You’re just minding your own business, when POW! You feel a sharp pain in your abdomen.
The shooting pains may feel similar to lightning crotch. But round ligament pain is different.
See what exactly round ligament pain is, how to nourish your ligaments, and how to balance your body to ease any discomfort.
What is Round Ligament Pain?
We each have two round ligaments, one on either side of the abdominal area. These ligaments start at the bottom of the groin, fan outward, and connect at the hip area to support the abdominals. As the uterus grows during pregnancy, these ligaments stretch to become tighter and thinner, like a rubber band being stretched. The stretching can cause tension and pain in the abdominal area.
Round ligament pain typically starts in the middle of the second trimester, though you may not feel it until the third trimester if you’re not carrying as far out. It’s very common, though not all women will experience it. Most of the time, it does go away later in the pregnancy.
Round Ligament Pain illustration by Mama Natural
What Does Round Ligament Pain Feel Like?
This pain feels like a sharp, jabbing pain on one or both sides of the lower abdomen. Sudden movements can trigger a stabbing pain or muscle spasm. Round ligament pain can also feel like a dull ache as if the muscles are overworked.
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What Causes Round Ligament Pain?
As your baby grows and the uterus stretches, it puts strain on the round ligaments. If the baby is not in an ideal baby position, she can push on one of the ligaments, causing a shooting pain from the strain.
Coughing, sneezing, laughing or quick movements may also trigger the shooting pains.
Poor alignment of your spine and/or hips can put the uterus and/or pelvis out of place, causing a domino effect that also triggers round ligament pain.
Natural Remedies for Round Ligament Pain
1. Relax in the Bath
Taking a nice warm bath helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Adding Epsom salts to the bath gives the body a nice dose of relaxing magnesium. The combination of the warmth and magnesium is perfect for soothing round ligament pain. You can also add some lavender, chamomile or marjoram essential oils for extra soothing properties. If traditional baths aren’t your thing, maybe forest bathing would work for you because it helps increase relaxation.
2. Heat Things Up
If you don’t have time for a bath, you can still benefit from using heat to relax round ligament pain. A heating pad or hot water bottle can safely be used during pregnancy, as long as a couple precautions are followed.
- Don’t use a high heat setting.
- Only leave the heating pad on the area for a maximum of 10-15 minutes.
3. Strengthen and Balance with Exercise
It may seem counter intuitive to stretch an already stretched muscle, but it really can be a good strategy. Certain pelvic exercises help to strengthen the abdominal muscles as a whole and keep the uterus, pelvis and baby in proper alignment. Here are some pelvic exercises that can ease round ligament pain.
Pregnancy yoga and core strengthening exercises with a focus on the transverse abdominus can also help. Sit-ups and crunches put too much strain on the area, and should be avoided, especially by those with abdominal separation or diastasis recti. Swimming is a gentle yet effective strengthening cardio during pregnancy and the water helps to relieve pressure on the ligaments.
While stretching during a round ligament spasm can help ease tension, it’s a good idea to be regular with your exercise regimen. Consistent exercise can help to ease round ligament pain and eliminate the triggers to diminish painful episodes.
4. Take a Rest
With cloth diapers to prep, a nursery to paint and everything else we may have going on, it can take a toll on a pregnant mama’s body. The dull cramping feeling in the abdominal area is often caused by overexertion of the round ligaments. Laying on your left side for a while and taking it easy will reduce the pressure. Be sure to put a pillow between your knees to keep the pelvis aligned and use another pillow under your stomach if needed. Drawing your knees up to the chest also helps to reduce strain on the ligaments.
5. Practice Proper Posture
It’s important to keep the pelvis balanced during pregnancy for several reasons. When we stand with a hip jutted out to one side, or tuck the pelvis in or jut it way forward, this can throw us out of alignment. Sitting is just as important as standing. Focus on sitting on the sitz bones and don’t allow the pelvis to tilt to the side or back. You may find it useful to sit on an exercise ball where the hips are slightly higher than the knees. Wearing comfortable shoes that are flat and don’t squeeze the foot are also crucial to proper pelvic alignment and posture.
6. Keep It Together With Chiropractic
Chiropractors can help with a plethora of pregnancy complaints, but they’re especially useful when it comes to round ligament pain.
“Because of how the pelvis and sacrum are set up, if one of your hip bones rocks back into misalignment and the opposite hip bone rocks forward, the sacrum, which connects those two hip bones can tilt back one way or the other. This pulls on the round ligaments of the uterus.” – Michelle Parker DC
A Webster certified chiropractor uses a special technique to align and balance the pelvic muscles and ligaments to keep the uterus from twisting. It relieves tension in the round ligaments and ensures that the sacrum, or tailbone, is in proper position.
7.Massage Away the Pain
Laying down and massaging the ligament area can help to relax and soothe tension. Use firm but gentle pressure, and focus on the sides of the groin and uterus. Applying some magnesium lotion or oil first can boost the massage benefits.
8. Increase Your Support
As baby grows, her weight puts continued and growing pain on the round ligaments. A maternity belt or splint can help to relieve some of this pressure. There are plenty of different styles to choose from, and some are more supportive than others. Opt for a style that best fits your body type and needs.
9. Slow Things Down
We’ve already discussed the importance of taking a break and resting, but using slower movements can also be beneficial. If you find that your workouts are causing round ligament pain, then switch to a gentler form of exercise, at least for now. Avoid sudden movements, like shooting out of bed, or pivoting quickly to turn around. Take small baby steps when turning instead of swinging your leg out. Move a little slower and take things easy if you need to.
10. Ditch the Tight Bra
So what does your bra have anything to do with your round ligaments? More than you may realize actually. When a bra is too tight, this puts pressure on the mid back and diaphragm. Pressure in these areas has a domino effect along the spine that can also affect the pelvic muscles and alignment.
11. Nourish Your Ligaments
Our ligaments are composed primarily of collagen. Taking a grassfed collagen powder can help them to stay strong and repair. Our body naturally produces collagen, so there are several nutrients that are needed for collagen synthesis in the body. Eating a healthy, real foods diet and taking a food based prenatal should give you the following nutrients. However, you may need to add in other supplements if your prenatal doesn’t give you 100% of the daily value for pregnancy of certain nutrients.
- Zinc, magnesium and B12 help form RNA and DNA. When we’re deficient in these three, then collagen production is impaired. I talk about the best magnesium supplements in this post here.
- Vitamin C and iron together help the amino acids that form collagen and stimulate the secretion of collagen from cells once it’s been produced.
- Manganese is highest in connective tissue and is necessary for their production, as well as collagen formation.
Vitamins B6, B2 and copper work in conjunction to cross link the collagen fibers.
When to Call Your Healthcare Provider
Sometimes pain in the abdomen can indicate a more serious issue. If the pain is in the center, then it’s likely coming from the uterus, not round ligaments. If you have any of the following symptoms, or a combination of them, then you should probably contact your doctor or midwife to rule out anything serious.
- Severe pain, or pain that doesn’t go away.
- Contractions or uterine cramping.
- Sudden lower back pain and increasing pelvic pressure, like the baby is pushing down.
- Vaginal bleeding
- Nausea or vomiting accompanied by fever which could indicate an infection.
- Pain or burning with urinating which may indicate a UTI.
Round Ligament Pain Recap
Even though round ligament pain can be uncomfortable, it usually isn’t anything serious and is very common in pregnancy. Targeted nutrition, regular chiropractic care and regular exercise can all help to prevent and ease round ligament pain. It may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for your body, but there are plenty of solutions above to get you started.
What About You?
Did you ever have round ligament pain during pregnancy? What did you do to help ease the pain?