Pelvic girdle pain, or PGP, is one of those conditions that can in some cases, unfortunately, lead others to make impolite or outright rude comments on it.
"I don't believe you."
Most pregnant women who have suffered from PGP, which is quite common during pregnancy but varies in severity, have heard others dismiss their experience by saying that pain is “typical” and “to be expected” during pregnancy. Some of these people are well-meaning while others are not, but either way no one wants to be told that the pain is acceptable. It's almost weird to think about, but these types of comments are pretty common:
"It can't be that bad."
"Just put on your big girl panties and get on with it."
"My aunt/friend/girl I met on the bus had PGP and just did yoga/acupuncture/snake oil supplement and was cured in days!" (p.s. I'm not saying some of this can't help with the mild/moderate cases, it can, but usually the PGP sufferer will have already tried a lot of ways to ease the pain.)
"But you look so healthy."
I'm pretty sure some of you can add to this list.
If you are suffering from pelvic girdle pain, you probably should spend a few minutes deciding how you intend to handle those types of comments, so that you are prepared beforehand and don‘t get stuck in an awkward conversation. Of course, there is no reason for you to address the issue at all, if you don‘t want to. With strangers or acquaintances, you can smile and change the conversation or just walk away from it, but that is not so easy to do when it comes to family members. Still, you may find that you want a way to explain the pain quickly to people who you see often but aren’t family. Do a little research and come up with a two or three sentence explanation that you can give. Practice it and pull it out whenever the lady in your department at work starts telling you about how nobody “likes” being pregnant as a way to dismiss your suffering. You don't have to be rude or sarcastic, and by all means try to avoid lengthy conversations about PGP with people who aren't close friends or family, because they will in 95% cases leave you feeling irritated.
More in-depth conversation with family and close friends
Of course, dealing with your family and close friends is a different matter, particularly if you are having significant pain from PGP and it‘s affecting your ability to make it through the day or to walk easily. At that point, you will need to discuss the problem with your family so that you can work on a solution. Ask your doctor for any brochures on pelvic girdle pain (previously called symphysis pubis dysfunction), so that you can use the information to show your loved ones. If you‘re having trouble taking care of your home or older children, don‘t be shy asking for help. You shouldn‘t have to be in pain AND feel guilty over not being able to do the chores you normally do. If your pelvic girdle pain is severe and your family or friends can‘t help out, you can try to contact the social services and see if they can provide assistance. Organizations like Pelvic Partnership might be able to point you in the right direction.
The difference between long term pain and short term discomfort
Talk to your partner or your family about exactly how it feels. While a certain amount of discomfort is common during pregnancy because of changes in body weight and centre of balance, pain is not normal. Discomfort and pain are not the same, and you need to be able to explain that to the people around you. Also tell them what you need. If you need someone to take over making dinner or need help getting in and out of the shower, let someone know.