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Lightning crotch: why it happens and what to do when it strikes

You’re going about your day, trying to live your best pregnant life when all of a sudden – ZAP! – out of nowhere, it feels like a sharp knife is stabbing you in the vagina. Kind of strange huh? Well, according to the experts, it’s not that peculiar and even has it’s own name: lightning crotch.

What is lightning crotch?

Lightning crotch is a common term used to describe a sharp, stabbing pain in the vaginal or pelvic area during pregnancy. It isn’t a sign of labour but it can be a sign that baby is moving down into your pelvis and getting ready for birth.

It is a common complaint during pregnancy and is usually caused by the baby’s position in the uterus putting pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the pelvic area.

When does it start?

Lightning crotch typically starts in the third trimester and may continue as you get closer to your due date. It can sometimes start earlier than the third trimester though, particularly if you’ve previously given birth.

What does it feel like?

The pain usually comes on suddenly and can last anywhere from 15 seconds up to a minute. Some women describe the feeling as a sudden and intense pain, like a short, sharp ZAP in your vagina and pelvic area. It’s also been described as a shooting pain that starts in the groin area and moves down the inner thigh.

However, other women have also said the feeling is more akin to a dull ache or burning sensation. The pain can sometimes be accompanied by other symptoms such as cramping, discomfort, or an increased need to urinate.

What can I do when it strikes?

Typically, lightning crotch stops as quickly as it starts. That’s not to say it isn’t painful when it does strike though. You are likely to find that when the zap does happen, you will have to stop any activity you’re doing until the pain passes. Some women have reported that stretching or gentle movement helps to ease the pain and shorten the lenght of the zap.

Wearing a pregnancy belt or belly band, especially in the third trimester, can also help reduce instances of lightning crotch as it alleviates the pressure on the pelvic area.

Other steps that might help reduce instances of lightning crotch include:

  • Taking frequent breaks to rest and stretch.
  • Practicing pelvic floor exercises to improve circulation and relieve tension.
  • Applying heat or cold to the affected area.
  • A warm bath.
  • Practicing good posture.
  • Wearing loose clothing.
  • Swimming
  • Pregnancy yoga or pilates.
  • Talking to your doctor about taking pain relievers or using a prenatal massage therapist. It’s always best to check with your doctor for specific recommendations and to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

If you are experiencing lightning crotch, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the cause and determine the best course of treatment. In some cases, simple measures such as rest or changing positions may help to relieve symptoms, while in others, medical intervention may be necessary.

Birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. You should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.

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