Pregnancy can cause all kinds of aches and pains and round ligament pain is one of the most common complaints. It’s that sharp pain in your lower belly or groin area that often feels like someone is giving you a serious jab! It can occur on either side of your belly and can make everyday tasks like working out or taking a walk uncomfortable.
So, what exactly is round ligament pain, and what causes it? According to the Mayo Clinic, “The round ligaments are a pair of cordlike structures in the pelvis that help support the uterus by connecting the front of the uterus to the groin region.” As the trimesters progress, the ligaments become flexible and stretch causing nerve fibers to tighten. This is what gives women during pregnancy those sharp pains in the abdominal and pelvic regions.
What does round ligament pain feel like?
Women often describe round ligament pain as aches, cramps, or a sharp, stabbing or pulling sensation.
The pain may occur on one side of the body or both sides. It usually lasts only a few seconds, but it can last hours. It often happens repeatedly during the second trimester. Round ligament pain may worsen when you move suddenly (for example, standing or sitting quickly, sneezing, coughing or laughing).
How do I know if I'm experiencing round ligament pain?
You may feel round ligament pain as a short, sharp, or stabbing pain when you suddenly change position, such as when you're getting out of bed or a chair. It may also feel like tugging or pulling in the pelvic area. You may feel it when you cough, roll over in bed, or get out of the bathtub. And it may even strike as a dull ache after a particularly active day, like when you've been walking a lot or doing a lot of physical activity. Round ligament pain may feel like it starts deep inside your groin and moves upward and outward on either side to the top of your hips. The pain is internal, but if you were to trace it on your skin, it would follow the bikini line on a very high-cut bathing suit.
How long does round ligament pain last?
The sharp, jabbing sensation of round ligament pain shouldn't last longer than the few seconds it takes you to change position or get up.
Does walking help round ligament pain?
Walking is one of the best things you can do for round ligament pain. Take deep breaths using your diaphragm as you walk. This helps to loosen up some of the tension on the abdominal cavity and the tissue —including the round ligament. The body and tissues LOVE movement to keep them from sticking to one another.
What causes round ligament pain?
Your body produces hormones during pregnancy that make ligaments loose and stretchy. This helps the body adjust to the growing baby. As a baby grows in the womb, it stretches the uterus and the round ligaments. This stretching can cause spasms in the round ligaments, leading to the pain. Round ligament pain occurs almost exclusively in pregnancy. But rarely, round ligament pain may occur in women who are not pregnant. This could be a sign of endometriosis, when the uterine lining grows outside the uterus.
How can I prevent round ligament pain?
It’s not always possible to prevent round ligament pain. But you may be able to reduce the sudden movements that sometimes cause the pain:
- Avoid lifting heavy things and standing for long periods of time during pregnancy to help lessen the stress on the uterus and round ligaments.
- If you think you’re about to laugh, sneeze or cough, try leaning forward first. Try placing your hands under your baby bump for support.
- Stretch your hips gently every day. Ask your doctor if yoga for pregnant women is right for you.
- Take your time changing positions. Try to avoid standing, sitting or rolling over suddenly.
- Try bending and flexing the hips throughout the day. Or try this floor stretch daily: Put your hands and knees on the floor. Lower your head toward the floor. Keep your butt in the air.
Talk to your healthcare provider about exercise during pregnancy.
Several Ways to Alleviate Round Ligament Pain
For starters, many experts recommend round ligament stretches that flex/unlock the hips to help ease the aches. This type of exercise can help is neutralize the pressure in the pelvic region. As every pregnancy is different and not all pain is the same, we always recommend contacting your medical professional, personal trainer, or pregnancy fitness expert before you start an exercise program.
Another great idea is to invest in a maternity belt that can help mitigate round ligament pain. BELLY BANDIT® offers two products that can help provide round ligament pain relief during pregnancy: the 2-in-1 Bandit™.
The 2-in-1 Bandit™ is intended for support during and after pregnancy. Just like the Upsie Belly®, this wrap stabilizes the pelvic region by limiting the mobility of pelvic joints. It also is a great maternity belt that supports pregnant bellies to relieve back and belly pain. The extra special aspect of this belt is that you can use it as a postpartum hip wrap, hence the 2-in-1 label.
Although round ligament pain is anything but a walk in the park, treating it is not impossible. The good news is that many pregnant women find these options successful in alleviating their pain. However, if the pain becomes unbearable, you should immediately contact your medical provider for assistance.
Learn more about Round Ligament Pain and other ailments during and after Pregnancy we can help with at bellybandit.com.
When should I call my doctor for round ligament pain?
Although round ligament pain is a common – and harmless – pregnancy complaint, abdominal pain can be a sign of a serious problem, such as preterm labor, severe preeclampsia, placental abruption, or a medical problem unrelated to pregnancy, like appendicitis. Don't hesitate to call your provider any time abdominal pain during pregnancy continues after a short rest or is accompanied by:
- Severe pain or cramping
- More than four contractions in an hour (even if they don't hurt) or a contraction that doesn't end
- Lower back pain (especially if you didn't previously have back pain) or an increase in pressure in the pelvic area (a feeling that your baby is pushing down)
- Vaginal bleeding, spotting, or a change in the type or amount of vaginal discharge
- Fever, chills, faintness, or nausea and vomiting
- Pain or burning when you urinate