Before you get pregnant nobody really tells you about the pains you may have to deal with when growing a tiny human. But there can be a whole lot of discomfort when your body is being stretched to accommodate a whole ‘nother person, particularly in the tummy area. So we’re here to share all about round ligament pain aka “growing pains“…
What is round ligament pain?
Round ligament pain refers to a typical discomfort experienced by many mums-to-be during pregnancy and is often referred to as “growing pains”.
The round ligaments are two bands of tissue that run from the front of the uterus to the groin, and they help support the uterus as it grows during pregnancy. As the uterus expands, it puts pressure on the round ligaments, which can cause stretching and mild pain or discomfort in the lower tummy area, groin, or hips.
It’s important to note that round ligament pain is very common and is not dangerous to you or your baby.
What causes the pain?
When it comes to the cause of pregnancy symptoms, the answer is nearly always hormones. In this instance, the hormone relaxin causes the ligaments to be looser in order to allow your bump to grow. As the uterus continues to grow, the ligaments can go into spasm due to all the stretching which causes the pain.
Round ligament pain is usually felt on one or both sides of the lower abdomen, and it can feel like a sharp, shooting pain or a dull, cramp-like ache. The pain can be made worse by sudden movements, as well as sneezing, coughing or laughing.
When does the pain usually start?
Round ligament pain typically starts in the second trimester of pregnancy. This is when the uterus begins to rapidly expand and grow, putting more pressure on the round ligaments that support it. However, some women may experience round ligament pain earlier or later in pregnancy. For example, women who have had multiple pregnancies or who are carrying multiple babies may experience round ligament pain earlier in pregnancy.
In your first pregnancy, round ligament pain can feel particularly painful because it is the first time the uterus and surrounding tissues are being stretched. The pain can feel quite intense and uncomfortable. The discomfort usually lasts anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes and it can continue to occur intermittently throughout the pregnancy.
6 ways to help ease the pain
There are several things that may help ease round ligament pain during pregnancy:
- Change positions: Changing positions (slowly!) or lying down on your side can help alleviate pressure on the round ligaments and reduce pain.
- Warm compresses: Applying a warm compress, such as a warm towel or heating pad, to the affected area can help relax the muscles and ease pain.
- Gentle exercise: Gentle exercises like prenatal yoga, walking or swimming can help strengthen and stretch the muscles, which may reduce round ligament pain.
- Supportive clothing: Wearing supportive clothing such as a pregnancy support belt or maternity pants can help alleviate pressure on the round ligaments and reduce pain.
- Warm bath: A warm bath with Epsom salt may help relax the tummy muscles and ease the pain.
- Rest and relaxation: Taking time to rest and relax can help reduce stress and tension, which may contribute to round ligament pain.
It’s important to talk to your midwife / GP before trying any new remedies or treatments for round ligament pain during pregnancy. Additionally, if the pain is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, it’s important to contact your midwife to rule out any potential complications.
When should I be worried?
While round ligament pain can be uncomfortable, it is usually not a cause for concern, and it typically goes away on its own. However, there are some situations where it may require some more attention. You should contact your midwife for advice if you experience any of the following:
- Severe pain: If the pain is severe, persistent, or getting worse over time, it’s important to seek medical attention to rule out any potential complications.
- Pain accompanied by bleeding: If you experience vaginal bleeding or spotting along with round ligament pain, it could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
- Pain accompanied by contractions: If you experience contractions or regular tightening of the uterus along with round ligament pain, it could be a sign of preterm labor.
- Pain accompanied by fever or chills: If you have a fever or chills along with round ligament pain, it could be a sign of an infection.
- Pain accompanied by other symptoms: If you experience other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or difficulty breathing along with round ligament pain, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine the cause.
- Difficulty walking: If the pain is so intense that you can’t walk or move, contact your midwife or GP urgently.
It’s important to note that not all women will experience round ligament pain during pregnancy, and the intensity and frequency of the pain can vary from woman to woman.In general, if you’re ever unsure about any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing during pregnancy, it’s always best to contact your midwife or GP to rule out any potential complications.
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.