What are Round Ligaments?
Round ligaments are ligaments that surround and support the uterus of women. They connect the front portion of the uterus to the groin. Round ligaments contract and relax like muscles, but a bit more slowly. As the uterus grows to accommodate the growing fetus, the ligaments also stretch out and thicken to be able to accommodate and support the uterus.
What is the Pregnancy Condition Called Round Ligament Pain?
The stretching and thickening of the round ligaments may cause pain, which can be felt in one side or both sides of the pregnant woman’s belly; although, in nearly all cases, it is usually noticeable in the right side. This is because the uterus has a normal tendency to turn to the right. This pregnancy condition can be felt as early as 14 weeks during the pregnancy but is usually experienced by mothers during the second trimester.
Round ligament pain is characterized by short jabbing sensation or sharp stabbing pain felt when a pregnant woman suddenly changes position. This is usually felt when a pregnant woman gets out of a bed or evacuate a seat or a chair when coughing, when rolling over the bed, or when standing up and leaving the bathtub. It can also be felt like a dull ache following an active day, such as when walking a lot or doing some physical activities. Other movements that can cause round ligament pain are laughing or coughing which result in the contraction of ligaments quickly.
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Round ligament pain begins at the groin area and moves upward and outward on either side to the top of the pregnant woman’s hips. The pain is felt internally and lasts for only a few seconds. However, it can be traced on one’s skin and it follows the bikini line that matches a high-cut bikini or bathing suit.
What can be done to Relieve Round Ligament Pain?
Once a healthcare provider reassures that the pain felt originates from round ligaments, a pregnant woman should apply the following measures to relieve round ligament pain:
- Take a sit and try to relax when the pain starts to settle in. Resting in a comfortable place and position should ease the pain.
- Another way to ease the pain is by flexing one’s knees towards one’s abdomen to get rid of the pain.
- Lying down on one’s side with a pillow placed under one’s belly and another between the legs can also help relieve round ligament pain.
- Taking a warm bath can also help.
- If round ligament pain is felt during active days, try reducing activities to see if it helps reduce the pain. When the pain is gone and one feels better, she can then slowly increase the activity until the comfortable level of exertion is found.
- Moving cautiously and slowly, especially when lying or sitting down, can also prevent round ligament pain. This allows the muscles ample time to adjust and sustain before changing position.
- Tilt one’s pelvis towards the back by slouching ones back before standing up.
- A support belt or an elastic tubular bandage designed especially for pregnancy could help reduce the pain. The support belt works by taking a few of the weight off the abdominal muscles. Consult a physiotherapist or a midwife about using one.
- Kick up one’s feet and relax.
- If the round ligament pain felt is consistent, the pregnant woman may be advised by the healthcare provider to engage in daily stretching exercises. One example of a stretching exercise for round ligament pain is by putting one’s hands and knees on the floor, lowering one’s head to the floor and keeping one’s pelvic area in the air.
When is it Necessary to Call a Healthcare Provider?
The condition, round ligament pain, is a common discomfort felt during pregnancy. However, the pain felt should not last longer than a few seconds. In cases that they last longer, it is important to immediately report the pain to a healthcare provider. Furthermore, reporting may also be necessary when persistent pain is still experienced even after resting or employing relief measures. More so, if the pain is accompanied by:
- More than four contractions in an hour, or contractions that do not end.
- A feeling that the fetus is pushing down, or a feeling that there is an increased pressure in the pelvic area.
- Vaginal bleeding, change in the amount and type of vaginal discharge, or spotting
- Fever, faintness, nausea and vomiting, or chills
- Burning sensation and pain when urinating
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Are there any other Causes of Pain?
This is because abdominal pain can also be a sign of several obstetrical problems, such as preterm labor, placental abruption, severe preeclampsia, or a medical problem not related to pregnancy, like appendicitis or urine infection. If a pregnant woman is uncertain of the nature of the pain, it is best to see a healthcare provider to undergo some tests. A negative result may rule out serious medical or obstetrical problems.