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Round ligament pain – its causes, symptoms and treatment

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Round ligament pain is a brief, sharp, stabbing pain or a longer-lasting dull ache that pregnant women commonly feel in the lower abdomen or groin, starting in the second trimester.

You may feel round ligament pain as a short jabbing sensation if you suddenly change position, such as when you're getting out of bed or out of a chair or when you cough, roll over in bed, or get out of the bathtub. You may feel it as a dull ache after a particularly active day - when you've been walking a lot or doing some other physical activity.

The round ligaments surround your uterus in your pelvis. As your uterus grows during pregnancy, the ligaments stretch and thicken to accommodate and support it. These changes can occasionally cause pain on one or both sides of your abdomen.

You may feel the pain starting from deep inside your groin, moving upward and downward on either side to the top of your hips. The pain is internal, but if you were to trace it on your skin, it would follow the bikini line in a very high-cut bathing suit.

When you should call your doctor

  • If the pain lasts longer than a few seconds
  • Severe pain or cramping, or more than four contractions in an hour (even if they don't hurt)
  • Low back pain, especially if you didn't previously have back pain, or an increase in pressure in the pelvic area (a feeling that your baby is pushing down)
  • Bleeding, spotting, or a change in the type or amount of vaginal discharge
  • Fever, chills, faintness, or nausea and vomiting
  • Pain or burning whe​​​n you urinate

How to relieve discomfort

Resting comfortably should alleviate your symptoms. You can also try flexing your knees towards your abdomen or lying on your side with a pillow under your belly for support and another between your legs. A warm bath and OTC Tylenol may help, too.

If you find that you're more prone to round ligament pain when you're particularly active, cut back to see if that helps. Then, if you feel fine, you can gradually increase your activity until you find the level of exertion that's comfortable for you.