Week 15: Round Ligament Pain

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This is your Pea in the Podcast for week 15 of your pregnancy. I'm Bonnie Petrie joined by Dr. Laurie Swaim, an obstetrician with Houston Women's Care Associates in Houston, Texas.

You're in the second week of your second trimester, so what's your baby doing in there? "15 weeks it looks even more like a baby: discernable feet, toes, hands which they've had for a while but now they look real, sort of more proportion, long skinny legs." Those long skinny legs are now longer than the arms and the baby's elbows and knees are bending more freely this week. Blood vessels can easily be seen through your baby's skin which is thin and translucent, eyebrows and scalp hair may start to appear and your bean is around four inches long crown to rump and weighs about two and half ounces. Now you may suddenly experience some sharp pains in your abdomen this week that could take your breath away but it's normal, it's round ligament pain. "Round ligament pain is the ligaments around that actually hold up the uterus in the front are actually called a round ligament and they attach at the top of the uterus and then they connect at the other end, actually in the labia. As the uterus grows they tend to pull and it hurts a lot, it's a very sharp pain, it's described as under the uterus, it can be on both sides, it's often times unilateral, it's worse when a woman gets up from her chair or couch or walks. There is nothing wrong with the baby or the mom, it is common around between 16 and 20 weeks. We get a number of complaints about it but there's nothing to worry about. Now it should never be associated with bleeding or fluid leakage or anything like that or frank abdominal pain." Now a lot of women have never heard of this and they don't expect it so when they feel it in their abdomen they think the worst and rush to call their doctor, "But if you have this sort of pain sort of underneath your belly specifically if it's one side, it only hurts when you're moving, the things I described, it's not really something you have to call about as an emergency." So how do you deal with round ligament pain? Well, when you get up from a seated position, do it slowly, same thing with sitting down. You can also try soaking in a warm bath or something like that to ease the pain a little bit.

So are you glowing yet? All that extra blood flowing through your body may give you rosier cheeks and a glow, as they say, it may also though give you nose bleeds, your mucus membranes are soft and swollen and your blood vessels have expanded and that means you may be dealing with troublesome nose bleeds. Your nose may also be causing another problem for you, some women find odors they used to enjoy or may have not even noticed are now offensive. That can make a trip to the store more interesting, I couldn't walk anywhere near the meat department. If this happens to you don't worry that's also normal. You may find your nose is stuffy is too, you can thank hormones for that; congestion is a common companion to pregnant women. You may also be congested because you're sick. When you're pregnant your immune system isn't as strong as usual, "It is true and we think that part of that might be so the mom doesn't reject the baby because the baby is like a graft, it's a foreign body." You're also probably exposed to more illness than some other people. Let's face it, pregnant women are the ones who have little kids and little kids get viruses at school and they bring them home and their mom catches them. So lots of moms get colds and GI viruses all the time." Some women will start to notice their hair isn't exactly the same during their pregnancy as it was before. You might experience faster hair growth, maybe thicker hair, although some women find their hair becomes thinner or oily or dryer or any number of differences when they're pregnant. Also if your pants are uncomfortable now but you still aren't ready to really start buying that new wardrobe, here's a trick that works for some, you could take a rubberband and wrap it around the button of your pants and then go through the button hole and back around and then attach it to the button. That will buy you just a little bit more time with your old favorites.

By now you and your healthcare provider have probably gotten to know each other a little and fallen into a routine, Dr. Swaim has a standard schedule that lets her see her patients regularly but it also has some flexibility, "I see them every four weeks until about 24 weeks and then I see them every two weeks and these are usually first babies, low risk, every couple of weeks and then weekly after 36 weeks. Certainly we see them more often if need be. Now with diabetics, for example, hypertensive, someone who's all stressed, some women with psychiatric disease, the list goes on and on �.I may see them more often. Second babies quite frankly, moms tend to be a little more chill and typically I may see them every three weeks in the earlier third trimester instead of every two weeks. Some people see them every four weeks."

Now the goal of prenatal care is to monitor progress of a pregnancy and to identify potential problems before they become serious for either mom or baby. The March of Dimes says women who do see a healthcare provider regularly during pregnancy have healthier babies, are less likely to deliver prematurely, and are less likely to have other serious problems related to pregnancy. Oh that reminds me, when you're making those prenatal appointments don't to forget to make your dentist appointment. Approximately 50% of pregnant women experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase your risk of developing gingivitis and then consequently gum disease. That can affect the health of your baby, it's been linked with low birth rate babies, believe it or not, preterm labor as well, that may be because oral bacteria contain a hormone that is also known to cause labor. So see your dentist, make sure to tell him you're pregnant.

You are 15 weeks pregnant, you have 25 weeks to go until week 40.

That is your Pea in the Podcast for week 15 of your pregnancy. Dr. Swaim and I look forward to talking to you again next week. Enjoy this week, we'll see you then. I'm Bonnie Petrie, thanks for listening.