What is Round Ligament Pain and How to Cope

You’re sitting on the couch when you remember that you were supposed to leave for the bus stop five minutes ago. So you spring to your feet, only to be forced right back down by a stabbing pain near your hip. Probably on the right side. Sound familiar?

If so, what you’re most likely experiencing is something called round ligament pain. The good news is that, while it can be painful, this is completely common in pregnancy and not a cause for concern.

Round ligaments are the located on either side of your uterus that helps hold it in the ideal position for fetal growth throughout the course of your pregnancy. As your bump grows, the round ligament stretches to support your womb. The round ligament connects your womb to your groin and is happiest when it flexes and contracts slowly. And like any other muscle, this one can cause you some decent pain if it’s stretched too far too fast.

That means that, if you move too quickly, the round ligament will be forced to flex suddenly, creating a sharp, jabbing pain for you. The pain is generally over very quickly, but it’s often sharp enough to cause you several moments of concern over what you just experienced. Round ligament pain can also be brought on by strenuous exercise, sneezing, laughing, rolling over in bed too quickly, and standing up too quickly.

Since round ligament pain is a fairly normal part of pregnancy, you generally only need to mention it to your doctor at your scheduled visits. However, there are a few instances where the pain does warrant an immediate call to your doctor. If your pain becomes so severe that you find it difficult to walk or breathe, call your doctor right away. Additionally, if your round ligament pain seems to be connected to pain using the restroom, lasts more than a few minutes, or comes with dizziness or fever, you should see your doctor right away.

The good news is that avoiding round ligament pain is straightforward. You need to focus on slowing down and taking your time as you move, especially as your bump becomes more pronounced. If you encounter regular round ligament pain, you can treat it with Tylenol. In addition, you can work to prevent straining your round ligament by being active during your pregnancy and practicing prenatal yoga. Keeping your core muscles strong and flexible is wonderful prevention.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.