Pregnancy

Young pregnant woman having backaches in the last trimester of pregnancy.
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Lightning Crotch Can Actually Tell You These 7 Things About Your Pregnancy

OMG, it hurts.

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For many people, experiencing a pregnancy involves some pretty wild moments you never expected. Lightning crotch is one of those common pregnancy experiences that doesn’t necessarily get talked about all that much (but can seem like a pretty big deal when it’s happening to you). Here’s what you need to know about that “zap” feeling down there, as well as what having lightning crotch means about your pregnancy in general.

“Lightning crotch is quite the colloquial phrase to describe the sharp, jolt-like, stabbing, electrical, or spasmodic sensations felt during pregnancy,” Dr. Richard Beyerlein, gynecologist and obstetrician, tells Romper in an email. Although this shock of pain can stop you in your tracks, it’s typically short-lived. So what causes this jolt? “‘Lightning crotch’ isn't specific to one particular type of pain, but is most commonly the term used to describe round ligament pain,” Jacqueline Battistelli, MD, FACOG, OB Hospitalist at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, tells Romper. Pelvic pain is not at all uncommon during pregnancy, and as long as it isn’t associated with other symptoms such as vaginal bleeding or fever, it’s generally harmless, as Dr. Battistelli further explains.

In addition, the shocking sensation can happen to anyone, and Hilary Duff was recently very open about her experiences with lightning crotch. (It’s about time more people started talking about this part of the pregnancy process.) Plus, it’s even possible to experience lightning crotch when you’re not pregnant, caused by anything from cervical cramps to a UTI. But for those who are expecting, here’s what lightning crotch can potentially tell you about your own pregnancy.

Your Muscles Are Spasming

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Pelvic floor muscle spasms are one possible cause for lightning crotch, as Dr. Battistelli explains. With all that’s going on in the body at this time, it’s no wonder your muscles might respond this way. “Pregnancy is an incredibly dynamic state, with the body accommodating and assimilating a phenomenal series of physical changes,” says Dr. Beyerlein. “The entire pelvic musculature, ligaments, tendon, and joints are maximally challenged to adapt to a uterus that is growing 500-fold in size, an increase in daily lifting work load approaching 1 million pounds, and adjusting to the pelvic bones expanding and rotating.”

Your Baby Is Moving

Fetal movement is another cause of lightning crotch, according to Dr. Battistelli. Once you’re able to feel your baby move during pregnancy, it’s clear just how active these tiny people can be. All that squirming around might trigger a reaction in your own muscles.

Your Nerves Are Irritated

In a very literal way, the pregnancy could be irritating your nerves. “All these changes [from pregnancy] irritate the complicated nerve bundles found in the pelvis,” says Dr. Beyerlein. “These nerves respond to irritation of the cervix, uterus, bladder, rectum, vagina, and surrounding pelvic tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons). And this contributes to the sensation called lightning crotch.” If the sensation is bothering you, then there are some lightning crotch remedies recommended by other moms, such as practicing deep breathing or wearing a maternity support belt.

Your Baby Is Dropping

“The symptoms of lightning crotch are common and tend to occur in the third trimester,” says Dr. Beyerlein. “This is often associated with the baby’s head pushing on the lower part of the uterus and is often called ‘dropping.’” It’s all just part of the body’s process for delivery prep.

Your Cervix Is Softening

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This is another sign your body is slowly getting ready for delivery. “As a woman approaches her due date, her body prepares for labor by softening the cervix. This allows the cervix to stretch, even shorten, with pressure from the baby’s head or Braxton-Hicks contractions,” says Dr. Beyerlein.

You May Have A UTI

“Sharp shooting pains become more concerning if they are more than just a quick ‘zing’. Pelvic pain that shoots into/up the back could be concerning for urinary infection,” says Dr. Battistelli. Urinary tract infections are the most common type of bacterial infection during a pregnancy, and they can lead to potential complications such as pyelonephritis, or infection in the kidneys, according to a report in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In general, though, these infections are simple to treat with a visit to your OB or primary care physician.

You Moved A Little Bit

Sometimes a simple change in your position can lead to lightning crotch, according to Dr. Battistelli. Fortunately, the pain does tend to go away quickly, even if it takes your breath away for a second. With that in mind, if you have any concerns about lightning crotch or any other health concerns during pregnancy, don’t hesitate to call your doctor for advice.

Although sudden jabs of pelvic pain are nobody’s idea of a good time, these brief zaps are often just a regular part of the whole gestating process. For the most part, experiencing lightning crotch means your pregnancy is progressing in a totally typical way.