Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction During Pregnancy

Are you experiencing increased discomfort near your pubic bone? Maybe you notice it with sudden changes in movement, walking, putting on your pants, or rolling over in bed. 

This discomfort is called Symphysis Pubis Discomfort or SPD for short. Some studies show that it can affect up to 25% of pregnant women. 

So where exactly is the pubic symphysis? It is located right where our pubic hair is! The area that connects our two bones is called the pubic symphysis. You can see it just above the arrow below.

Typically, women experiencing SPD will report:

  • Shooting, stabbing, clicking, or grinding pain/discomfort at the level of the pubic bone (where your pubic hair is).
  • Pain that travels to your lower belly, perineum, thighs, or low back.
  • Difficulty walking, ascending or descending stairs, rolling over in bed, putting on pants. 

Unfortunately, the severity of SPD varies from mother to mother. Some moms experience only mild discomfort while other moms require a walking aid such as a walker to help them move around comfortably.

You may be wondering why this happens to some pregnant moms. 

The risk factors for SPD include:

  • Poor Posture
  • Weight Gain
  • Genetic Factors: Ligament and collagen elasticity (some women have “stretchier ligaments than others).
  • Metabolic: Lower levels of Vitamin D and Calcium (Another reason to take those prenatal vitamins)!
  • Degenerative Factors: present arthritis, increased maternal age
  • Poor Motor Capabilities: Uncoordinated mamas may be more at risk for this!

What healthcare practitioners can help me with this diagnosis?

  1. Search out a pelvic floor physical therapist in your area. All you have to do is google “pelvic floor physical therapist near me.” 
  2. Make sure you call ahead and ask how long the appointment sessions are. I would stay away from any clinics that offer 30 minute appointments. You deserve at least 45 minutes of one-on-one time with your physical therapist but 1 hour would be best! 

Should I stop exercising because of the pain?

With SPD, we want to find exercises that feel good in your body.

Check out the following exercises below. With ALL of these exercises, make sure you are performing them slowly and with control. When we are dealing with SPD, our goal is not to get in as many reps as possible, but rather, to go slowly through the exercise, focusing on breathing (no breath holds here) in order to properly recruit the correct muscles. 

As always, check with your physician before starting any exercise program when pregnant. 


Glute Bridge

Begin with feet close to your butt. Inhale to start, exhale and lift your pelvis towards the ceiling. Exhale throughout the entire movement keeping your neck and shoulder muscles relaxed. Squeeze your glutes (butt muscles) at the top of the bridge. SLOWLY lower down. Repeat 3 sets of 15


Modified Side Plank Taps

Begin with your knees, shoulders and butt in alignment. Elbow directly under shoulder. Inhale to start. Exhale and lift your pelvis off the ground keep a neutral arch in your spine. Lower back down and repeat on both sides 10-15 reps!

Bear Lift 

Begin on all fours. Inhale to start, exhale and lift your knees gently off the ground. While exhaling, gently engage your abdominal muscles like you are hugging baby towards your spine. Make sure you do not arch or round your low back. Repeat 3 sets of 15


Bird Dog Level One

Begin on all fours. Inhale to start. Exhale and lift your arm parallel to the ground. Tighten your abdominals while your arm moves. Repeat 3 sets of 10 per side


Bird Dog Level Two

Begin on all fours. Inhale to start. Exhale and lift your leg parallel to the ground. Tighten your abdominals while your leg moves. Repeat 3 sets of 10 per side


Bird Dog Level Three

Begin on all fours. Inhale to start. Exhale and lift your opposite arm and opposite leg parallel to the ground. Tighten your abdominals while your arm and leg moves. Repeat 3 sets of 10 per side


Narrow Squat

Squat down as if you are sitting down in a chair behind you. Typically, a narrower stance feels more supportive in the pelvis. Adjust your feet width until it feels the most comfortable for you! Repeat 3 sets of 10. Add a weighted carry if this feels comfortable in your body. 

When performing any exercise with SPD symptoms, you want to be sure that the exercise does not aggravate the symptoms. If you feel increased pain or discomfort during the exercise, try to modify it, slow down the movement, or decrease the repetitions. If you are unable to perform an exercise without pain, then do not perform the exercise. 


Other recommendations:

You can try a SPD belt like this one here. This belt can be very helpful for some moms and for others, it is not very helpful. This is why I always recommend buying the cheapest one and see if it makes any difference. 

Your best bet is to always see a pelvic floor physical therapist in order to receive an individualized treatment plan for your own body. The exercises recommended are general exercises that feel good for women experiencing SPD. This does not guarantee that you will be able to perform these exercises safely.

Interested in learning more about preparing your body for labor and delivery?

Check out my labor and delivery class HERE. I created this course after countless postpartum patients confided in me that they did not feel physically and mentally prepared for birth.

As a mama who felt disappointed in my own labor and delivery class experience, I decided to make the most well-rounded labor and delivery class available on the internet. Check out alllll the deets by clicking here.

Not ready to sign up for a course just yet? Download my free guide to start taking the first necessary steps to prepare your vagina for labor. You can get the free guide by filling out the form below!

From your girl on the internet that cares about your vagina,

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