During the first trimester of my pregnancy with Elijah, I started to get extremely painful back pain. I mentioned it during an appointment with my doctor, who told me it was part of being pregnant and to just get on with it.
By week 16, my hips started to ache and I had difficulty walking. I mentioned it to my midwife, who told me it was part of being pregnant and to just get on with.
By week 18, I couldn’t lift anything, was struggling to walk and one evening I sat down on the floor in Oliver’s room to tidy away the toys from the day, only to be unable to stand. Every time I tried to get up, I had a soaring pain in my pelvis and collapsed back into a heap on the floor. Mr. C tried to help me, but I couldn’t put any weight onto my hips and when he tried to lift me, it felt like my pelvis was coming apart. I sat there crying on the floor in pain for 20 minutes before I managed to crawl into the next room and drag myself into bed. I booked an appointment with the midwife, who told me it was probably sciatica and so there was nothing they could do.
By week 24, I couldn’t lift anything, could barely walk and could no longer drive, leaving me housebound with a toddler who I was unable to lift or carry. In desperation, I trawled the internet and came across a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). I’ve since learnt, that health professionals prefer the term Pregnancy related Pelvic Girdle Pain (PPGP). I learnt as much as I could about the condition and raised the issue again with my midwife, who dismissed it. She told me even if I was suffering with it, there was nothing anyone could do to help me and to just wait until the baby was born, as it would go away then.
In all honesty, life was becoming too difficult to manage everything by myself. I couldn’t look after Oliver properly, the house was in such a state and I barely went outside. So my Dad came to visit for a few days, while we looked for a cleaner and it gave Mr. C enough time to finish the large projects he was working on. He then worked 9am – 3pm, three days a week and we lived mainly off of our savings. The savings we had worked so hard to build up, so that Mr. C could take a few months off after Elijah was born. But we were running out of options and we have a mortgage to pay.
As I entered my last trimester, I began my antenatal classes and after seeing that I was unable to even sit on a chair without wincing in pain, the woman taking the class recommended that I see my midwife again in order to be referred to a physio. She advised that if she refused again, to go to my GP. At 34 weeks, I raised the issue again to my midwife, who dismissed it. So I booked an appointment to see my GP, I requested a woman this time. I sat in the doctor’s office and broke down in tears, begging her to refer me to a physio or to help me fight for an elective C – section, because I just couldn’t cope with the pain anymore. I was seen by a physio within a few weeks.
The physio actually helped me by giving me a support band and showed me some simple exercises that helped me during the rest of my pregnancy. It certainly wasn’t a fix, but it meant I was in slightly less pain and could at least take Oliver for short walks by myself.
A couple of weeks later, I developed symptoms for Cholestasis and after a blood test showed my salt levels were dangerously high, I was induced immediately at week 38. After a short but difficult labour involving a shoulder dystocia, we were introduced to our beautiful baby boy Elijah. Despite the difficult labour, I felt better than I had done in months. However, the pelvic pain didn’t just go like the midwife had said.
I raised my concerns at my post natal check, six weeks after Elijah was born and was told that my hormones were probably still all over the place and to come back at a later date. Only at a later date to be told the same thing and to wait it out a bit longer until my hormones calmed down. The only problem was, that as time went on, the problem kept getting worse and by the time Elijah was a few months old, I found myself being in agony if I walked too far and became limited to a 20 minute walk a day. I was still unable to do much lifting, driving was left for absolute necessities and my legs began to give way, meaning I collapsed on a regular basis.
At my wits end, I went to see a chiropractor. I did my research and found a woman in Cheshire who specialises in children and pregnant women (I will write more about her in a later post). She told me that my sacroiliac joint had become misaligned, meaning my muscles had strengthened in an incorrect way, causing further strain on my joints and ligaments. She was actually quite surprised that a physio hadn’t picked it up sooner. We have been working together for a few weeks now and although the pain does get slightly worse at certain times of the month, I’m pleased to report that generally things appear to be on the mend. I have been able to carry washing up the stairs by myself, I’ve taken a long walk with the boys and my legs haven’t given way, meaning I haven’t collapsed into an embarrassed heap on the floor for a few weeks now.
Elijah turns seven months next week and I’ve recently been told I can finally go back to the gym to start strengthening my muscles. At the back of my mind, I know when we decide to have another child and if we are lucky enough to be able to, the chances of developing severe pelvic pain again are high. But despite knowing that, I now know there are organisations like the Pelvic Parnership, who help pregnant women to get the right support and care for their pelvic pain and I now also know a very good chiropractor who will help me through a pregnancy may the need arise.
Pelvic pain shouldn’t be dismissed as normal, it should be taken seriously and treated like any other condition. I feel that had something been done sooner, I wouldn’t have suffered as much and I may have been able to enjoy my pregnancy with Elijah a lot more. Had someone listened to me after I had given birth, I feel that I would have been on the road to recovery a lot quicker. I just hope this post finds someone who is going through something similar and helps them to feel less alone.