Round Ligament Pain During Pregnancy: What to Know

Round Ligament Pain During Pregnancy: What to Know

Are you experiencing round ligament pain during pregnancy? You’re not alone. We’ll take you through what causes it and how to manage it. Read on.
Between 10 and 30 percent of mamas-to-be experience what’s known as round ligament pain during pregnancy.

But what is it? And what can you do about it?

In this article: 📝

  • What causes round ligament pain?
  • At what stage of pregnancy does round ligament pain start?
  • What does pregnancy round ligament pain feel like?
  • How do you know if it’s round ligament pain?
  • What can you do for round ligament pain when pregnant?
  • Round ligament pain during pregnancy: the bottom line

What causes round ligament pain?

Round ligaments are thick pieces of tissue that support your uterus.

They’re a bit like lengths of rope, and you have two of them, one on either side.

Each one is around four inches long.

As your baby grows, your uterus expands.

That puts pressure on the round ligaments and means they stretch too.

That, in turn, can affect how they behave, with sometimes painful results.

Before your uterus begins to grow, your round ligaments expand and contract gradually.

But once they’ve stretched, things can happen much more suddenly.

And when those overstretched ligaments tighten fast, they can pull on surrounding nerve endings.

That’s what causes the pain.

The good news, though, is that while none of this is fun, it’s all perfectly normal.

And it won’t harm you or your baby.

At what stage of pregnancy does round ligament pain start?

Round ligament pain early in pregnancy is unlikely to happen.

That’s because, at that point, your uterus won’t have expanded enough to stretch your round ligaments very much.

For some women, that changes around the end of the first trimester.

But most people with round ligament pain find that it starts a little later, around week fourteen.

It’s usually at its worst during the second trimester and gets easier afterward.

But sometimes, unfortunately, it continues until your baby is born.

What does pregnancy round ligament pain feel like?

So what does round ligament pain feel like?

It often takes the form of a sudden sharp pain or pulling sensation in your lower abdomen or groin.

It’s slightly more common on the right-hand side.

That’s because your uterus rotates to the right during pregnancy to accommodate your bowel on the left.

But the pain can be felt on the left, or on both sides too.

It’s often brief, lasting for just a few seconds as the ligaments spasm.

And unlike ordinary stomach cramps, it often eases when you shift position.

But it can also be a longer-lasting, duller ache.

That’s particularly likely to be the case after you’ve exercised, or if you’ve had a busy day.

How do you know if it’s round ligament pain?

If you’re thinking all this sounds a lot like stomach cramps, you’re right.

And it’s not all that easy to tell the difference between the two.

Usually, though, round ligament pain is more closely related to your body’s position.

You might feel it when you exercise, or when you cough, sneeze or laugh.

Particular movements can trigger it, like turning over in bed or standing up quickly.

And while it’s usually brief, it can return multiple times.

If the pain is more severe, it’s important to get it checked out.

Lower abdominal pain during pregnancy isn’t always caused by stretched round ligaments.

So it’s important your doctor takes a look to rule out anything more serious.

Other issues alongside abdominal or groin pain during pregnancy could mean something else is going on.

Symptoms to watch out for include chills, fever, pain when you pee, nausea, vomiting, or difficulty walking.

If you experience any of these, contact a doctor immediately.

They could relate to appendicitis, kidney or liver problems, issues with the placenta, or preterm labor.

What can you do for round ligament pain when pregnant?

Round ligament pain during pregnancy might be perfectly normal.

But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer it in silence.

There are plenty of steps you can take both to prevent it and to relieve it when it kicks in.

Take it slow

Round ligament pain during pregnancy is often triggered by sharp movements.

And getting to know your triggers can help you manage the pain.

If you often find that turning over in bed causes the pain to kick in, try to do it extra slowly.

And if exercise is the problem, reduce the intensity of your workout.

Gentle stretching exercises can reduce the discomfort too.

Doing them every day can help support your round ligaments — but don’t sweat it if you’re not feeling up to it.

Listen to your body, and rest when you need to.

Prenatal yoga is another good option.

And giving your hip a quick flex when you feel a sneeze coming can help avoid the shooting pain.

If there’s no time for that, lean forwards and support your bump with your hands.

Get plenty of rest

Taking it slow is fine — but sometimes, mama, you need a complete rest.

Putting your feet up is one of the best remedies for round ligament pain.

It will help swollen ankles and feet too.

And try to avoid standing for long periods or lifting heavy loads.

That can put more strain on your round ligaments, meaning more pain.

Support your tum

Giving your belly extra support is another good way to ease the discomfort of round ligament pain.

A maternity belt, also known as a belly band, is designed to do exactly that.

You wear it under your clothes, so no one will even know it’s there.

Check out our recommendations for this and other pregnancy must-haves.

Pain relief

There are also things you can do to relieve the pain when it starts.

A warm water bottle (not too hot) or heating pad is often very effective.

A warm bath can work wonders too.

And gently massaging your tummy is another good option.

If those aren’t cutting it, talk to your doctor about pain medication.

Some over-the-counter options like acetaminophen (Tylenol) are usually considered safe to use during pregnancy.

Round ligament pain during pregnancy: the bottom line

Round ligament pain during pregnancy can be unpleasant, but it isn’t serious.

And there are plenty of steps you can take to ease the discomfort.

But if you’re worried, or the pain is severe, consult your doctor.

There are lots of possible causes of a painful tum, so it pays to be cautious.

Your doctor will be able to check you out and make sure there’s nothing else going on.

And if you need support along the way, your Peanut community is here for you.

All the best, mama.

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