The 'round ligament' could be to blame!
Each woman has two round ligaments, one found on either side of the uterus. They extend from the uterus to attach to the pubic area or groin. When a woman is not pregnant, the round ligaments just sit there, without much to do.
During pregnancy however, the uterus enlarges and becomes heavy with your baby and the life giver to baby, your placenta. It becomes more sensitive to sudden movements made by mum. This is because as the uterus is so much heavier, the ligaments are on more of a stretch and the heavy uterus has more momentum. That’s where the round ligaments come in: they maintain the uterus position during movement and support the growing uterus.
So, why do the ligaments cause pain?
During sudden or fast movement, the round ligaments can often pull and cramp as they both work together to hold the uterus in the centre of your pelvis and abdomen, thus causing pain. Those movements might include coughing, sneezing, laughing, rapidly standing or walking, rolling in bed and sudden directional changes.
What does round ligament pain feel like?
Occasionally the pain is described as a dull ache as the round ligaments are always pulling tight in that lengthened new position. The most common complaint however, is a sudden, sharp, stabbing or ‘cramp-like’ pain in the groin and/or lower abdomen. Most commonly, it presents in the right round ligament, but can occur on the left side or on both sides too.
Is there anything that can be done to help with this pain while I am pregnant?
The most important thing to understand is that round ligament pain is a normal part of pregnancy. Most of the time, the pain will go away on its own. Here are some things you can do to help manage pain:
- Moving slower so as to avoid sudden movements.
- Lying on your side, with a pillow between your bent knees and another under your growing bub.
- Abdominal bracing during aggravating movements. Simply engage your belly by imagining drawing in the navel before you need to move suddenly, cough or sneeze.
- Abdominal support garments to offload pressure on the ligaments.
- Tilting your pelvis backwards during spasms (imagine tucking your bottom under, or flattening though the spine). Imagine here you are effectively shortening the 2 round ligaments at the front of your belly to take away that lengthened pulled tightness and pain.
- Belly taping can be applied by your physiotherapist.
Read more here.