What causes round ligament pain during pregnancy?

The round ligaments are a pair of cordlike structures in the pelvis that help support the uterus by connecting the front of the uterus to the groin region. During pregnancy, pain in the location of the round ligaments is common. As pregnancy progresses, the round ligaments become softer and might stretch. It's believed that pain associated with the round ligaments might be caused by the tightening or spasm of the ligaments or irritation of nearby nerve fibers.

Round ligament pain typically is experienced on the right side of the abdomen or pelvis, but discomfort can also occur on the left or both sides. The pain often occurs upon waking and rolling over in bed or during rapid movement or vigorous activity.

To relieve round ligament pain, try gentle stretching and changing your position. Avoid rapid or repetitive movement. Flexing your hips before you cough or sneeze might also provide relief. No medication is necessary. Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) might help, however.

Pain in the lower abdomen can have other causes, too — some serious. If you have pain accompanied by fever or chills, pain with urination, pain with bleeding, or moderate or severe pain, call your health care provider.