BBC News UK Edition
    You are in: Health  
News Front Page
N Ireland
Medical notes
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
 Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 00:35 GMT
'Pregnancy put me in a wheelchair'
Lia and baby Ezra
Lia was unable to comfort Ezra when he cried

Before pregnancy Lia was fit and active, snow-boarding and cycling.

But after just 22 weeks of pregnancy she was wheelchair bound.

She was unable to move around her house-boat unaided, and even getting to the toilet became a struggle.

For Lia had symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), a condition caused when the pregnancy hormone relaxin causes the pelvic ligaments to slacken so much that the front of the pelvic girdle - the symphysis pubis - separates.


Even the smallest movement left Lia in agony.

"I had shooting pains around the pelvis. I could feel it moving every time I moved in bed.

"It got so bad that I had to call an ambulance. I couldn't even get to the loo.

"It is a devastating condition. Some people who have it end up having breakdowns, some even commit suicide."

As a woman your whole body feels as if it is a failure


Things got so bad that Lia had to move from London to live with her parents in Devon for much of her pregnancy.

"I was incapacitated for about a year and a half.

A graphic showing the symphysis pubis
The symphysis pubis separates in pregnancy

"Initially even just being in a wheelchair was horrendous, if the wheelchair went over a bump it would feel like someone had broken parts of your body."

Although she had a natural birth, Lia was terrified, knowing that just one wrong movement would leave her in agony.


Doctors told her the condition would clear up after pregnancy, but Lia was still unable to walk unaided after having baby Ezra.

She said that no-one seemed able to offer her constructive advice about a cure and many specialists told her there was nothing they could do.

Lia found she was unable to have sex, hug her husband or care properly for Ezra - she began to feel a failure as a woman.

"I found it really hard to breast feed Ezra because I could not get comfortable.

Lia and Ezra
Even the smallest movement caused agony

"When he cried anyone else was able to comfort him by picking him up when he was crying, but I felt such a failure as a woman.

"I couldn't have sex. You can't bear to part your legs.

"Your whole body feels as if it is a failure. You don't feel as if you can be a proper wife.

I felt like I did not have a proper body and I couldn't even bear my husband to hug me.

"I felt like I was never going to have a happy sex-life again."


A physio suggested that Lia had an operation to take a graft from her hip and put it into the symphysis pubis to stop it moving, but she was reluctant to have surgery as it is not guaranteed to solve the problems.

Then she discovered a classical osteopath Quentin Shaw, who said her condition was probably linked to an injury she had sustained before she became pregnant.

After just one session he had Lia walking again.

"I went up to the practice on crutches, but I walked out normally."

Lia is now well on the road to recovery, she has been trekking in Spain and hopes to soon be able to get fit enough to snow-board again.

Lia says she is now even considering having another baby.

See also:

24 Sep 02 | Health
22 Mar 01 | Health
01 Oct 02 | Health
11 Sep 00 | Health
06 Nov 02 | Health
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |