Round Ligament Pain
What is round ligament pain?
Round ligament pain is an uncomfortable sensation in the abdomen, near the hips or into the groin area. It’s a “growing pain” that’s common and normal during pregnancy.
What are the round ligaments?
The round ligaments are like two cords or ropes on each side of the uterus (womb). Each one is about 10 to 12 centimeters long.
The ligaments connect the uterus to the pelvis and hold the uterus in place.
What does round ligament pain feel like?
Round ligament pain usually occurs during the second trimester of pregnancy (weeks 14 through 27). But it can appear earlier or later in pregnancy.
Women often describe round ligament pain as:
- 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).
What causes round ligament pain?
A woman’s body makes hormones during pregnancy to 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.
Care and Treatment
How can I treat round ligament pain?
If you experience frequent round ligament pain, try:
- Elastic belly band to support your baby bump.
- Acetaminophen (which is generally safe during pregnancy, but ask your healthcare provider to be sure).
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. This will 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.
Does round ligament pain affect my baby?
Round ligament pain is not dangerous for you or your baby. It’s not a sign of a problem or a symptom of a disease or complication.
Do these pregnancy cramps go away?
After pregnancy, hormone levels drop, and the uterus and surrounding ligaments return to pre-pregnancy size. So round ligament pain goes away after pregnancy.
When to Call the Doctor
When should I call my doctor for round ligament pain?
Abdominal pain can be a symptom of other conditions, whether you’re pregnant or not. Seek medical attention right away if you have abdominal pain and other symptoms, such as:
- Contractions, which could mean the baby is coming.
- Nausea or vomiting not related to morning sickness.
- Pain or pressure in the lower back, another sign of labor.
- Severe pain that doesn’t go away.
- Trouble walking.
- Vaginal discharge (any substance leaking from the vagina).
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Round ligament pain is common and normal during pregnancy. As the uterus and surrounding ligaments stretch to make room for baby, it can cause short, painful spasms. Rest and other home remedies may help. But call your healthcare provider if you have pain that won’t go away or pain and other symptoms.
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