Pregnancy brings with it a host of new aches and pains, many of which you have never felt before. One of these, round ligament pain, is incredibly common and is most commonly present during the second trimester, or the period between the third and sixth month of pregnancy.
What Are Round Ligaments and Why Do They Hurt?
Round ligaments are a series of cord-like tissues that surround your uterus. Your uterus will grow tremendously during your pregnancy, and some of the hormones that your body will produce naturally serve to thicken and strengthen these ligaments to support the weight of your uterus as it grows. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of this is round ligament pain, and you may experience it on one side or both. While most women notice it during the second trimester, others have persistent pain that lasts until after delivery.
What Are the Symptoms?
Before you self-diagnose yourself with round ligament pain, it is important that you understand the symptoms so that you don’t miss what could be a more serious condition. As always, it is important to discuss any pain that you may have during your pregnancy with your obstetrician.
Generally, the symptoms of round ligament pain during pregnancy include a sudden spasm in the belly that produces a sharp, stabbing pain. It generally occurs on the right side of the body but it can also occur on the left or on both sides at the same time. It only lasts a few seconds, but some women experience a bit of residual aching after an “attack”.
What Exacerbates Round Ligament Pain?
While there really isn’t much that you can do to completely prevent round ligament pain, it may help to know what can exacerbate it. Things like laughing, coughing, or sneezing can cause the pain to appear, and in some cases, the simple act of standing up or rolling over in bed can be painful. Though exercise in general can cause it, you should never avoid exercise during pregnancy unless you are advised to do so by your obstetrician. Exercise is a healthy part of your everyday routine, even during pregnancy.
How to Treat and Relieve Round Ligament Pain
Since there isn’t usually much that you can do to avoid round ligament pain, the best course of action is to treat it at home under the guidance of your doctor. You can usually take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, during pregnancy.
You might also try exercises that are designed to strengthen your core and take some of the pressure off of your round ligaments. Heating pads may also help, as may a warm bath, but be careful not to make the water temperature too hot. Bending and flexing the hips prior to coughing, sneezing, or laughing can also reduce some of the discomfort.
As always, it is important to call your doctor if you experience any pain that lasts longer than a few minutes, if you develop severe pain, if you have a fever, if it hurts to urinate, or if you have trouble walking normally. All of these things indicate an issue other than round ligament pain of which your doctor should be aware. Contact SouthLake OB/GYN and Advanced Surgery today to schedule your consultation.