On Saturday, I entered the 28th week of my pregnancy. This pregnancy, while a rollercoaster of emotions, has been a wonderful one for both Bo and myself. Overall, we were blessed to conceive easily and then I was able to make it through the dreaded first trimester with just some exhaustion and nausea. In comparsion to the stories I’ve read and heard, this pregnancy has been very easy – until last week.
Unfortunately, last week I began to think that the pain and discomfort I was feeling in my pelvic area was more serious than I once thought. Since I started feeling the pain, about three weeks ago, I assumed that since it wasn’t causing many of the emergency signals, cramping, bleeding, piercing pain or contractions, that it was just “normal pregnancy discomfort” associated with carrying extra weight. After speaking with my OB-GYN, I adjusted workouts that immediately caused pain – jogging instead of running and avoiding any jumping movements. But after spending an especially active few days, I woke up last week barely able to walk to the end of the street without stopping to breathe through the discomfort. Luckily, my friend Abigail Bales is a Physical Therapist who specializes in pregnancy and post-partum care.
I sent her a quick text, describing my pain and within minutes she squeezed me into her appointment schedule and let me know that nothing is “normal” during pregnancy. Some feelings may be common, but nothing should be ignored.
While I waited for Friday’s appointment to arrive, I spent much of last week listening to my body and taking note of the things that caused pain.
- Getting out of bed
- Anything on one leg (i.e taking off pants, trying to take off shoes quickly, barre moves on one leg, etc)
- Getting out of cabs/cars
- Running (I dashed for a subway and squealed in pain on Wednesday.)
- Non pre-natal yoga
As soon as I sat down on the table Friday, I started to make excuses. “Maybe I’m a hypocondriac. Maybe being here is stupid. I’m sorry I’m wasting your time. I’m sure this is normal.”
I have no idea why these words came out of my mouth or why asking for help from an expert felt so dramatic and difficult. Luckily, Abby is far smarter than me and within minutes she calmed me down enough to make me feel at ease, assess my body and diagnose me. It felt wonderful to have someone describe the symptoms I was feeling to me. Everything she said matched the pain in my body that I had such a difficult time articulating.
Since I knew I would have a hard time describing the diagnosis to you guys, Abby did the hard work for me.
During pregnancy, the connective tissue of the entire body is swiftness by a hormone called relaxin. And relaxin doesn’t discriminate. It affects your feet, your teeth, and in a major way, your pelvis.
The joint that connect the two sides of the pelvis in the front of the body is called the pubic symphysis. There isn’t supposed to be a log of movement at that joint, but when it’s softened by the relaxin hormone, the joint can move excessively or even separate partially, both of which are extremely painful. The weight of the baby plus the forward tip of the pelvis puts a ton of extra pressure o this joint during pregnancy. Combined with the softening of the connective tissue, it’s the perfect storm of pain during pregnancy.
Running, jumping, and straddle positions can exacerbate the symptoms or increase the possibility of developing pubic symphysis dysfunction during pregnancy as the pelvis becomes more unstable and the ability to contract core and pelvic musculature decreases. The natural tendency toward a forward tilt of the pelvis, turned out position of the hips/femurs “waddle walk”, and additional weight all contribute to the pressure on the pubic symphysis and further the risk of developing pain.
I now realize that the pain I was feeling over the past month was my body trying to tell me to stop running. It is so easy to see in 20/20 hindsight and I wish I’d listened. But, unfortunately, as a first-time pregnant woman, I thought it was just the normal trials and tribulations of pregnancy. There is both good and bad news with this diagnosis. The good news is that there are certain things I can do to control it such as limiting exercises that cause pain, foam roll, focus on strengthening my pelvic floor, and enjoy epsom salt baths. The bad news is that there are certain things which I have less control over such as hormones, natural body mechanics and weight gain. Each week, Abby and I will work together for an hour to release pain and tightness in my lower back and inner thighs which is exacerbating the problem, strengthen my pelvic floor and work to improve the situation.
Unfortunately, this diagnosis, leaves me in a place of having to say “see you later” to my good friend running for the forseeable future. While some people’s bodies allow them to run through their entire pregnancy, my running days are over. It isn’t goodbye as I know that in time, once my doctors and body tell me that I am ready to run again after giving birth, running will once again be an outlet that allows me to spend time with my thoughts or a best friend, enjoy endorphins after the sweat and leave me feeling strong and empowered.
But, until then, I’ll be finding those endorphins through other workouts. I spent some time working with Abby to put together the best schedule possible that will allow me to still enjoy the sweat and endorphins I crave while also being gentle on my body. Here is an example of this week’s workout plan
- Monday – Swimming & PT exercises/foam rolling
- Tuesday – Orangetheory & PT exercises/foam rolling
- Wednesday – Prenatal Pilates & PT exercises/foam rolling
- Thursday – Swimming & PT exercises/foam rolling
- Friday – Orangetheory & PT exercises/foam rolling
- Saturday – XtendBarre or Power Walk & PT exercises/foam rolling
- Sunday – Pre Natal Yoga & PT exercises/foam roll
Please, friends, learn from me. Do not wait to get help or ask questions especially when you have doctors and resources whom you trust.
Your turn: If you have any questions about this, Abby and I will do our best to address them in the comments section!