Lightning Crotch(!) Explained + Natural Remedies

Our bodies do some weird things during pregnancy, and we’ve created some weird terms to describe these strange phenomena. Like the terms bloody show. And, of course, lightning crotch.

Many mamas experience the painful sensation of lightning crotch in their nether regions without knowing that it has an official name.

What is lightning crotch and what does it feel like?

Lightning crotch is a catch-all phrase for a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain that occurs in the pelvis, rectum, or vulva. Causes can include baby’s movement, round ligament pain, and mineral deficiencies.

Lightning crotch feels like a quick, lightning flash of pain. The pain can also radiate down the legs.

When does it happen?

Depending on what is causing it, you can get these pains throughout pregnancy, but they tend to intensify in the weeks before labor. You may even get the sharp pains in the hours leading up to delivery.

Some women find that certain positions when sitting or lying down can trigger lightning crotch.

Does lightning crotch mean baby is coming?

Not necessarily.

Some women have felt these pains throughout their pregnancy, when a swift kick from baby’s foot or elbow hits the bundle of nerves by the cervix.

And of course, as the baby continues to move towards the birth canal, their head will put more pressure on the area, causing more shooting pains.

Lightning crotch pain really doesn’t mean anything, except that the nerves in that area are being triggered.

Should I be worried?

Random cramps and pains are to be expected when your body is preoccupied with growing another human being, but there is a point when you need to contact your birth professional.

If you experience cramping or pains at regular intervals, accompanied by spotting or bleeding, then be sure to tell your doctor or midwife right away. Note that this type of pain goes above and beyond lightning crotch, and could be a symptom of something more serious.

What causes lightning crotch and what does it mean?

There are several different reasons why expecting mamas get these pains, but it basically has to do with pressure on the bundle of nerves around the cervix. The majority of the nerves in the uterus just so happen to be right above your cervix. As baby moves around and things start happening down there, it can stimulate these nerves.

Common causes of lightning crotch include:

Baby moving

When your baby changes positions, turns, stretches, or kicks, they can put pressure on the nerves in your uterus. This in turn can cause a sharp, sudden pain. The pressure on the nerves intensifies, especially as baby’s head engages into the pelvis during the last few weeks of pregnancy or during labor.

Round ligament pain

The ligaments that support your pelvis and uterus stretch to accommodate baby during pregnancy. Some women produce more of the hormones relaxin and progesterone than others, causing even more stretching and loosening of the ligaments. When these round ligaments stretch too far or too quickly, it can cause the lightning crotch pain. (source)

Magnesium deficiency

Most of us are lacking in this essential mineral, but our stores become even more depleted when they’re trying to keep up with two people’s needs. Magnesium is vital for many of the body’s functions, but it is especially helpful for proper nerve function. A deficiency only compounds the sharp nerve pains caused by lightning crotch, and can cause muscle cramps and sciatica. (source)

Varicose veins

You’re probably well aware of unsightly varicose veins in the legs, but during pregnancy you can also get varicosities in the vaginal area. This can cause tingly pelvic pain from blood pooling in the lower extremities, similar to the zinging feeling of lightning crotch.

“There’s increasing pressure from the enlarging uterus, so the blood from everything below it doesn’t make its way effectively upward as it typically does. That pressure changes cause dilation of those veins.” – source

Symptoms of lightning crotch

When your baby moves down into the birth canal in preparation for birth, it can cause lightning crotch as well as other symptoms from the increased pressure.

A swift kick from your baby’s foot or elbow earlier on in pregnancy can also cause sharp pains in the pelvic and vaginal area.

Most of these symptoms will increase as you get closer to labor, with baby putting more pressure on the nerves around the cervix.

  • Sharp pains in the rectum, cervix, or vulva
  • Constipation
  • Urinary incontinence, and/or frequent urination
  • Less heartburn (if baby’s head has engaged into the birth canal)
  • Easier time taking deep breaths (once baby “drops”)

Natural tips to ease the discomfort

You don’t have much control over your baby’s movements, but there are some things that can really help relieve the pain caused by lightning crotch.

The following suggestions are great for relieving a myriad of pregnancy symptoms, and will help your body prepare for birth—whether or not you have lightning crotch.

Chiropractic adjustments

A good chiropractor will help align the spine by releasing subluxations that cause nerve compression. Since your body is now carrying increased weight, it can throw you off balance. A chiropractor can adjust the spine and pelvis to relieve pressure that’s being put on ligaments and nerves, especially the sciatic nerve that can cause shooting pains down the legs. (source)

Myofascial release

This therapy is helpful to normalize the pelvic floor muscle tone and can be done by a chiropractor who specializes in it. By activating the body’s trigger points, muscles that are causing nerve compression and imbalance in the pelvis will be released.

“Sometimes muscles are capable of working but cannot due to the pain they would cause by contracting forcefully.” (source)

Acupuncture and acupressure

This ancient form of Chinese medicine works by targeting and releasing nerve points in the body. It’s powerful enough to encourage cervical ripening and improve labor and delivery, but it also helps to relieve pelvic pain.

This study showed that acupuncture was highly effective at relieving pelvic pain, but the points used were ones that are avoided during pregnancy by traditional Chinese medicine. Be sure to consult with a qualified practitioner who will take all of the factors into account and come up with a personalized plan for you.

Movement and exercise

Regular and gentle exercise during pregnancy has many benefits, including preparing the body for the stress of labor. Here are some specific pregnancy exercises and techniques that can be used to help bring balance to the pelvis, support round ligaments, and get baby in an optimal position.

When the round ligament muscles are tight, you can feel the pulling in your pelvis and even down into your labia. The exercises linked to above will help to relieve excess pressure on the pelvis and alleviate the symptoms of lightning crotch triggered by stretching round ligaments.

Supportive clothing

Wearing a belly band and compression garments help to relieve pressure in the pelvic area. Since blood flow significantly increases in the vaginal area during pregnancy, this can help to relieve the tingly pain caused by varicose veins in the area. It can also help prevent blood from pooling in your lower extremities and vagina. (source)

Supplement with magnesium

Magnesium is necessary for proper nerve function and helps to prevent muscle cramping and sciatica pain that can cause pelvic pain during pregnancy. Some healthcare professionals believe that over 75% of the U.S. population is deficient in this important mineral. Learn if you’re deficient here. And learn about the best magnesium supplement here. (Of course, you can always start with just boosting your intake of magnesium-rich foods!) (source)

Dealing with lightning crotch

Even though this issue has a silly name, the pain is no joke. Thankfully, the shooting lightning-like pains will come and go quickly.

Did you experience lightning like pains in the crotch while pregnant? Tell us what you did for them in the comments below!

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19 Comments

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  1. i am 42 weeks and bledding light and having pain in my pevice is that i sing i am going into labor

  2. hello i am 42 weeks pg and i have been bleedi thatng light to and i have be have some sharp pain in my pervic to day is that a sing that i am going in to labor

  3. I experienced it before but now it’s happening at 10 min intervals. I am currently 37 weeks and mom tells me that baby might not come until after 40 weeks as its my first. Baby has been in position since late December already. It feels like baby has a weird sense of humour and just might make a surprise visit sooner than people think.

    • Best of luck to you!

  4. I started having this sensation about 24 weeks and went to my chiropractor. She explained that since my last pregnancy was with twins and my pelvis ligaments stretched so far that now with this pregnancy they’re stretching easily but not quite evenly causing the shooting pains. She pressed on the points of my pubic bone (ouch!) to get the ligaments to relax and pulled my knees apart while I resisted and by the time I left her office I already had relief. Visit your chiropractor if you’re experiencing this pain. It’s worth a shot and you’ll feel so much better.

  5. I have had the with three out of four of my pregnancies. My chiropractor had me lay on my back and put my feet flat. Then she told me to hold my knees together and resist her. She jerked my knees apart and it was amazing pain relief. With subsequent children it was not quite as effective but it still gave relief.

  6. I’m 38 weeks pregnant and I’ve been living with this pain almost 2 months now. It started to hurt when I walked near the end of the day and gradually got worse as time went on. It feels like my pelvic bone was punched and I get burning sensations along with shooting pains. Now it almost never goes away can hardly walk or get in and out of bed. Can’t do stairs and chase my 3 year old around. I have to sleep on my back and if I try to sleep on my side it feels like my pelvic bone is being crushed. Shooting pains and burning pains. Now try to get back on my back. Haha I do not wish this pain on anyone. One of the most uncomfortable feeling I have ever felt.

    • Oh my gosh!!! I have had this off & on the whole 3rd trimester! I am 35 weeks today & so grateful to be almost done because of this lightening crotch! At least now I know it has a name & I am not alone. This is my 3rd baby but I have never ever experienced this before. It is awful! I’ve had sciatic pain ever since I’ve had a belly but this is new to the 3rd & so painful, weird & annoying! It has me shouting when it happens. My kids & dog find it frightening but I can’t help to let it out when it happens. I have found the cat cow position in yoga helps alleviate it a bit & my belly band helps too. I can’t wait for her to get here so this goes away. It is a strange yet painful pregnancy symptom I tell ya what. ?

  7. I’m not sure if this is what I had last night but oh. my. gosh…. I stood up from sitting in bed and it literally felt like I was being electrocuted in my vagina. It stopped me dead in my tracks! I thought it would compare to pelvic girdle pain. Nope. This was way worse as far as intensity but thank God it was short lived. Does that sound normal ish?

  8. Thanks so much for posting about this! I was just telling my husband it feels like baby girl is scratching my cervix. 30 weeks along, and it’s definitely an interesting sensation.

  9. I am 36 weeks pregnant and have been having a sharp stabbing pain all the way at the top and on the inside of my leg off and on for the last several weeks. I haven’t felt it anywhere else. Could it still be lightning crotch?

  10. Experiencing this right now with my first pregnancy…ouch. It’s one of those things you intend to ask your OB/midwife about, then forget at every appointment (or maybe that’s just me?). It’s good to know that it doesn’t mean anything dangerous for baby…just painful for mommy!
    I need to check into the magnesium deficiency thing. It’s so hard to keep up with everything your body needs during pregnancy!

    you can find me online at http://www.absorbinggrace.com

  11. I definitely had this during my pregnancy! I had never heard of it til now, my daughter is 2 years old and I still get this pain occasionally…has anyone else experienced this? I have an IUD that I think is causing problems, and I’m sure I am mineral deficient. Either way, this is interesting!

    • I’m one year postpartum with my second…and I still get this pain, as well. No IUD here.

  12. Acupuncture and acupressure really scares me, I’d rather increase my vitamin intakes like magnesium and wear supportive clothing. My OB do provide magnesium and folic although I am not comfortable with taking folic.

  13. Going through this now…10 more weeks!

  14. I had this throughout my third trimester! It would happen out of nowhere and would actually cause me to say ouch many times a day!! Like a knife stabbing pain. I imagined my little babes elbow hitting my cervix and moving around. My doctor called it lightening too. It did not feel like labor did 🙂

  15. Is this describing the almost funny bone feeling… except happening elsewhere? There were a few times I experienced it toward the end of pregnancy…I described as a swift hit to the crotch with a baseball bat..

    • Yep, that sounds like lightning crotch to me. ?

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