I guess it should be expected that after seven pregnancies in fourteen years I would have some form of failing ligaments – but nothing could have prepared me for the pain and discomfort that round ligament pain caused me during six of those seven pregnancies.
My first experience with this nuisance was at 18 years old when I was pregnant with my lovely second daughter; if I remember correctly (this was 13 years ago now), I started experiencing the pain about my 6th or 7th month whilst pregnant with her, it only occurred in the night after sleeping in one position for a while, and I usually heard a scary creaking noise in my abdomen as I turned over – it freaked her father out and he insisted I go straight to the hospital to make sure the baby was alright. That was when the doctor explained that this painful and scary thing happening to me was normal and affected most women during pregnancy.
Looking back now after having my 7th daughter, the pain I felt during my 2nd pregnancy was absolutely nothing compared to my 7th pregnancy. Although I experienced this discomfort with my 3rd and 4th pregnancies as well, the pain was much more tolerable and I was not as concerned because I now understood it and knew that it went right away after delivery.
It was during my more recent, 7th pregnancy that my body was simply not able to carry that heavy baby belly like it used to; especially since I had been pregnant every single year for 6 years (crazy? perhaps, lol). Well, my ligaments had had enough and my belly was even lower than usual – my little princess sat very, very low (which also freaked me out because I swore I was sitting on her head sometimes!)
The round ligament pain took its toll; I checked in to maternity ward three times during my final trimester because the pain was so unbearable in the nights I could hardly walk, roll over, or even sit up in bed. As I got mobile during the day it was not as bad as after sleeping for hours and hours in the same position all night – I really did not think I would be able to make it without being induced – but I coped by doing a few things that I realized helped to ease the pain throughout the night; and even when the pain was crazy, the good thing is round ligament pain is not the type of pain that is constant – but it can be a mad, sharp, freak-you-out, stabbing pain that hits you when you least expect it. Which is another thing – you have to pay close attention and learn what triggers that stab so that you can take your time and find ways to avoid it when doing the activities that aggravate the round ligament.
If you don’t already know; the round ligament of the uterus originates at the uterine horns (where the uterus and fallopian tubes meet), in the parametrium (the fancy word for the tissue that separates the supravaginal portion of the cervix from the bladder). The parametrium (called cervical stroma in some texts) lies in front of the cervix and extends laterally between the layers of the broad ligament). The round ligament exits the pelvis via the deep inguinal ring, passes through the inguinal canal and continues on to the labia majora where its fibers spread and mix with the tissue of the mons pubis (the rounded mass of fatty tissue lying over the joint of the pubic bones) – geesh, our bodies sure have names just as complex as their function, eh?
Anyway, the round ligament helps to support that growing belly we have when a cute little baby is forming within; but, in my case – I guess I wore those suckas out and they decided to start giving up on me 🙁 This leads to severe pain as the uterus expands and gets heavy-loaded with the precious gift within. Honestly, there is very little you can do about severe round ligament pain except cope with it until the baby is born – the wonderful thing about it though is that it goes away after birth. With my pregnancies before #7 it usually went away within a day or two – it took almost 2 months to be fully recovered from my 7th pregnancy.
I could’t lift my leg during or after pregnancy and when I resumed my little daily jogs the first few runs were an absolute pain and I could still hear the creaking noises in my groin (ouch!). I was scared a bone was going to just break off and start protruding (I had to keep reminding myself that the pain actually had nothing to do with my bones!). The pain was so bad that I had to call in the calvary during my daughters pageant and had her “aunty” (I am an only child so my kids have no “real” aunts – but sexy mama Aunty Britts is better than any blood sister) – Aunty Britts had to chaperone her during the pageant as I whatsapped from the audience because I could not stand for the 4 hrs straight it would take during wardrobe changes, makeup, etc. I felt even worst about this, but my baby girl went out there, Aunty Britts rocked her first pageant chaperone experience and the crown came home with us (yay!)
If you are facing this issue right now, or have ever dealt with it – we can both agree, round ligament pain is a b****! Luckily, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is our beautiful baby!
So, how exactly does a mommy cope with this madness for months, ever-anxious to just birth that baby; here are a few ways that I managed the pain without popping pain killers (which really do not do anything much for the level of round ligament pain I was experiencing.)
- An AWESOME pregnancy pillow (plus a few extra pillows if needed) – Try not to sleep without a pillow between your legs, by the time I hit my 7th to 8th months I was using my pregnancy pillow (which I used for my last two pregnancies, I still sleep on it, and it is an excellent nursing pillow too – in fact, it is on my bed right now and I catch hubby curled up with it sometimes too lol), I used this with 2 additional standard pillows for good measure by month 8. If I did not do this, simply separating my legs to get of the bed or turn over made me scream!
- Get a belly support band/belt – I think this saved me during the 7th pregnancy, it was the first time I ever used one and it was actually prescribed for me by my obstetrician on my third visit to the maternity ward dying of this round ligament sh!t… sorry, I really, really, hated that pain and the memory just flooded my mind while typing haha. The belly support band/belt is awesome, it is not at all sexy, but it really does take the weight off and it was really this that helped me get straight through the pregnancy without getting on my knees begging for an induction (which I did twice and both labors were the worst ever! – one by choice, one a must after being diagnosed with preeclampsia) – but if I could recommend any ONE thing for severe, severe, horrible, disgusting, mean, evil, round ligament pain; it would be the belly support! I even have it on in that pic above at my pageant queen’s pageant too; I could not have made it through the night without it I am convinced.
- Take short, slow walks – I know walking is the last thing you want to do with severe round ligament pain, but taking a nice, short walk with daddy and a comfortable space in a nice scenic area helped me to keep up with some form of exercise at least;
- Swimming – Simply floating around in shallow water can really help to take the weight off (literally); it is that one activity that helps remove that pull of gravity and weight; it allows you to flex a little bit and get exercise while the feel and sound of the splashing water calms and relaxes your hard-working body;
- Rest and take breaks often – Do not be afraid to sit down or lie down; if you have other children I know it can be impossible to get breaks; I still have to be an active, working mom during the first 8 months of my last pregnancy while dealing with this horrid ailment; I had to know when to ask for help and when to get out of the kitchen and call for pizza or when to lean on daddy and have him take over chores and bedtime;
- Start Mat-leave early if you must! – Very important here, it can be tempting to stay at work until your water breaks, especially since we only get 2 mths paid mat-leave in the Cayman Islands (and the 2nd month is only half-pay) – but when your body is literally creaking and has you walking like a 200 yr old woman while crying on the way to the bathroom at midnight to pee for the 100th time that night – go straight to HR and let them know you gotta go. I had to call it quits at the office for mat leave 1 mth sooner than I expected; with my 6th pregnancy I worked right up to delivery; no joke, I left work that evening and my water broke one hour later.
Another thing that got me through this was reminding myself that baby was fine; I said everyday that once she was safe, happy and healthy the pain I felt did not matter. Some days the pain was so bad I swore it had to be affecting her, but my little princess is so gorgeous and happy, what another amazing blessing. I sometimes do not even remember those disaster of nights when I the discomfort had me begging for labor to start. Pregnancy is such a wonderful, amazing experience but things like round ligament pain can really throw a wrench in to the celebration. Just pace yourself, take it easy and remember that it will all be worth it, and even better that it does not last after baby is born!
Good luck mommies!
Peace and love,
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