What is Round Ligament Pain & How Long does it Last?
Pregnancy is of course a wonderful time for a lot of reasons, with some people even calling it "magical" and in many ways, it is. However as anyone who has actually gone through the process will tell you, there are more than a few… minor inconveniences. From morning sickness to mood swings, there are plenty of unwanted side effects that tag along with the miracle or life. Obviously the end results are more than pay for any negative issues, but there is no use denying that negative issues and the focus of this article is on one of the more common, and that is Round Ligament Pain.
What is Round Ligament Pain?
Round Ligament Pain is, well, pain, named after the round ligaments. The round ligaments surround and support your uterus, and connect from the front part down into the groin region. As your pregnancy progresses to second trimester, these round ligaments thicken to help support the area while the baby grows. This is a normal and completely necessary part of pregnancy, however the relatively rapid growth and strain on the round ligaments can leave the body in pain.
Is Round Ligament Pain Dangerous to Me or the Baby?
Round ligament pain is a totally normal, but uncomfortable part of pregnancy. And the baby will be fine, as only you have to suffer the discomfort.
Causes of Round Ligament Pain
As briefly mentioned above, round ligament pain is an unfortunately normal and regular part of pregnancy that will likely be experienced by every pregnant woman at least a few times throughout.
The bodies natural response when you become pregnant is fortunately to realize "Oh hey, there is about to be a tiny person in here! We better get things ready!", and one of the many, many things your body does to prepare, is to thicken and strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments around your pelvis, groin and uterus. This is good for you, because if that did not happen there would be much worse issues then some extra pain.
So when these muscles begin to thicken and contract it can cause some sharp pains in your pelvic area, hips and even down in your groin.
Signs and Symptoms of Round Ligament Pain
Usually the main signs and symptoms of round ligament pain is a sharp, sort of stabbing pain on either side of your uterus that lasts for a few seconds. It is possible to feel it in other places, because as mentioned previously, the round ligaments cover a bit of areas. Even though it is possible to last a bit longer than a few seconds, as well. Fortunately you generally do not have to worry about round ligament pain until a bit of the way into your second trimester, as early on in pregnancy the ligaments have not thickened enough to cause pain, although it is possible to experience round ligament pain in the first trimester, this is not very common.
Tests to Diagnose Round Ligament Pain
However, if you want to be positive that what you are experiencing is in fact, round ligament pain, you should always talk with your doctor and/or primary caregiver. This is because while this type of pain is a totally normal part of the pregnancy package, there are several more serious issues that can begin with various forms of abdominal pain. Please contact your doctor if with the pain, you experience any of the following, especially when coupled with sharp pains in the pelvic or abdominal area:
- Lower back pain.
- Vaginal bleeding and/or discharge.
- Chills or shivers.
- Severe pain (More than simply a short stabbing pain).
- Or simply if the pain lasts longer than usual.
Please do note that this list is only partially inclusive, and should only really be used as a guide in the most general sense. Your doctor knows you and your situation best, and you should never, ever hesitate to contact him or her if you have any issues that you are unsure about. A good doctor will tell you if what you are experiencing is simply round ligament pain or not.
Treatment for Round Ligament Pain
Generally speaking there is no real treatment for round ligament pain, per se, simply because this is a generally unavoidable issue that will affect more women then it wont. That is not to say that there are not methods you can take to try and ease the pain, or to try and avoid it as much as possible, and these will be discussed in the following sections.
There is no medicine or operation the doctor can give you to make it stop, other than delivering the baby. However, since that is probably a little ways off, you should keep reading.
How Long Does Round Ligament Pain Last?
Well, bad news, unfortunately. Round ligament pain lasts until up to several months after birth. Even with your new bundle of joy delivered, your body will still take some time to recover and revert back to its normal, original state. So it is perfectly normal to continue feeling discomfort for up to a couple of months after delivery due to round ligament pain.
Yes, that is the absolute last answer you wanted to hear, but fortunately most of the remedies and preventive measures listed above will still work effectively even after your child is born, so feel free to apply them as you think is necessary. Also, once the child is born, depending on if you are breastfeeding or not, you can talk to your doctor about the possibilities of different types of painkillers for round ligament pain that might be more effective, now that you do not have to worry about the baby getting any part of them.
Coping with Round Ligament Pain
Coping with round ligament pain can be easier if you are aware that you are having round ligament pain. Fortunately, round ligament pain is not like some other parts of pregnancy that you sometimes have to plan parts of your day around like morning sickness, and even if you experience it several times in the same day, it generally will not make much of a dent in your activities.
Since the pain only lasts for a few seconds, it is pretty easy to simply sit down (or lay down, if you are at home and have the option) and allow the pain to pass, and then try and move on with what you where doing.
If the pain becomes very common, increases greatly in intensity, or you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above (or anything outside of the short pain), please do not hesitate to contact your doctor or caregiver.
Prevention of Round Ligament Pain
The best way to prevent round ligament pain is to simply try and keep it from happening at all. While the natural thickening and strengthening of the ligaments puts them in a position to be tugged and pulled at, the simplest way is to try and not tug or pull at them. Easier said then done, however. While you think you will just move slowly (the most common time you will feel round ligament pain is standing up, bending down or rolling over too quickly), now is a good time to mention that pretty much any sudden movement can and will cause discomfort. What movements? Well:
All of which are generally unavoidable parts of life. So since you cannot do much against those, please, keep reading to see what you can do when they do happen.
Home Remedies for Round Ligament Pain
Finally, the part where you get to learn how to get rid of the pain caused by round ligament pain. Well, manage the pain would be a more accurate term. As mentioned in the previous section, try to prevent round ligament pain as much as possible by moving slowly, especially when sitting up or down. But it will hurt at some point, and the best way to manage this is to simply rest. If you are lying down, try slowly adjusting to a new position, or if you can, gently raise your legs on a pillow or something larger.
You can also try gently flexing your knees into your stomach, although do this very slowly. If your doctor says its okay, low-strength painkillers like Tylenol are usually alright, although please ask your doctor for advice on your particular situation.
The best home remedy for round ligament pain is generally the most relaxing, however you will need some time set aside for it to be effective. It is of course, a bath. Remember, ligaments are essentially a kind of muscle, and we want them to relax. And what is the best way to relax sore and tight muscles? A calm, relaxing bath can help sort of… reset things down there. It is a good step to take when you have the time (pregnant or not!), but please, do be careful when getting out of the tub, or you might just pull it again.
You are now pretty much an expert on the topic of round ligament pain. However, since you will probably have plenty of more questions in the months ahead, there are plenty of message boards on the internet, devoted to mothers discussing the issues of pregnancy, and with a bit of searching, you can usually find threads devoted to the topic of round ligament pain.