Abdominal Pain

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Abdominal pain during pregnancy, also known as “Round ligament pain” is a sharp shooting pain or sudden spasm often felt in the abdomen or groin area on one or both sides, although it usually affects the right side. The pain only lasts for a few seconds. Round ligament pain is fairly common during pregnancy; it normally occurs in the second trimester. These pains may also be felt in the hip area and they may travel down the thighs and legs.

Causes abdominal pain during pregnancy

The uterus is surrounded and supported by thick bands of ligaments that connect to the groin, known as “Round ligaments”. As the uterus expands during pregnancy, the supporting ligaments stretch and thin out to accommodate this change and the increasing weight. This weight pulls on the ligaments which can cause sharp pain and/or spasms in the lower abdomen. 

Abdominal pain can also be caused by increased blood flow and the build-up of the uterine lining.

As the round ligament normally tightens and relaxes slowly, sudden movements can cause the ligament to tighten quickly, causing a sudden and quick jabbing feeling. Sudden painful movements include: exercise, sneezing, coughing, laughing, rolling over in bed and standing up or sitting down too quickly. 

How to cope with abdominal pain

  • Change positions slowly to give the ligaments more time to adjust and avoid sudden movements that may cause stretching and pain. Moreover, avoid positions that may worsen the pain.
  • Bend and flex your hips before sneezing or laughing or coughing which will help you avoid pulling on the ligaments.
  • Get plenty of exercise to keep the stomach muscles strong. Perform stretch exercises or prenatal yoga that will help benefit you. 
  • Apply a hot water bottle, heating pad, or take a warm bath or shower.
  • When having a sudden pain in the abdomen, bend forward to help relieve tension and relax the tissues.
  • Sometimes a massage can help.
  • Take a pain reliever such as Paracetamol in consultation with your doctor.
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids.

Contact your Ob-gyn in case the pain is severe, lasting for more than a few minutes, or if it is accompanied by a fever or chills, bleeding, strange vaginal discharge, or light-headedness, pain while urinating or a difficulty in walking. Very occasionally preterm labor pains could be mistaken for round ligament pain.


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