Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) can affect you emotionally as well as physically. We know it can be both hard to look after your emotional wellbeing while you are experiencing pain and immobility, and that these physical symptoms can further impact your mental health.
Estimates suggest that around 1 in 10 women experience depression linked to pregnancy and women who have had difficult pregnancies or births are more likely to experience it.
Women with PGP may be more likely to develop antenatal or postnatal depression due to the physical impact of PGP as well as the changes brought about by pregnancy and birth. Results of our annual surveys suggest that 1 in 2 women with PGP may also experience a mental health problem during or after pregnancy:
There are many charities that offer specialist information and support for people experiencing depression or difficulties with their mental health:
Our Facebook support group offers a private, moderated space to get practical tips and emotional support from other women with experience of PGP.
Pain and immobility can impact your mental and emotional health as well as your physical health. Many women tell us that they feel:
These feelings are common and reasonable. Not being able to do things that you are used to, or relying on other people for help with daily tasks, can make it harder to feel good about ourselves. PGP is treatable. Getting manual therapy as soon as possible can help you move more freely and experience less pain.
Allowing yourself time and space can be one of the hardest things to do. However, making time for yourself and your relaxation is an important tool for helping you manage the physical and emotional symptoms of PGP.
You may not be able to relax in the ways you are used to. Even watching a movie can be difficult if you find it hard to sit for a long time. Look for small things that let you take your mind off PGP for a while, such as listening to a podcast or chatting with friends.
You could join our Facebook support group to hear from other women about how they make time for themselves. Our Facebook group is a private, moderated space where women with experience of PGP can offer practical tips and emotional support to other women with PGP.
Many women tell us they find it difficult to talk about how they are feeling, both at home and at work. It is especially difficult when your pain is not ‘obvious’ to others or when people around you don’t know much about PGP.
Some women find it helpful to write down their feelings. Try writing your ‘PGP story’, how it began and how it has affected you. You could show this to your partner, family or friends, or keep it as a personal diary to help you process your feelings.
Often, partners, family members and friends are feeling many of the same emotions. They may feel frustrated or guilty that they don’t know how to help you. They may not understand what you are going through but are too afraid to ask. You and your loved ones may not be sharing these feelings, trying to protect one another. This can leave you all feeling more isolated and disconnected. Sharing your feelings gives you an opportunity to experience more connection and may provide opportunities for problem-solving.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family about how you are feeling, you could try talking to a counsellor. Counselling provides a safe and confidential space for you to talk and think about your situation with a trained counsellor. They will listen empathically and help you to express your feelings and find creative ways to move forward.
Many women may experience anxiety during and after pregnancy.
If you are feeling more anxious during or after your pregnancy, please talk to your GP or midwife about different mental health support services and treatment options.
Women with PGP have shared with us that their anxiety often centered on fear of the pain getting worse and not being able to carry on with their daily activities. Please remember to connect with the Pelvic Partnership team if you want more help and support related to your PGP.
Depression in pregnancy is also known as antenatal depression. Women often describe feelings of anxiety and despair associated with their pregnancy rather than feeling joyful and excited.
Postnatal depression is a type of depression some women experience after having a baby. It can develop within the first six weeks after the birth but may not be apparent until around six months.
Symptoms can include:
These symptoms are not uncommon initially in all women following the birth of their child and have often been referred to as ‘baby blues’. However, if symptoms persist, you may be experiencing postnatal depression.
Depression during and after pregnancy are treatable. Seek help from your GP or Health Visitor as soon as possible. The sooner your depression is recognised, the sooner you can start to feel better. You may be offered different treatment options, including antidepressant medication and talking therapies, such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Some women who have had difficult and traumatic births go on to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder which can develop immediately after a stressful or traumatic event, such as a difficult birth, or it can occur weeks, months or even years later.
The Birth Trauma Association is a great resource for women who have PTSD linked to a traumatic birth.
Symptoms can include:
PTSD can be successfully treated but it is important to seek advice from your GP as soon as possible if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Treatments can include: