Round Ligament Pain

Round ligament pain is a common, normal pregnancy symptom. These pregnancy spasms usually occur in the second trimester, as your uterus and surrounding ligaments stretch. Rest and gentle exercises may help, and you may want to avoid sudden movements. Call your provider if you have abdominal pain and symptoms like bleeding.


What is round ligament pain?

Round ligament pain is an uncomfortable sensation you may feel in your abdomen, hips or groin during pregnancy. Your round ligaments are two rope-like bands on each side of your uterus. Each one is about 10 to 12 centimeters long. They connect your uterus to your lower abdominal wall through your groin.

During pregnancy, the round ligaments are placed under tension as they support your growing uterus. This tension can cause pain, especially when you move suddenly.

Round ligament pain is a common and normal symptom of pregnancy. There’s no cause for worry. Talk to your pregnancy care provider if you experience round ligament pain and don’t find relief from resting or changing positions, or if the pain comes with vaginal bleeding or contractions.

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. It usually happens with sudden movements. People often describe round ligament pain as:

  • Aches.
  • Cramps.
  • Spasms.
  • Sharp, stabbing or pulling sensation.

Where do you feel round ligament pain?

The pain may occur on the lower part of your pelvis or in your groin area. It can occur on both sides or just one side. It typically lasts only a few seconds or minutes. It often happens repeatedly during the second trimester when your uterus begins to grow more quickly. If pain in your round ligament doesn’t go away after a few hours, call your healthcare provider.


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Possible Causes

What causes round ligament pain?

As your uterus expands during pregnancy, your round ligaments get longer and wider because they’re supporting your growing belly. This places tension on the ligaments and can cause them to ache. Additionally, your round ligaments typically contract and loosen slowly. So, when they’re already stretching, and you move suddenly, you’re making the round ligaments move and contract faster than they can.

Round ligament pain typically occurs when your uterus is enlarged, most commonly in pregnancy. But round ligament pain may also occur in people who aren’t pregnant. This could be a sign of endometriosis, when your uterine lining grows outside your uterus.

What aggravates round ligament pain?

Some of the more common triggers of round ligament pain occur when you move suddenly or abruptly. Understanding what triggers your round ligament pain and avoiding those movements can go a long way in feeling better.

Common triggers include:

  • Changing positions (like standing up too quickly).
  • Rolling over in bed or getting out of bed.
  • Sneezing, coughing or laughing.
  • Exercising.

Care and Treatment

What relieves round ligament pain?

There are several things you can do to ease any discomfort you feel due to round ligament pain. Some of those are:

  • Wear an elastic belly band to support your belly.
  • Stretch or do yoga to stretch the ligaments gently.
  • Rest.
  • Hold your belly or flex your hips when you sneeze, cough or laugh.
  • Take acetaminophen for severe pain.
  • Take a warm bath (not hot).
  • Avoid positions that worsen the pain.

While round ligament pain is usually harmless, it’s best to tell your provider about your symptoms so they can make sure it’s not something more serious.


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 such as:

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects and standing for long periods of time during pregnancy. This will help lessen the stress on your round ligaments.
  • If you think you’re about to laugh, sneeze or cough, try leaning forward first. Try placing your hands under or over your belly for support.
  • Move slowly when changing positions. Try to avoid standing, sitting or rolling over suddenly.
  • Try bending and flexing your 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.

Additionally, you can ask your provider if yoga or other gentle exercises could help you.

Does round ligament pain go away?

Yes, it goes away. Some people say round ligament pain subsides by about the third trimester. Others don’t experience complete relief until after delivery when hormone levels drop and your uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size.

When To Call the Doctor

When should I call my healthcare provider 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:


Additional Common Questions

What is the best position to sleep in with round ligament pain?

It’s common for round ligament pain to keep you from getting comfortable at night during pregnancy. Healthcare providers typically recommend lying on your side, with your legs drawn up and a pillow between your knees. You should try lying on the opposite side to where you feel the pain the most. Sometimes, placing a second pillow underneath your belly also helps.

What are the worst weeks for round ligament pain?

Pregnant people tend to begin feeling round ligament pain in the second trimester (from about 14 to 27 weeks) because your uterus is growing rapidly during this time. The exact time when it feels the worst varies from person to person.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Round ligament pain is common and normal during pregnancy. As your uterus and surrounding ligaments stretch and expand to make room for the fetus, it can cause short, painful spasms. Rest, changing positions and taking a warm bath may help. But call your healthcare provider if you have pain that won’t go away or pain with other symptoms like vaginal bleeding or contractions.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 03/29/2024.

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