While certain pregnancy symptoms are expected, like morning sickness and backaches, others may take you by surprise. One such complaint is round ligament pain, a sharp spasm caused by the stretching of the ligaments holding the uterus in place. If you or someone you love is pregnant, then it is a good idea to know why round ligament pain occurs, and what can be done to alleviate the discomfort.
Before pregnancy, your uterus is about the size of a pear, supported by thick, short, round ligaments. As the uterus grows – eventually to the size of a beach ball – the round ligaments stretch to support the additional weight. Picture a rubber band stretched to its maximum capacity. This stretching can pull on nerve fibers, causing sharp pain that feels like a muscle spasm. While most instances of round ligament pain early pregnancy are brief, some women may experience an ongoing soreness at the sides of the abdomen.
While round ligament pain can occur at any time, it’s most common when you are switching positions, such as getting into or out of a car or standing up after a long period of sitting. Sudden movements, as well as coughing and sneezing, can also trigger this pain, caused by an abrupt tightening of the stretched ligaments. This type of pain most commonly manifests in the second trimester, though it can sometimes begin earlier and/or persist through the third trimester.
If you’re troubled by round ligament pain, self-care methods often help. Note the activities that most often cause this type of pain, and modify your movements accordingly. For example, move slower than you normally would, and avoid sudden, sharp motions. You can also try lying down with your knees flexed toward your abdomen or laying on your side with a pillow under your belly for support. Some women find relief by using an abdominal support band, soaking in a warm bath, or taking a swim.
Since abdominal pain can have other, more serious causes during pregnancy, it’s important to see our doctor if you experience severe pain or cramping that continues even when you’re resting; lower back pain; pressure in the pelvic area; vaginal bleeding or discharge; nausea or vomiting; fever or chills; or pain or burning during urination.
Preterm labor contractions are sometimes mistaken for round ligament pain, so always call our OB/GYN if you’re concerned about what you’re feeling. South Lake OB/GYN is here to help you every step of the way in your pregnancy journey. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.