2. Round ligament pain
You probably haven’t ever given much (if any) thought to your round ligaments, but they play a pretty important role in your body—especially during pregnancy. Ligaments are cords in your body that connect certain structures to other structures, the Merck Manual explains. Your round ligaments, in particular, serve as connections between your uterus and your groin. Since ligaments have collagen and elastic fibers, they’re able to soften and stretch a bit, which is key because that offers some support for your expanding uterus during pregnancy. That expansion is where round ligament pain can come in. “[Round ligaments] get stretched as the uterus enlarges, so people can feel a pulling sensation, usually around the hip bones,” says Dr. Ahlering. You may also feel a bit of a pulling sensation in your labia, depending on how far-reaching the pain is. Fun! Round ligament pain can also happen if the ligaments constrict or spasm, or if nerve fibers close by becoming irritated, the Mayo Clinic explains.
According to the Mayo Clinic, round ligament pain can be worse at certain times, like when you wake up, when you roll over in bed, and when you’re moving quickly or intensely.
To help combat round ligament pain, consider a pregnancy support belt, says Dr. Ahlering. “They’re like [pregnancy] Spanx—girdles that, in essence, try to hold the uterus up and in. They can relieve some discomfort,” he explains.
Applying heat to the sore areas can also help—just be sure to keep things from getting too hot. “You don’t want to overheat, especially early in your pregnancy,” says Dr. Abdur-Rahman. He recommends taking a warm bath or using a heating pad on the lowest setting (if it has a temperature gauge, he suggests keeping it within the lower one-third). Also, round ligament pain often changes depending on your position, so you might find that it may help to stand if you’re sitting, do the reverse, or move around in general. Beyond that, the Mayo Clinic recommends gentle stretching, avoiding quick or repetitive movement whenever possible, tensing your hips before you cough or sneeze, and trying a pain reliever like acetaminophen.