Round Ligament Pain During Pregnancy
Updated: May 19
What is it?
Round ligament is a sharp, jabbing pain felt in the lower belly or groin that can be on one or both sides. It is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy, especially the second trimester. Pain can be “short-lived” and can come and go with movements such as getting in and out of a chair, rolling over in bed, coughing or sneezing.
There are several different ligaments that surround and support the uterus. One of those ligaments is the round ligament. The round ligament originates from the uterus and goes through the groin and attaches to the labia.
Round ligaments in the uterus are very specialized structures, designed to stabilize the uterus during pregnancy. As your baby and womb grow, the round ligament stretches which makes it more likely to become strained.
Round ligament pain can be concerning and uncomfortable. But it is considered normal as your body changes during pregnancy. It is a necessity for this ligament to stretch and expand as the baby and uterus grow.
The symptoms of round ligament pain include a sharp, sudden spasm in the belly or groin area. It usually affects one side, but it may happen on both sides. The pain typically only lasts a few seconds and then subsides.
You may feel round ligament pain as a short, sharp or stabbing pain if you suddenly change position, such as when you're getting out of bed or a chair. You may feel it when you cough, roll over in bed, or get out of the bathtub. You also might feel it as a dull ache after a particularly active day, like when you've been walking a lot or doing some other physical activity.
Round ligament pain can also be more prevalent when the pelvis has improper motion or perhaps too much motion. An imbalance of the pelvis can cause strain to surrounding musculature and ligaments causing discomfort in different areas. Baby position can also aggravate and over extend this ligament as well.
Care before the pain starts may help to prevent the pain during your pregnancy.
Round ligament pain is usually helped with chiropractic adjustments to the pelvis to restore motion and help improve pelvic balance and symmetry. We can often also release the trigger points in the round ligaments in just a couple of minutes, and show you easy techniques to do at home to alleviate round ligament pain. There are many other proven benefits, to both mother and baby, from receiving regular chiropractic care during your pregnancy.
Kinesiotape is often utilized to support the uterus and take extra strain off the ligaments to relieve discomfort.
Postural awareness is key with round ligament pain. It’s important to stack the chest over the pelvis to eliminate extra unnecessary strain in the ligaments. Diaphragmatic breathing techniques can help stretch the abdominal wall as well and help release tension. The round ligament starts to produce pain with sudden, fast movements. Taking your time and moving a little slower may help to reduce the sharp pains. Turning slowly, trying not to stand up too quickly when getting out of bed, and finding a less strenuous form of exercise are simple ways to reduce the pain. When rolling over in bed avoid using abdominals. Instead roll onto one side and use your upper body to push yourself up. When coughing or sneezing bend the legs to bring them closer to the chest to take pressure off the ligament. When getting up from a seated position pre-stretch the ligament by pulling the affected leg backwards and pulling chest back to stretch the ligament before getting out of the chair and then use your arms behind you to push yourself up.
Yoga can be quite helpful, as can other stretching exercises. Movement in the pelvis with pelvic tilts are very helpful when it comes to loosening the round ligaments. Knee lift exercises are also helpful to strengthen and stretch the area where the round ligament attaches. Some clinicians may advise to do self-massage to the anterior pelvic region to help with pain.