Round ligament pain is usually sharp in character and typically involves hip or abdominal region. Some women may also experience the spread of pain signals to pelvic or groin areas. In most cases the pain is bilateral but it can also be unilateral (involving only one side of the body). Typically pregnant mommies experience round ligament pain during the second trimester of pregnancy for the first time and it usually lasts until childbirth. Although severe round ligament pain may compromise maternal health, it is imperative to understand that round ligament pain is normal in pregnancy.
Causes of Round Ligament Pain
Round ligament is among the most important ligamentous supports of uterus during pregnancy. It helps in connecting the uterus with the groin. The ligaments are similar to muscles in most part except the fact that relaxation and contraction of ligaments is much slower than muscles. Abrupt or poorly supported movement like quickly sitting or standing, coughing and laughing etc. can stretch the ligaments by putting more stress and pressure. Being active for a long period of time, such as walking for too long is a day can also cause round ligament pain.
The quick contractility of ligaments is the primary source of round ligament pain in pregnant females; however for most part, the pain disappears within a few seconds.
How Does Round Ligament Pain Feel?
Round ligament pain is distressful and discomforting but for most part it is bearable and manageable during pregnancy. Round ligament pain is usually defined by pregnant mommies as sudden and sharp spasm in belly. Usually it affects the right side of body but it can also involve both sides of the body. Each episode of pain usually lasts no more than a few seconds.
When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider?
The stabbing, sharp feeling of round ligament pain disappears as soon as a female changes her position, but if it is accompanied with abdominal pain or other serious symptoms, urgent and emergent medical care should be sought (as it may suggest a serious obstetrical issue such as severe preeclampsia, placental abruption, preterm labor or any other problem that is not directly related to pregnancy such as appendicitis).
Immediately contact the health care provider if a pregnant female experience abdominal aches or intermittent pain accompanied with:
- Cramping, severe pain, prolonged contraction (four or more contractions in an hour even if it doesn’t hurt)
- Pain in the lower back, especially if the female never experienced the back pain during the course of pregnancy
- Spotting, vaginal bleeding or change in amount and type of vaginal discharge
- Nausea, vomiting, chills, fever or faintness
- Burning sensation or pain while urinating
- Other danger signs include pressure changes in the pelvic region as if the labor is in progress
How to Relieve Round Ligament Pain
1. Take Warm Bath or Compress. Taking a warm bath helps a great deal in relaxing stiff muscles, reducing tissue swelling and easing round ligament pain. Placing warm compress on the affected side may also help in relieving discomfort and pain.
2. Lower Activity Level. It is seen that particularly active pregnant female are more prone to develop round ligament pain. Cut extra workload to see the difference and as soon as you feel better, slowly resume your activity to avoid the recurrence of pain.
3. Do Stretching Exercises. Pregnant female who experience persistent round ligament pain are usually advised to perform regular stretching exercises. For example;
Place our knees and hands on the floor. Now lower your head towards the floor and keep the bottom in the air. This is the most common exercise that is recommended by doctors to reduce the intensity of round ligament pain.
4. Avoid Changing Position Suddenly. In addition, before a sudden change in position of the body (such as in the setting of a violent cough, sneeze or even laugh) immediately flex or bend your hips to support the uterus and prevent the sudden stretching of round ligament.
5. Avoid Standing for too Long. Avoid standing or sitting for longer periods of time as this can exert extra pressure on the already stretched and vulnerable ligaments. If your job requires you to spend added amount of time in sitting or standing, it is highly recommended to take several breaks. You can also take doctor’s note if required to show your employer.
6. Practice Yoga Exercises. Cat cow pose are the highly recommended yoga postures that are associated with resolution of round ligament pain in addition to optimal tissue strength and pelvic stability:
Kneel down with the weight of your body supported by your knees and hands. Spread your fingers wide on the floor (pointing forward). Now inhale and encircle the back while allowing your head to fall. Now exhale, and bring the belly downwards towards the mat while extending your back optimally to stretch the ligament. Repeat several times.
7. Try Physical Therapy. Most of the pregnant women look forward to prenatal massages that helps in easing several common ailments and discomforts associated with pregnancy including round ligament pain. Prenatal massages helps in managing the pain and keeping the body in healthier shape to support labor and post-labor stress. There are different massage techniques that are commonly used on pregnant females such as abdominal massages usually release tension in the ligaments and induces soothing comfort.
Visiting chiropractor is another option. Chiropractors are specialized to provide specialized prenatal care by utilizing techniques that prevents overstretching and tightness of ligaments.
8. Use Pelvic Support Aids. Pregnancy support belts and bands are easily available in the market that are designed to lift and support the expanded uterus to reduce pressure on the ligaments, hips and bladder. It also provides support to the spinal architecture to provide optimal comfort. These aids can easily be worn under the clothing.
9. More Tips
- Optimal bed rest is the best method of relieving or reducing the intensity of round ligament pain.
- Changing the position of body slowly reduces the force of stretch on the round ligament that further helps in alleviating pain.
- Another method of easing round ligament pain is flexing the knees towards abdomen or lying on your side with the uterus fully supported by a pillow (placed under the belly). You can also position another pillow in between the legs.