Officially my first ‘pelvic pain’ was felt around 14 weeks, but my pregnancy waddle and back ache started around 10 weeks – before I really appreciated what PGP was.
I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome so I was aware that PGP was likely but I wasn’t aware that it could be felt in more places than literally the front of the pubic bone. I found out about the condition from the Ehlers Danlos Charity and the Pelvic Partnership built my knowledge.
My understanding of all the places that PGP can be felt didn’t develop until I found the Pelvic Partnership after a random Google search somewhere between week 14 and 16, when I realised that I’d been suffering since trimester 1.
After finding the Pelvic Partnership website I felt confident to raise it in my week 16 midwife appointment and I was referred to NHS physio straight away. Meanwhile I also sought out the recommended practitioners list from the website after I asked a question on the Pelvic Partnership Facebook group and found someone near to where I work. I saw them from 18 weeks in tandem with an NHS physio since week 19 of my pregnancy.
I responded hugely well to the treatment which I’ve also paired with exercise suited to me and my condition. This has kept me more mobile than others with my collection of medical challenges.
Because of the EDS and other pre-existing hip problems the manual therapy and exercise combination is needed on an ongoing basis to keep me at a steady state of mobile-ish but not pain free.
I used a belt to support my pelvis which was effective from week 20 to around week 26.
In week 29 of pregnancy I transitioned to crutches.
I kept up with exercise, manual therapy and I could still drive until 37 weeks.
Some days were better than others – usually when I’ve had manual therapy and had extra time to rest but psychologically PGP took a huge toll that I didn’t realise until I’d delivered my daughter.
I was authorised to have stretch and sweeps from 38 weeks, and had an induction booked on my due date – to give me an end date. However, after sweep 3 and at 39+5 I spontaneously delivered my daughter vaginally.
I ensured that my PGP was well documented in my birth plan and we made the unfortunate decision that I couldn’t have a water birth because my care team couldn’t be confident that I could get in and out of the water safely. However, I managed to deliver. All my care team were very aware of my requirements and adapted with no fuss. After a short stay in hospital post birth, I walked out carrying my crutches under my arm.
The brain fog associated with endless pain has lifted. That doesn’t mean I’m fixed at 1 week post partum. I don’t need the crutches however, getting around is still slow and I still need my slippy bed sheet and a pillow between my legs on the rare occasion that I’m able to sleep.
When I’m able I’ll go back for more manual therapy and get back to exercise, but for now, I’m enjoying the utter devotion I feel for my baby and carefully managing my recovery.
I wish I’d known at the start that ‘taking the crutches isn’t quitting.’ If I’d asked for crutches even a month earlier it would probably have made for some much easier experiences when leaving the house or going to the supermarket than just ‘coping’ and having to cut trips short because I had nothing left.
I also wish I’d recognised how mentally unwell the PGP made me and sought additional help sooner. I’m sure everyone else could see it and I thought I was coping – I suppose I was coping. But I was coping at the expense of losing myself into an abyss of antenatal depression, ignoring household chores, striving to do my day job and attend antenatal classes to convince myself that I was managing and that being pregnant was the angelic bliss everyone else makes it appear. I should have acknowledged sooner that I was struggling to be pregnant and talked about it. I didn’t want to admit it because I felt like I was being ungrateful for the blessing bestowed upon me – especially after living through pregnancy loss too.
My one message to someone else in the same boat is – if you are struggling, please find someone to talk to and get it out. You’re not a bad person for struggling with pregnancy. It’s not a weakness and definitely doesn’t show you’re ungrateful or don’t love your baby.