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Round Ligament Pain, Symptoms and Treatment

This week, I took my 30 minutes recommended cardio per day and saved it all up for one day! Trust me, ladies, this is not a good idea!

My husband, my niece, her friend and I decided to walk from 10th Street in New York City’s East Village all the way up Broadway and 52nd Street. I held up better than I could have imagined, walking at a fairly rapid pace and I drank enough water to stay hydrated during the trek. I felt pretty good having survived the journey, and I know that exercise is good for me and the baby. But my body paid for it today with a new-to-me pregnancy pain.

When I first got a sharp pain in the right side of my abdomen this morning, I figured it was just the baby kicking, although I didn’t feel the pressure of a kick. This same pain came and went several times throughout the day; it was sudden and sharp enough to cause me to double-over twice.

However, with no bleeding, spotting, cramps, chills, fever, dizziness, contractions or anything else that would be cause for concern, I chalked it up to “just another pregnancy pain,” and turned to the Internet. A few quick searches reassured me that this pain is quite common, and is called “round ligament pain“.

With a name for my most-recent pregnancy symptom, a quick search on Babies Online turned up even more details and information on round ligament pain, which is extremely common in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

The pain is caused by the stretching and thinning of the thick ligaments that suspend your uterus within your abdomen. The pain may be worse (or, in my case, appear for the first time) after extensive exercise. If this is the case, rest should help alleviate the pain. I’m hoping to feel better tomorrow!

I found that changing positions (from sitting to standing) or, if I was already standing when the pain struck, bending or stretching, helped. After one particularly sharp pain that left me nearly breathless, walking around my house alleviated the discomfort. Rubbing the spot gently also helped.

Your doctor or midwife may recommend Tylenol if the pain is so bad that you can’t sleep or it’s keeping you from functioning normally. You can also try applying a heating pad, taking a warm bath or standing under a warm shower, although pregnant women are advised to avoid hot tubs or extremely hot baths.

Some symptoms may seem similar to round ligament pain but may actually point to a dangerous medical problem. When should you be concerned?

If the pain emanates from the lower right portion of your abdomen and is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and fever, this could signify appendicitis. Since some statistics show that 1 in every 2,000 pregnant women are diagnosed with appendicitis, it is important to get treatment immediately if you suspect this may be the cause of your pain. Pain from appendicitis will typically get worse over time rather than coming and going in short bursts.

If the pain is accompanied by blood in your urine, you could be passing a kidney stone.

Ovarian cysts or an ectopic pregnancy could be the cause of sharp abdominal pains, but this is more common in the first trimester.

Several articles I’ve read about round ligament pain describe my symptoms exactly, and I don’t have any “warning signs” of these other problems. This was enough to put my mind at ease. However, if you are in pain and can’t pinpoint the cause, call your health care provider immediately. It is probably nothing, but peace of mind is important during pregnancy.

As for me, I’m going to take a hot shower and hope these newest pains subside and don’t wake me during the night. And I’ve certainly learned my lesson about overdoing it with exercise.

The good news? Like any other pregnancy symptom, they will be gone in a matter of months.

The information in this post intended solely as a general educational aid and is not a substitute for medical or other professional advice and services from a qualified health care provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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