When it comes to pregnancy, there are well known symptoms to expect. Nausea, fatigue, and tender breasts fall into this category of known discomforts. Unfortunately, some pregnancy pains fly under the radar only to emerge in the second or third trimester as an unwelcome surprise. Lighting crotch, which has no scientific name but is nonetheless very real, was definitely an unknown symptom to me. In both of my pregnancies, as my belly grew I experienced more pain while standing and walking. However, what experts want you to know about pregnancy lightning crotch is that it's "completely normal," among other things.
The phrase "lightning crotch" sounds like it could come from a Cosmopolitan article on achieving your best orgasm, but sadly the corresponding sensation is one of pain, not pleasure. "The majority of nerves in the uterus are actually right by the cervix," OB-GYN Idries Abdur-Rahman told SELF, meaning that pressure on your cervix from an expanding uterus triggers these nerves, sending stabs of pain into your vagina. Varicose veins can also contribute to pregnancy lightning crotch.
In a first-person essay for Romper, Steph Montgomery writes that lighting crotch "felt like a sharp pain in my vagina — literally like electricity was shooting out of my cervix — or maybe like my baby was stabbing me with something sharp, or had, perhaps, somehow acquired a taser." Wearing a pregnancy support band helped Montgomery alleviate some of the pain, but it didn't completely disappear until after the birth of her daughter. Here's what you need to know about lightning crotch to cope during your own pregnancy.
Lightning Crotch Is A Common Symptom
Montgomery writes that her midwife "stifled a laugh" when she called in a panic over the stabbing pain in her vagina. While Montgomery was worried that something was wrong with the baby, her midwife reassured her that lightning crotch happens to many pregnant women as they get closer to delivery. So experts want you to know that lightning crotch is normal. You can ask for tips to deal with the pain at your next prenatal visit, but there's no need to make a special call.
While lightning crotch can happen anytime, it is "most common when mom has been in one spot for a prolonged period of time — for example, after sleeping in one position then getting up to go to the bathroom, or after sitting at a computer or in a car for several hours," reported Today's Parent. So try to keep moving to avoid incidents of lightning pain. Frequent trips to the bathroom may keep you in motion anyway, but if they don't, try to at least get up from your seat and stretch every half or so. Avoid long car trips if possible.
It Could Mean Baby Is Coming Soon
While not usually a sign of imminent labor, lightning crotch can "signify that baby is moving lower into your pelvis [to get] ready for birth. This is fabulous news if you are at term but if you are less than 37 weeks pregnant you may want to get checked out by your midwife or doctor," Midwife Linda Bryceland tells International Business Times.
Of course, many a tired-of-being-pregnant women (including me) have learned that just because baby is lower or your cervix is one or two centimeters dilated doesn't mean you'll be grabbing your hospital bag in the next day or so. It can take a week or so for labor to begin after your cervix starts to ripen.
It Could Also Be Round Ligament Pain
Another common culprit of pelvic pain is the round ligament, which "connects the front part of the womb to your groin, the area where your legs attach to your pelvis," noted WebMD. Your growing womb makes the round ligament stretch more than usual, which can cause strain. That's why sudden movements, even ordinary ones like standing up or shifting your weight from one foot to the other, may tighten the round ligament and trigger sudden jabbing pain "down there."
Overall, the most important thing to know about pregnancy lighting crotch is that while it is definitely painful (and the Internet is full of formerly pregnant women who feel your pain), it is also temporary. Some people say that the extreme discomfort many women feel at the end of pregnancy is nature's way of psyching you up to give birth.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.