My story: manual therapy was the key to being pain-free
Having had straightforward pregnancies with my first two children, I confidently planned to work until nearly 39 weeks with my third – only to find that by 37 weeks I was in a great deal of pain. It started as an ache in my pelvis and quickly intensified until I could barely manage to walk. Stairs were torture and driving was agony. Resting wasn’t really an option, either, as I had a four-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old both clamouring for my attention and I don’t think I really acknowledged I was having a hard time until one evening when the reality hit home and I broke down in a flood of tears.
I rang my midwife, who was very sympathetic but had no practical suggestions. She told me the pain would almost certainly pass once the baby was born and I was lucky I only had a couple of weeks to go. We agreed that there was no point in waiting for an NHS referral for a physio, as I would have had the baby by the time an appointment came through.
The steady misery of this ongoing pain wore me down and made me feel really low. I remember blaming myself for being weak and pathetic and telling myself it was nothing. The one thing that helped was getting into my birth pool (I was having another home birth) and floating for hours in warm water once the children had gone to bed. I would then have a less painful night but within minutes of waking in the morning, I would be hobbling like an old lady again. I was unable to work and even missed having a leaving do because I was just too miserable to contemplate it.
Then, when I was searching on the internet for ideas and information, I came across the Pelvic Partnership. I rang the helpline and left a message. Sarah from the Pelvic Partnership charity rang me back a couple of days later. That call changed everything! She listened sympathetically and validated my feelings. She also explained that I didn’t need to put up with the pain and difficulty walking because PGP is treatable at any point during and after pregnancy (although the sooner it is addressed after symptoms occur, the better). Sarah helped me to compile a list of questions to ask private practitioners over the phone in order to assess whether they had enough experience of PGP to treat me. This support gave me the confidence to start ringing around. I quickly found an osteopath who knew about PGP and went for my first appointment at 38 weeks and 6 days, costing £45.
Victoria, the osteopath, treated me in less than an hour with an interview, examination and then massage. It was amazing how the pain, which I experienced at the front of my pelvis, had its source in the bottom of my back – Victoria found tenderness in places I didn’t even know existed! She explained how the pain came from muscles trying to compensate for a misalignment of the sacroiliac joints, and she worked to realign my pelvis to address the source of the problem.
Within a day I was completely pain-free.
I remember waking each morning for the last week of my pregnancy and saying to my husband in amazement, “I don’t hurt!”. It was like someone had just given me the gift of enjoying my life once more. By the end of the week, though, I was starting to feel a little achy again so I went back to the osteopath the day before my due date. Again, despite being ready to drop a baby any minute, Victoria massaged my back and relieved the tension.
That evening, I went into labour, and delivered a healthy baby at home on the stroke of midnight – without any need for pain-relieving drugs. I felt so good afterwards that baby Ashton and I went to my best friend’s wedding in London the very next day!
I am so very thankful that I stumbled (pardon the pun!) across the Pelvic Partnership – I have a feeling that Ashton’s arrival might have been a very different story without their support and information.
Thank you very much for sharing your story, Zettie. Although your midwife meant well, it was a good thing that you looked for help to relieve the symptoms of PGP because the pain and immobility rarely “pass” once the baby is born. Most women find that it is only through a full examination and treatment through manual therapy from an experienced healthcare professional that the symptoms are relieved. It is also really satisfying to see that you needed just one session from Victoria to realign your pelvis so that you were “completely pain-free” the next day.
Zettie went to see osteopath, Victoria Inglis-Smith, at the Luxton Clinic in Chinnor, Oxfordshire. The Luxton Clinic tel. is 01844 352200. www.theluxtonclinic.co.uk