Pregnancy comes with a range of new experiences and sensations as your body goes through changes to make room for your growing little one. 

Sometimes these changes can cause discomfort but often this is entirely normal.

Round ligament pain is one of the most common causes of discomfort during pregnancy.

What Are Round Ligaments?

Several ligaments surround and support your uterus as it grows during pregnancy.

The round ligament connects the front of the uterus to your groin and pubic region. 

As your baby and uterus grow, the round ligament is stretched from the groin, upward into the abdomen and hip areas.

As the round ligament stretches, it becomes tighter and can cause some women to experience round ligament pain.

What Causes Round Ligament Pain?

When a woman is not pregnant, the round ligaments that support the uterus are shorter and firm but flexible, and the ligaments stretch and contract slowly.

During pregnancy these ligaments lengthen and stretch, they are under so much tension that they may stretch and contract rapidly, causing the ligament to spasm or pull on nerve endings.

Certain movements commonly trigger round ligament pain in pregnant women, such as:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Laughing
  • Rolling over in bed
  • Standing up quickly
  • Walking
  • Sudden or rapid movements

Generally, round ligament pain during pregnancy is experienced during the second trimester, but it may continue into the third trimester as well.

What Does Round Ligament Pain Feel Like?

Round ligament pain feels like a sudden deep, sharp, stabbing, stretching or spasm pain in one or both sides of the lower abdomen or groin.

The pain usually lasts for a few seconds, but overworked ligaments can leave you feeling achy for longer periods.

It generally affects the right side, but it can occur on the left side or in both sides.

Treatment For Round Ligament Pain

Most of the time, round ligament pain will go away on its own.  However, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce and/or prevent it.

  • Pain relief – consult your doctor regarding appropriate options
  • Rest on your side, with knees bent and pillows between your legs and under your belly
  • Change positions slowly to avoid sudden movements that may cause pain
  • Flex your hips before coughing, sneezing and laughing to avoid pulling on the ligaments
  • Apply warmth with heat pads or a warm (not hot) bath
  • Try to modify activities and positions that may cause pain
  • Exercise such as pregnancy pilates to keep your core strong
  • A belly belt will help to support the ligaments and alleviate some of the load
  • Belly taping techniques can be applied by your physiotherapist 

Talk to your maternal health physiotherapist about how to prevent and manage round ligament pain, for a more comfortable pregnancy.

If you are concerned or unsure about pain you are experiencing talk to your doctor, as it is important for your doctor to rule out more serious conditions