Round ligament pain is a perfectly normal problem to encounter in the second trimester of pregnancy. However, it can significantly impact on quality of life. Here are the key facts you need to know about identifying round ligament pain, along with six tips that will help you reduce its severity.
What is round ligament pain?
When you’re pregnant, thick ligaments surround your uterus as it gradually expands. The round ligament is found where the top of your legs meet the base of your pelvis, and it stretches to accommodate your growing baby. While this is vital for womb support, it makes the ligament more susceptible to strains, and it can also irritate nearby nerves.
Round ligament pain is sharp, jabbing or pinching in nature. You’ll typically feel it in the lower abdomen or around the groin area, and it can occur quite suddenly but only lasts a few minutes. For most women, this discomfort is right-sided, but it can be bilateral. Any sudden movement can lead to pain, as these movements cause a quick tightening. Exercise is a common cause of sudden pain, along with coughing, sneezing, changing position in bed, and even laughing.
Treating round ligament pain
It’s always smart to discuss the source of your pain with your doctor, just to be sure that the round ligament is the cause. Once diagnosed, your doctor may suggest painkillers that are safe to take during pregnancy. However, there are also plenty of effective treatment strategies you can try at home.
- Arch your lower back
Put your hands and knees flat on the floor, and then lower your head down towards your hands. Next, push your lower back and backside into the air, gently pressing into the stretch.
- Use warmth
A warm bath can soothe general aches and pains, including those in the round ligament. Some women also like to use a heating pad, though this should only be moderately warm rather than hot (as high temperatures may pose a risk to your baby).
- Flex your hips
If you think you’re going to cough or sneeze, bend your hips first. This helps to avoid straining the round ligaments, potentially sparing you an episode of sharp pain.
- Favor the opposite side
If your round ligament pain is one-sided, make a habit of sleeping on the opposite side if you can.
- Strengthen your core
Any form of exercise that promotes core strength is bound to help round ligament pain. As with sciatica, prenatal yoga can be helpful, as can Pilates routines. If in any doubt about the safety of an exercise, check with your doctor first.
- Move carefully
While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid the aforementioned triggers of round ligament pain, you can help yourself by changing position more carefully–for example, stand up slowly, sit down gradually, and never just flip from one side to the other in bed.
Do you have any other strategies or useful exercises for treating round ligament pain? Let us know!