To Run or Not to Run?
Back pain, itchy belly, stretch marks: these are the common pregnancy complaints with which I was previously familiar. Now I have one to add to the list: Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), aka what I like to call achy crotch syndrome.
Affecting as many as one in four women during their pregnancies, SPD is basically pain caused by a pelvis ligament (your symphysis pubis) becoming misaligned as a result of the joints relaxing in anticipation of childbirth. It can go on to bother your back, legs, and hips, and can be quite severe. Itâ€™s sometimes responsible for the waddling gait some expecting moms acquire; I had no idea those duck-like moms might be in significant pain!
The early signs of what appears to be SPD are killing my best-laid prenatal fitness plans.Â
Funny how babies can change your life before theyâ€™re even of this world! I was in half-marathon shape when I found out I was pregnant, and I immediately set a goal to keep running throughout my pregnancy. Iâ€™ve known people whoâ€™ve done it, and of course who can forget the mom who managed the Chicago marathon at 39 weeks (Iâ€™m still not sure if sheâ€™s an inspiration or just a show-off). I wasnâ€™t aiming for anything like that, just envisioning myself maintaining my cardiovascular fitness with short runs a few times a week.
Then came the afternoon after my first 24-week run. My whole crotch ached. Walking was painful. It felt like Iâ€™d been trotting on a pony for a couple of hours. The next few attempts were the same: the actual runs were fine (just a little annoying due to urgently-required bathroom breaks every mile), but I paid the price each afternoon and evening. I think I might even have temporarily gone a bit bow-legged!
Fearing I might be doing damage to my cervix or other important baby-growing part, I mentioned the situation to my OB, a mom of two in her early 30s. While she didnâ€™t call it SPD (a friend in the Mom365 communityÂ providedÂ thatÂ insight), she empathized with my agony, saying she had experienced the same thing with her first pregnancy. Itâ€™s so nice when doctors can personally understand, donâ€™t you think? (Side note: She also toldÂ me she didnâ€™t have the pain with her second pregnancy because she didnâ€™t actually have time to jog! I love it when doctors fail to be model patients.) Anyway, apparently SPD doesnâ€™t threaten the pregnancy at all, but what mama wants to endure a seriously sore birth canal in the name of fitness, rather than baby birthing?! No one I know.
So sayonara, running shoes. Youâ€™re heading off into an early retirement. And Iâ€™m off to find an ice pack to sit on.
Katie Quirk Dunyon is a mom of two, a boy and a girl. She lives and writes in Seattle, WA.