A heart-breaking story for every day of the year (plus two for luck)

Written by Becky Martin, the Pelvic Partnership. January 2019

I am just in the process of analysing the results of the Pelvic Partnership Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) survey we conducted in 2018. 367 women responded and a depressingly small number of them received the treatment they needed in a decent length of time. I suppose those who did fare well may not have taken the time to fill in a survey, but I know, from experience working on the Pelvic Partnership helpline and speaking with women, that PGP doesn’t tend to magically disappear as much as some doctors and midwives like to think. I had this conversation with a midwife once who swore blind that almost all PGP goes away after birth. I asked her how many women she had maintained contact with more than a few days after birth and she went quiet. It’s a common phenomenon that PGP takes a few days’ break after the birth while women are taking painkillers and comes back with a vengeance once they start moving around again.

Perhaps there are lots of trusts out there making sure that all women presenting with PGP are immediately referred to NHS physiotherapists and given manual therapy straight away. These service providers may become conspicuous in their absence as the data unfolds, but somehow I doubt it.

Things have improved for women with PGP over the years the charity has been in operation, but there are a depressing number of respondents with recent pregnancies who are still experiencing the same old problems we have been seeing 5 for years: doctors failing to refer to physiotherapists; group exercise classes (useless and inaccessible for women with other children); lists of painful exercises. With funding issues as they are in the NHS, it is not really surprising that waiting lists are long, but some women are waiting so long they are facing severe PGP in the birthing room – I’ve stared down this barrel myself and it is not pleasant. The fact that it is completely avoidable is beyond vexing. My second birth was the most beautiful experience of my life – PGP-free, thanks to manual therapy!

We still have so far to go before there is equitable treatment for all women in the UK. I still have so far to go before I finish crunching these numbers, and I’m going to have to find some way to deal with the anger and sadness I am feeling for all these women who have been let down so badly. Each data entry is a story, a woman just like me, balancing work or family with chronic pain and disability. We are doing our best to weave these stories together and tell them to the world in a format that the folks who value numbers will take notice of. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

Pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain affects 1 in 5 women and is treatable. Please help to spread the word that #PGPistreatable by sharing our Stickmum campaign videos today. Follow the campaign at PP__PGP_charity and on Facebook.

Charity Registered in England: 1100373 

The Pelvic Partnership consists of volunteers who have had pelvic girdle pain (PGP) and wish to support other women. We aim to pass on information based on both research and the experience of other women with PGP. We are not medical professionals and cannot offer medical advice and the information we provide should not take the place of advice and guidance from your own health-care providers. Material on this site is provided for information and support purposes only.

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