One of our Trustees, Becky, has kindly shared a letter she wrote to her future self early in her second pregnancy with Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP). Since writing this letter she managed her pregnancy much better than she had expected as she accessed ‘hands-on’ treatment as soon as her PGP symptoms started. She went on to have a healthy baby girl at home in a birthing pool, helped by supportive midwives. She felt more in control second time around, adapting her life and continuing with treatment throughout her pregnancy. Following the birth she had a couple of treatment sessions to address her remaining niggles and then spent the first year focussing on re-building her core strength and attending regular Pilates classes. She is now going to body pump classes and physically blooming, and enjoying life as a busy mother of two.
‘Dear PGP coping self,
This letter is to remind you that there is life after PGP. When you are in the midst of it and a long pregnancy stretches ahead of you it can seem like there is no end. The mental scars of what you went through before heal a lot more slowly than your pelvis did, even though that took a long time (until you got the right treatment). The temptation to give into fear is great, but you do not need to be afraid. This too shall pass. You know what to do now. Shake off the blues and the despair and be proactive. Make a list: what can I do to get over this? and work through that list. Even when you feel hopeless and like you have exhausted every avenue, there is always another option. You won’t feel like doing this, but force yourself. The rest will follow in time, I promise.
1. Manual therapy. Keep going; never stop; travel if you need to. Beg, steal, borrow.
2. Communicate. Tell your family what support you need to get your treatment. Tell them how much you need them. Make them understand. Don’t struggle alone, don’t internalise. Be real, be authentic. If they were in your position and you understood what it meant, you would move mountains to help them; when they understand, they will do the same. Hold your centre; don’t make excuses for yourself. You are here with PGP and that’s a fact. You are in need of help and that’s a fact. Shake off your judgment of yourself. Move forwards with logic.
3. Be compassionate to yourself. This has happened to you again and that sucks. Cry. It’s ok to feel cheated, it’s ok to feel sad, you are not weak. This is not your fault. It did not happen because you are too old, or too fat, or not fit enough. You know that from last time. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.
4. Let go of the idea of yourself as a super fit, super fun mum. You have limitations now, work with them. Practise acceptance.
5. Be creative. Is something frustrating you? Not able to achieve something? Brainstorm it. What equipment could you use to get around it? If you were a millionaire what would you do? Get a credit card and say f*&k it! This isn’t forever and it’s better to pay off money later than deal with the mental health problems from being miserable. Get an au pair, get a cleaner, get some perspective. You can’t take it with you when you go.
6. Remember that this is a growing experience. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. This might sound like rubbish now, but one day you will realise strength does not come from physical ability, or even mental resilience. The beauty of strength through vulnerability and compassion is something you are learning right now and this lesson will shape your life. You will carry it with you in all your days to come.
7. Seek out coping strategies. Meditate. List your blessings every day. Seek spiritual balm in nature. Treat yourself to facials and hot baths and be unapologetically indulgent. Look at your babies and remember why you are doing this.
8. Do not worry, this will end! You have much more knowledge now. You have access to people who know in the Pelvic Partnership. You know when something isn’t right and you know when it’s time for a second opinion. You can do this, this will end. Your body will recover, so will your mind. Be kind to yourself.’
Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts and ideas during your second pregnancy with PGP Becky. We hope this powerful letter inspires other women with PGP who may be contemplating further pregnancies, and remind all of us that PGP is something we can work with and overcome, while being kind to ourselves and allowing ourselves to ask for help and care when we need it.