In my line of work, I've come across any number of strange and terrifying pregnancy terms, including "bloody show," "stress-induced incontinence," and "nipple hyperpigmentation," just to name a few. Given how challenging my pregnancies are (from hyperemisis gravidarum to multiple hemorrhoid surgeries), I've always been grateful that I've been spared from one symptom in particular: "lightning crotch." Until this week, that is. Unfortunately, I can now attest to the thoughts a pregnant woman has the first time she experiences lightning crotch.
According to Today's Parent, this so-called lightning pain is actually a type of pelvic girdle pain. It's a shooting sensation felt in the vagina and is about as awesome as it sounds. It can come and go, occur at any time of day or night, and hurt like a you-know-what. Most moms who experience this electric shock to their ladyparts feel it during the third trimester, as their due dates approach. According to Healthline, there are two primary causes, both related to pressure: that of the baby's head on your cervix or on pelvic nerve-endings. Fantastic.
My daughter, bless her heart, never punched me in the vagina (at least not while in utero). It's only happened the one time so far this pregnancy, at 32 weeks, but it's plenty for me. I suppose there's a first time for everything, and you better believe I was thinking the following and in quick succession:
“What In The?”
When you initially feel that twinge in your nethers, you have absolutely no idea what's going on. It's a sensation like no other. You can't be certain, but the thought does occur to you that this baby is actually a demigod whose father Thor has bequeathed him with a bolt of lightning with which to tear you in twain. Or something like that.
“OMG! I’m Having This Baby Now”
Vagina lightning is such an unexpected and alarming symptom that you can't help but feel like it must be the main event. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that baby is on their way. All it indicates, for sure, is that the nerves down there have been triggered. It's likely a sign that you're getting closer to "go time," but as it can come weeks before delivery, it's not generally indicative of labor.
“Be Nice To Mommy”
Lightning crotch is frequently caused by fetal movement: a change in position, an ill-placed stretch, or everyone's favorite — a swift kick to the groin. I'm sure it never occurred to you that you'd be reprimanding your baby before they're even born, but if you find yourself yelling, "Gentle!" to your belly, you're not alone.
Zap! Bang! Ka-pow! Congratulations, your hooha now has a starring role in DC's newest comic book, Wonder Woman and the Loins of Lightning.
“This Can’t Be Normal”
It feels like anything but, but lightning crotch isn't usually a cause for concern. It's a strange phenomenon, to be sure, but it's not considered to be out of the ordinary. That being said, pain at regular intervals, especially when accompanied by bleeding, merits a call to your provider.
“Did I Just Pee?”
With so much pressure on the nerves, it's hard to know exactly what's going on down under. I mean, it feels like you just got tased. At this point, I piddle every time I sneeze or cough, so naturally I assumed that this sudden jolt to the area would result in at least a little leak.
“Get Out Of There!”
Lightning pain can occur when baby's head engages in the pelvis. This is known as dropping or lightening (not my pet peeve spelling error, but rather referring to the lighter load you carry when baby moves farther down in your abdomen). This is a good thing, because engagement indicates that you're progressing, but that doesn't mean your initial reaction won't be to want baby to knock it off.
“Son Of A Nutcracker!”
Although all these thoughts race through your mind, the overriding one is most definitely, "Dude, ouch." Fortunately, the pain is usually short-lived, but you are absolutely excused for whatever profanities escape your lips when lightning strikes again.