Injured coccyx during childbirth, now much better

Nina, UK and Malta -

Posted 2016-12-18

I injured my coccyx during childbirth. It was a home birth, completely natural, so in many respects mine is a rare case as I have been told that often coccyx injury occurs with forceps or ventouse intervention. During the active part of labour I heard a loud 'click' and I knew it was my tailbone, I told my husband and the midwife - I was surprised that they did not hear it too as to me it sounded so loud! I was a bit worried about the next surge and whether I would have the courage to push since the last one had resulted in the loud cracking sound. So the midwife suggested that I sit on the toilet to open my pelvis and this helped, the rest of the delivery went by very smoothly! I say this just in case anybody else is in a similar situation!

However when I tried to sit in bed to breastfeed for the first time I realised I needed to shift my weight in order to not put pressure on the coccyx... there was a strong pain in certain sitting positions.

I learnt how to breastfeed lying down, and avoided sitting. I went to an osteopath in London who did not even send me for x-rays - in retrospect I was disappointed by this. My GP just looked a bit worried and told me I could take ibuprofen and paracetamol - hardly a solution. Finally I went to Malta for 2 months (where I am from) and visited a chiropractor who was recommended - Elaine Mcdougall (see Doctors and specialists in Malta). She sent me for x-rays and sure enough the coccyx bent backwards - the radiologist told me I would need an MRI to know if it was a fracture (broken) or a sprain (still connected by cartilage) - I have not had one so am still uncertain re the exact details of the injury.

Elaine Mcdougall chose to treat me with very gentle care. We did 4 sessions of Bowen Therapy and about 4 of gentle chiropractic massage on the muscles surrounding the coccyx in the hope that by releasing them it would move back. My trip came to an end and I returned to London (where I live) feeling a lot better but still aware that it was not completely better - a lot less pain, but some bruised sensation. If anyone is injured in Malta I do recommend Elaine Mcdougall.

Both Elaine and I found this website and found Michael Durtnall in London as one of the most recommended practitioners in this field (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, London). So I went to Michael at Sayers Clinics in London. Michael took x-rays of my whole spine - so the focus was not on the coccyx alone (which incidentally had improved since Dr. Mcdougall's treatment) but on my whole spine. There are various other issues that came to light, Michael recommended postural changes to rebalance my body post pregnancy and to adjust a kink in my neck. He manipulated the coccyx internally - and I did feel improvement almost immediately. I have been to Michael 3 times and I have also been seeing a physiotherapist at Sayers called Karolina Krzaczek who has worked on loosening all muscles connected to the coccyx - of which I have discovered there are many! I am not yet 100%, but I do feel like I am seeing the right people. Michael and Karolina are very knowledgeable in this field, they have treated this sort of injury many times and I feel in safe hands, I feel some hope! Which is a great relief as I endured 8 months of pain.

Update, 2019-05-12

Following my initial treatment with Michael Durtnall at Sayers Clinics I felt a lot better and took a break from treatment. I must have had about 6 appointments which led to no pain whatsoever, however sometimes the slightest reminder that something was not in the right place, a bruised feeling deep in my left buttock when I sat for too long e.g. on a flight. It was totally fine to live with.

In January 2019 I discovered that I was pregnant. I immediately felt slightly worried about my previous coccyx injury and how this would affect childbirth. I am not keen on having a ceaserean section if it can be avoided but of course want whatever is best for me and my baby.

I have been going to Sayer's Clinics in London quite frequently, about every 3 weeks on average throughout my pregnancy. I have seen Michael Durtnall for the coccyx treatment - he is manipulating it internally and keeping it moving, there is a bit of stiffness. And I have also seen Adele at Sayer's, a pelvic floor expert physiotherapist who has both tested and given exercises for pelvic floor which should also help.

I have spoken with an Obstetrician at North Middlesex Hospital and she has said that she doesn't see any reason not to aim for a natural child birth, other than if I felt any trauma / fear surrounding birth following my previous injury. I am also keeping active, cycling, swimming and doing yoga and pelvic floor exercises.

I am really pleased with all the help I am getting, both at Sayer's and at The Maternity Unit at North Middlesex Hospital because every treatment and conversation make me feel positive about giving birth vaginally. Of course as always with childbirth we shall have to wait and see. Fingers crossed.

I hope this gives courage to anyone who has had an injury in childbirth, that the initial trauma and fear can be greatly helped with the right professionals and the right conversations. I hope if any professionals read this they know to help patients to seek the right help because it is out there.

Update, 2020-07-19

Good news! Baby was born at home, vaginally, last September! Absolutely no coccyx issues, what a relief!

I ended up finding the wonderful Maya Midwives, independent Midwives in North London. Andy who helped deliver the baby was training in osteopathy besides being a very experienced midwife and she supported me in any way possible. She taught me and my partner 'spinning babies' which is various positions and techniques for turning the baby into optimal position without any painful intervention. This came in handy during labour when we discovered that baby was back to back (she suspected that my first son was too and that might have contributed to the long labour and coccyx injury) so we performed the spinning babies exercises and sure enough baby turned and was born almost immediately after, because he moved into optimal position.

Andy of Maya Midwives also accompanied me to an appointment with Dr Michael Durtnall. This was incredibly kind of both practitioners, Dr Durtnall explained to Andy the technique for loosening the coccyx so that if we felt it was necessary during labour she would be able to do it! Note that he had just had heart surgery and agreed to see us just because it was the last opportunity before my due date. The way these two practitioners went above and beyond to support me in this vulnerable time just before childbirth was overwhelming and I am convinced that that level of support also contributed to me feeling relaxed and confident when the day came.

Furthermore, Andy's midwife partner Alison supported me through guided meditations, raiki and havening, helping me to overcome any psychological obstacles. This also helped me to feel prepared and confident by the time my due date came.

The birth was quick (about 6 hours from first surge to meeting baby!) I felt a great relief when I knew that the baby had passed the tailbone area, was in the birth canal, and so all was well with my coccyx!

I felt great after giving birth, I really appreciate that with my first experience of childbirth the pain and fear associated with the coccyx injury affected those wonderful hormones that give a high and help a new mother to heal! Second time around with no injury I felt on top of the world!

I write this to let any women out there, who like me experienced a coccyx injury, know that it may not happen second time around! And that by finding the right support I felt ready to move forward into childbirth knowing that even if my tailbone were injured again it would be ok as I knew how to get help and what a difference that knowledge made!

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