lots of rest and moan a lot when we get them. We'd moan even more if we had a cold for weeks or months on end. It might be common, but that doesn't mean I should just live with it and carry on as normal, and it doesn't mean that I don't occasionally need to whinge about it.

#4 "Well, you'd better not get it with your second child, you won't have time for it then." - I won't have time for it? I'm sorry, is SPD a luxury I'm squeezing into my schedule? No, it's a MEDICAL CONDITION! And actually, seeing as it almost always recurs in later pregnancies and is usually worse, that's just making me worry more about my family's future. (Incidentally, I am now having my second child, and it is worse, but I'm coping. At some point I'll blog about how.)

#5 "Just take some paracetamol." - This was genuinely the advice of my GP. That and Google "symphysis pubis." Helpful. Paracetamol is about as effective a pain reliever as TicTacs for me anyway (the latter would at least leave me minty fresh) but when it comes to constant, at times severe pain, it won't even make a dent. SPD sufferers need proper manual treatment, not to be told to pop a few pills and deal with it.

Have you suffered from SPD? How did people react? Did you get any not-so-helpful comments?

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