Sometimes Doctor Google can be your worst nightmare–revealing worst case scenarios and health horror stories that Stephen King himself couldn’t conjure. Other times, having the collective medical wisdom and experience of the Interwebz at your fingertips can provide a welcome sigh of relief.
Maybe it was that whole “finding a lump in my neck that turned out to be cancer” thing, but I’m just really leery any time something the least bit strange happens. Unfortunately, pregnancy is full of strangeness and things only seem to get stranger as the trimesters wear on, so the next six months will no doubt be full of my frantic consultations with Doctor Google.
Last night Theresa and I were talking before bed and I made her laugh a few times1, which caused a sharp pain in her side…right by the spot where the doctor put the microphone so we could hear our baby’s heartbeat at the last appointment. She laughed a second time and it happened again. She switched positions and it happened a third time. Third time’s the
charm, so I was troubled. We decided to go to sleep and see if this was still happening in the morning.
This morning, she reported that she remembered feeling it again in the middle of the night when she rolled over, so we decided it was time to pay a visit to Doctor Google and see if he could make any sense of this for us. Fortunately, he could.
I had never heard of this before, but apparently there is something called the round ligament that connects the front part of the womb to the groin. As things grow larger down there, the ligament stretches and becomes easily strained when the pregnant woman laughs2, sneezes, coughs, rolls over or changes positions quickly. This causes a rubber band-like snapping that results in a sharp spasm of pain on either side of the stomach that lasts a few seconds.
Doctor Google’s diagnosis perfectly matched Theresa’s symptoms and experience, so I was relieved to learn that this is a completely normal side effect of pregnancy beginning in the second trimester and that I wasn’t further detaching the placenta from the uterine lining3 every time I made her laugh or she turned over in bed.
Going through health and medical issues is a little bit like studying abroad for competency in biology or physiology instead of a foreign language. You become completely immersed in a new and unfamiliar culture with different norms and vocabulary, and you’re forced to confront unexpected circumstances and make important decisions with little prior knowledge. Just as you wouldn’t want to accidentally insult a native German when you’re simply asking to find a bathroom, you don’t want to assume your wife is on the verge of bedrest when it’s just a growing pain.
So round ligament pain is a thing. I’ll let my inner hypochondriac take a breather for a moment.