The cervix is funny in that it's one of those body parts you aren't really aware of most of the time... until, that is, you get pregnant and suddenly it feels like somebody's stabbing you in the dang thing. Known as "lightning crotch," this bizarre and exceedingly unpleasant sensation is the result of increasing pressure on the nerve center by the cervix, and most of the time it's nothing to worry about (though you certainly have license to complain!). Sometimes, however, there are signs that your lightning crotch requires medical attention.
Of course, we completely understand the inclination to call your OB/GYN in a panic at the first onset of this discomfort (and by "discomfort" we mean "electrifying, aggressive bursts of agony"), but try not to freak out right away. Whether or not your symptoms are benign or potentially problematic depends on several factors, as does the reason why you have lightning crotch in the first place. Assuming your pregnancy is a healthy one and there are no cysts or other issues, this kind of pelvic pain in the first trimester might be due to your enlarging uterus and increased blood flow to your pelvis, both of which compress your bladder and make everything all around uncomfortable.
Moving into the second trimester, there are even more reasons why you might experience lightning crotch, such as your baby's intrauterine gymnastics (nothing like a tiny foot kicking you in the cervix!) and increasing weight. Varicose veins are another possible cause for lightning crotch at this point, as they can develop in the labia and vagina during pregnancy. What fun! And that's not all: Stretching of the round ligaments, explains Mama Natural, which support the uterus and pelvis, can result in this type of pain; some experts also believe that magnesium deficiency might make these symptoms worse, as it is essential for proper nerve function.
Unfortunately, the final stretch of pregnancy is usually when the symptoms of lightning crotch are the worst; the closer you get to your due date, the more likely it is that these pains are because you're getting closer to labor. As your baby descends lower into the birth canal, there's more pressure than ever on all those delicately placed nerves, resulting in stabbing pains that can extend to the rectum or even legs. Assuming everything is progressing the way it's supposed to and that you and your baby are safe, is there anything you can do to make lightning crotch less, well, awful? Honestly, like stretch marks and heartburn and swollen ankles, there's probably no way to completely escape this rite of passage (though not every woman experiences it).
Again, as alarming as these sensations can be, they're usually not a huge concern, but there are certain signs to look for, just in case. Be particularly cautious if you're less than 37 weeks along. If you experience any of these symptoms along with lightning crotch at any point in your pregnancy, let your doctor know right away: