Causes of lower abdominal pain

I am 22 weeks pregnant with my second child and have had severe groin/lower abdomen pain for the past several weeks. It hurts climbing the stairs. My doctor says all is fine with the pregnancy and this can be normal. Why does this happen?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

This can be so uncomfortable. This type of pain is most often related to ligaments, which attach to the sides of the uterus and become greatly stretched as the uterus is expanding.

Women experience this at different times of the pregnancy, and some have more problems with this than others.

In my experience, second-time moms and beyond have a bit more pain than first-time mothers. Sometimes, the pain is worse between 12 and 24 weeks -- until the uterus becomes better supported by the pelvis. Women have had some relief with the use of maternity binders or maternity girdles, which support the uterus. Control-top panty hose have also been recommended.

I just had a client who could not stand to have anyone touch her near the lower abdomen. We did an ultrasound which showed a "prominent venous plexus" on the outside of the uterus. This is similar to a varicose vein, and elevating the legs and resting on the opposite side can provide some relief.

Pain walking up and down stairs could also be separation of the pubic bone in front. A good resource for you would be Elizabeth Noble's book, "Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year." A referral to a physical therapist would be wonderfully restorative. These knowledgeable practitioners are a great resource and can teach you body mechanics and provide a plan of exercise and therapy for you.

I hope this resolves soon.

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