What is DSP?

DSP is short for Diastasis Symphysis Pubis. What this means in plain English is that the soft joint in the middle of the pelvic bone has softened and stretched slightly. This is normal during labour as this loosening of the joint allows the baby's head and body to enter through the birth canal.

Any bosy who has had a baby knows that labour hurts like hell. However, from my own personal experience, the pain stems mainly from this separation of the pelvic bones rather than the contractions themselves.

People who suffer with DSP as an illness will begin to or continue to have pain in the pelvic area outside of the labour.

DSP can occur as early as 12 weeks into the pregnancy. Certain ethnic groups are more likely to suffer. Black women, and those of mixed-black/white origin are more likely to suffer than English and Asian women. This is often attributed to the slightly different shaped pelvic bone structure in black women. However, some research has also pointed to a high incidence of Scandanavian women with DSP.

(In my case I had bad luck on both counts being mixed black and Danish!)

Women who complain of abdomen pain early into their second trimester should be watched carefully for the other signs of DSP, namely pain whilst walking, using stairs and standing on one leg. If symptoms are acute medical attention should be sought IMMEDIATELY and do not let the doctors or consultants fob you off. It is not just the health of the baby that is important during pregnancy!

If crutches are given then it is important to use them; however, bed rest is very important as the more strain that is put onto these weakened joints the more likelihood of serious internal damage being done. Do not let anyone pressurise you into walking when you do not feel up to it.

Insist on seeing an obstetric physiotherapist as early as possible. A Fembrace may help ease the pain, but beware, they do not always help.

If your doctor, consultant or midwife does not know about DSP, then give them as much information as you possibly can, so that they can give you the right treatment. There are now specific guidelines for the treatment of DSP during pregnancy and you have a right to relevant care.

Further details can be requested from the National Childbirth Trust if you send a donation of at least 2 or if you join them. They can be contacted on; 0181 992 8637 or at Alexandra House, Oldham Terrace, Acton, London W3 6NH

1999 Kirstein Powell-Hutchison; Coventry, UK