Round Ligament Pain During Pregnancy

Round ligament pain is most common during the second trimester. Women may have a sharp pain in their abdomen or hip area that is either on one side or both. Some women even report pain that extends into the groin area. Round ligament pain is considered a normal part of pregnancy as your body goes through many different changes.

What causes round ligament pain?

The round ligament supports the uterus and stretches during pregnancy.  It connects the front portion of the uterus to the groin. These ligaments contract and relax muscles, but much more slowly.

Any movement (including going from a sitting to standing position quickly, laughing, or coughing) that stretches these ligaments by making them contract quickly, can cause a woman to experience pain.  Round ligament pain should only last for a few seconds.

What can be done to treat round ligament pain?

Rest is one of the best ways to help with this kind of pain. Changing positions slowly allows the ligaments to stretch more gradually and can help alleviate any pain.
If you know that you are going to sneeze, cough, or laugh you can bend and flex your hips, which can reduce the pull on the ligaments.
If you are having consistent round ligament pain, your health care provider may recommend daily stretching exercises.  The most common exercise is done by placing your hands and knees on the floor, lowering your head to the floor, and keeping your bottom in the air.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

If the pain persists after resting, or it is accompanied by severe pain, you would want to notify your healthcare provider. If the pain lasts for more than a few minutes, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
You would also want to notify your health care provider if the pain is accompanied by any bleeding, cramping, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or changes in vaginal discharge.

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Compiled using information from the following sources:

1. Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Part 3.

2. Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Simkin, Penny, P.T., et al, Ch. 6.