How to Help Round Ligament Pain

Causes, Diagnosis, and Tips

In This Article

Table of Contents

When you’re pregnant, it’s not uncommon to feel all kinds of pain in various parts of your body. One area that you might expect to feel discomfort is in your midsection since this is, of course, where your baby is growing.

Round ligament pain is a common ailment many women experience during the second trimester. When you experience round ligament pain, you will likely feel a sharp pain or soreness in the abdomen or hip area, although, it may also extend to the groin area.

Typically, you will feel this pain on the right side of your pelvis, but you may also experience discomfort on the left side or sometimes both sides of your abdomen. If you do feel this pain, try to remain calm. It's a very common part of pregnancy.

However, as with any discomfort, you should visit your doctor to confirm what you are experiencing is round ligament pain, or whether it may be another condition.

Treating round ligament pain
Verywell / Alexandra Gordon

Causes

Your uterus is supported by cordlike round ligaments in the pelvis. These ligaments connect the front of the uterus to the groin region. According to Dr. Lisa M. Valle, DO, a gynecologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, as the uterus grows, these ligaments stretch and can cause discomfort. 

“It can occur from awakening, turning in bed, coughing, laughing or any other type of physical activity,” she adds. You may also get a sudden, sharp pain when doing activities that are vigorous or require you to have rapid movement. 

While the sharp pain can definitely be distracting, it shouldn’t last for very long.

Round ligament pain lasts for a few seconds and usually ceases as soon as you change the position you’re in, stop the activity you're doing, or get up from sitting or lying down. 

Diagnosis

Since round ligament pain most often occurs during the second trimester, your doctor will likely mention it at one of your routine prenatal appointments. 

However, if they don’t bring it up, you should mention it. They will want to assess the level of pain to make sure what you’re experiencing falls within the normal range or that it’s nothing some more serious. 

Doctors reach a diagnosis of round ligament pain by exclusion, or process of elimination. That’s why Valle says if you’re experiencing continuing discomfort or if you’re feeling severe pain, you should see your obstetrician or midwife to verify that it is round ligament pain and to rule out other causes. 

Tips

While the discomfort you experience from round ligament pain can be irritating, fortunately, there are things you can do to help relieve the achy, sharp pain. 

Change Your Position

Like many other pains felt during pregnancy, if you’re experiencing round ligament pain, your first course of action is to change the position of your body until you are comfortable. When lying on your side, you may find relief by using pillows to support your stomach. You can also try sleeping with a pillow between your legs. 

Stop What You’re Doing

If you feel a sudden pain, stop or change the activity you’re doing until you feel comfortable. You may find that certain exercises or physical activities may trigger pain more than others.

You may need to be put certain activities on hold for the duration of your pregnancy. 

Avoid Sharp Turns or Movements

A good rule of thumb, says Valle, is to move slowly and with purpose. If you notice an increase in pain during a particular movement, slow down to see if that helps. Try not to reach or stretch too far, especially if those movements make the pain worse. 

Use a Heating Pad

Heat works wonders. Apply a warm (not hot) heating pad to the area where you’re feeling pain. If you’re unsure about applying direct heat to your abdominal area, always talk with your doctor first. 

Take a Warm Bath or Shower

Warm water (not hot) can help alleviate some of the discomforts from round ligament pain. Keep the temperature lower since extreme heat can be dangerous to your baby. When in doubt, ask your doctor if taking warm baths is safe during your pregnancy. 

Consider Wearing a Maternity Belt

Valle says some people find that wearing a maternity belt helps relieve pressure by providing firm yet gentle support.

Try Gentle Stretches

Your obstetrician or midwife may recommend stretching exercises or prenatal yoga. 

Flex Your Hips

During a coughing or sneezing spell, consider flexing your hips before the next cough or sneeze. This may reduce the pull on the ligaments and help prevent the pain from happening. 

Try Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Relief

While not required, taking an OTC pain reliever such as acetaminophen can help relieve pain and discomfort. Make sure to talk with your doctor prior to taking any medication.

A Word From Verywell

Round ligament pain is quite common during pregnancy, so don’t be surprised if you experience some symptoms, especially during the second trimester. While the pain may be sharp enough to stop you in your tracks, there are a variety of simple strategies you can try to help relieve some of the pressure and discomfort. The good news is once you move to the third trimester, the pain typically gets better, and for some women, it even goes away. 

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