Checklist of tips to consider on your PGP journey

By Madeleine Speed

Of course, there is no guarantee that any symptoms of PGP will be fixed by following these tips. However, the more you know about PGP, can anticipate problems and can communicate your needs with the health professionals, the more likely you are to avoid some of the key pitfalls that might stand in the way of your recovery. So have a look at this checklist to see the most common tips that can help in your recovery from PGP. 

Find out as much as you can about PGP

If you are new to the symptoms of PGP or they seem to have returned in your latest pregnancy, do look at the Pelvic Partnership website and ring us for more information or to ask specific questions you have. NB feel confident that you know what PGP is and what a manual therapist assessment and treatment session should entail (i.e. a proper examination of your pelvis when you have undressed as far as your underwear, assessment of how the joints are moving and the symmetry of the pelvis before providing ‘hands on treatment’ to realign the pelvis and free stiff or stuck pelvic joints). Have a good look at our website and publications.

Go and see a manual therapist as soon as possible

As soon as PGP symptoms occur, see your midwife or GP for a referral for a physio appointment with the NHS. Don’t be fobbed off from having treatment if your symptoms occur very early in the pregnancy; women can experience symptoms in the first few weeks.

PGP near your due date

If your PGP symptoms develop towards the end of the pregnancy, you could go straight for a private physio, chiropractor or osteopath if an NHS appointment is not going to be available until after the baby is born. It is better to have treatment while you are still pregnant (quite apart from not having to juggle feeding, nappies, etc and still cope with PGP after the baby is born) as it may improve your mobility during labour which in turn will help you cope with labour and may reduce the likelihood of you being restricted or needing extra pain relief like an epidural if you don’t want to have one.

Find an experienced manual therapist

Whether you go through the NHS or privately, see if you can find out from friends or from the department in advance about whether the physio, osteopath or chiropractor is experienced in treating PGP specifically or pelvic joint injuries (such as a sports injuries) in general. If not, see if you can find one who is and ask how they plan to assess and treat you (e.g. you should be offered ‘hands on’ treatment at each session and not just a list of exercises, crutches or a maternity belt).

Bring a copy of our booklet ‘Stickmum’ leaflet or ‘About PGP’ publication

Taking one of the ‘Stickmum’ leaflets or one of our publications to an appointment might give you more confidence if you feel you are being told that PGP is caused by hormones rather than being a biomechanical problem. You can raise points made in the booklet or give it to the GP, midwife or physio if they haven’tcome across PGP. If you feel they are inexperienced or unsympathetic you can ask to see another physio, midwife or GP.

Put PGP into your birth plan

If your PGP symptoms start during pregnancy (as opposed to after the birth), mention your PGP in your birth plan and look at our website or the ‘About PGP’ booklet to find out how to measure your ‘pain free gap’, to look at birthing positions to consider and learn as much as you can about what PGP is and how manual therapy can help relieve the symptoms.

Supervisor of midwives (SOM)

If your midwife is not aware of the treatment available for PGP or isn’t supporting your wish for a home birth, water birth or your choice of birth, then do arrange to see the SOM, who can help support you and your midwife with important discussions on your options well ahead of your due date. Each hospital will have a SOM on 24 hours a day 7 days a week and you can contact them through the hospital switchboard and request a meeting. They can also help plan your care after birth and on the ward particularly if you are immobile.

Find an advocate

Whether you are giving birth in a hospital, midwifery-led unit or at home, you can have someone with you to help explain that you have PGP, give copies of your birth plan to members of the midwifery team or simply sup-port you and act on your behalf. If you feel you will be too vulnerable to speak out, having an advocate could really help. This might be your partner but it could always be a friend who will stand up for you and help attend to your needs.

Assess whether the treatment is helping

You may see a really kind and empathetic manual therapist or perhaps someone whom you do not find friendly. In each case, try and assess if you are being given ‘good manual therapy’ regard-less of the professional’s ‘bedside manner’. See if you are experiencing progress even if it is limited after each session. If you don’t feel freer in your movements and a reduction in your pain (once the soreness reduces in a day or so as a result of the treatment), then consider finding a new manual therapist rather than having more than three sessions with someone who isn’t making a difference.

Take action

If you feel fobbed off, ignored or the manual therapy you have is not helping you to improve, don’t be tempted to just put up with the pain. It is best if you take action quickly to get the treatment you need at whatever stage you are in your recovery from PGP symptoms. If you are feeling under-confident about going back to your GP or physio on your own, then take a trusted friend, your partner or your mum or anyone else who would be supportive and a good advocate for you.

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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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We would also like to acknowledge the support of the National Lottery's Corononavirus Community Support Fund, which funded our COVID-19 Response Project. 

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