Braxton Hicks contractions are a bit more common in the afternoon or evening, and they can spring up after physical activity (including sex), according to the Mayo Clinic. They also tend to get a little more intense (and more frequent) as you get closer to your due date, the Mayo Clinic explains. There are a few things you might try to get rid of these contractions. If you’ve been standing, try sitting or lying down. If you’ve been sitting, get up and walk around, the ACOG recommends. You might also consider whether or not you’re hydrated. Often, drinking a few glasses of water and resting might alleviate your pain, the ACOG says.
If none of the above techniques work, or if your contractions last for longer than two minutes at a time and seem to get closer together over time, you may be going into labor and should call your doctor, the ACOG explains.
If you feel any of these pregnancy pains, you should give your doctor a call:
1. Sudden sharp, dull or achy pain in your right abdomen
This could signal appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix). Surprisingly, besides pregnancy complications, appendicitis is the most common reason for emergency surgery during pregnancy, Dr. Clark tells SELF. Around 0.1% of pregnant people will experience appendicitis during pregnancy, and it’s most common in the second trimester, according to the Mayo Clinic. “The pain may be sudden and may be sharp or dull and achy,” says Dr. Clark. “It is typically associated with fever, inability to eat, nausea, and vomiting.” See your doctor right away if you’re in pain and suspect something is wrong.
It can be difficult to diagnose appendicitis (signs like nausea and vomiting aren’t that different from pregnancy symptoms), but if your doctor understands your history and conducts a thorough examination, it’s a very treatable condition, the Mayo Clinic says. First, doctors will perform a series of tests and scans to confirm that you have appendicitis, SELF previously reported. From there, they might determine whether surgery is the best option. In cases where your provider decides that surgery isn’t right for you, they might prescribe antibiotics to treat infection and remove your appendix at a later time.
2. Sharp and intense pain in the upper right abdomen
Slowed-down digestion also slows the emptying of the gallbladder, which can lead to gallstones. Gallstones are often associated with pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, the Mayo Clinic explains. In addition to upper right abdomen pain, you might experience pain in the center of your abdomen, back pain between your shoulder blades, pain in your right shoulder, nausea, and vomiting, the Mayo Clinic says.
“If it isn’t too severe a case, gallstones can be managed conservatively with dietary modification including avoiding fatty, fried foods,” Dr. Jones says. Occasionally, some patients will need surgery, but in most cases, removal can wait until after delivery, she adds. In some cases, the gallstone can cause cholecystitis, which is inflammation of the gallbladder, the Mayo Clinic says. The symptoms of cholecystitis include fever and increased pain that won’t go away. In this case, surgery may be necessary.
3. Sudden pain in the upper right abdomen, paired with nausea
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-specific condition that involves a sudden increase in blood pressure and some kind of damage to other organs (usually the kidneys and liver), according to the Mayo Clinic. It usually occurs in the third trimester, but some pregnant people with certain risk factors are monitored for it earlier than that. More specifically, risk factors include having a family history of preeclampsia, chronic hypertension, as well as factors like age and race (Black women have higher rates of the condition than women of other races), the Mayo Clinic explains.
Round ligament pain
What is round ligament pain during pregnancy?
You have two round ligaments in your pelvis, one on either side of your uterus. As your uterus grows during pregnancy, the round ligaments stretch and thicken to accommodate and support it. These changes cause occasional spasm-like pains that are uncomfortable but generally harmless.
You may feel round ligament pain as a short, sharp or stabbing pain if you suddenly change position, such as when you're getting out of bed or a chair. You may feel it when you cough, roll over in bed, or get out of the bathtub. You also might feel it as a dull ache after a particularly active day, like when you've been walking a lot or doing some other physical activity.
Round ligament pain may feel like it starts deep inside your groin and moves upward and outward on either side to the top of your hips. The pain is internal, but if you were to trace it on your skin, it would follow the bikini line on a very high-cut bathing suit.
How is round ligament pain different from abdominal pain during pregnancy?
The sharp, jabbing sensation of round ligament pain shouldn't last longer than the few seconds it takes you to change position or get up. Although round ligament pain is a common – and harmless – pregnancy complaint, abdominal pain can be a sign of a serious problem, such as preterm labor, severe preeclampsia, or placental abruption, or a medical problem unrelated to pregnancy, like appendicitis.
When should I call my healthcare provider about abdominal pain during pregnancy?
Don't hesitate to call your provider any time abdominal pain during pregnancy continues after a short rest or is accompanied by:
What can I do to ease round ligament pain during pregnancy?
Your provider can give you tips to help reduce the discomfort of round ligament pain. You can also try any of the following:
- Stop and rest. When round ligament pain strikes, sit down and try to relax. Resting comfortably should ease your symptoms.
- Practice good body mechanics. Pay attention to your posture: Keep your back straight and shoulders back. Avoid movements that make the ligament pain worse, such as reaching or stretching too far.
- Change positions. Try flexing your knees toward your stomach, or lying on your side with one pillow under your belly for support and another pillow between your legs.
- Slow down. If you notice round ligament pain when you're physically active, slow down a bit to see if that helps. When you feel better, gradually increase your activity until you find the right balance.
- Try light massage. Gently massage the painful area with your fingertips.
- Apply warmth. Use a warm (not hot) water bottle, or take a bath to relax the muscles.
- Wear a maternity support garment. Many moms-to-be find that wearing a maternity belt or girdle relieves round ligament pain, low back pain, and pelvic pressure by providing gentle, firm support for your growing belly. (A maternity belt or girdle has a cutout section so it doesn't put pressure on your baby bump.)
- Consider a mild pain reliever. If the pain is interfering with your everyday activities, ask your provider if it's okay to take acetaminophen.
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What Does Round Ligament Pain Feel Like: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
There are no specific tests to diagnose round ligament pain. If this is your first pregnancy and you’re unfamiliar with this type of pain, make a doctor’s appointment to discuss your symptoms if you’re concerned.
In most cases, your doctor can diagnose round ligament pain based on a description of your symptoms. They may conduct a physical examination to ensure the pain isn’t caused by another problem.
Even if you know what round ligament pain feels like, it’s important to notify your doctor if your round ligament pain doesn’t resolve itself after a couple of minutes, or if you have severe pain accompanied by other symptoms. These include:
- pain with bleeding
- pain with urination
- difficulty walking
Round ligament pain occurs in the lower abdomen, so you may think that any pain you feel in this region is due to stretching ligaments. But this isn’t always the case. You could have a more serious condition requiring a doctor’s attention.
Severe stomach pain during pregnancy might occur for a number of reasons, including placental abruption. Other illnesses that can cause lower stomach pain include appendicitis, a hernia, and problems with your liver or kidneys.
In the case of severe pain, your doctor may need to rule out preterm labor. Preterm labor can feel like round ligament pain. But unlike round ligament pain which stops after a couple of minutes, preterm labor pain continues.
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