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. It’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. 

Funny how babies can change your life before they’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. I’ve known people who’ve done it, and of course who can forget the mom who managed the Chicago marathon at 39 weeks (I’m still not sure if she’s an inspiration or just a show-off). I wasn’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 I’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 didn’t call it SPD (a friend in the Mom365 community provided that insight), she empathized with my agony, saying she had experienced the same thing with her first pregnancy. It’s so nice when doctors can personally understand, don’t you think? (Side note: She also told me she didn’t have the pain with her second pregnancy because she didn’t actually have time to jog! I love it when doctors fail to be model patients.) Anyway, apparently SPD doesn’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. You’re heading off into an early retirement. And I’m off to find an ice pack to sit on.