Lightning crotch is a sudden painful tingling in the pelvis, and although common, isn’t thought to be serious unless accompanied by vaginal bleeding, contractions, fever, or dizzy spells. Similar to the spontaneous “lightning” type pains associated with irritable bowel, lightning crotch is a vaginal pain during pregnancy. While the increased incidence of lightning crotch may be a result of the baby starting to engage in the pelvis, it doesn’t mean that labour is starting, unless maybe other symptoms are present.
COMMON CAUSES OF PELVIC PAIN DURING PREGNANCY
• PELVIC GIRDLE PAIN – a result of stiff pelvic joints during pregnancy, causing central pelvic and perineal pain, sometimes accompanied by clicking, which may shoot down the thighs.
• ROUND LIGAMENT PAIN – sharp shooting abdominal, hip or groin pain, sometimes with pulling sensations in the 2nd or 3rd trimesters
• SCIATICA – shooting pain and tingling in the lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs, due to the growing uterus compressing the sciatic nerve
• VULVAR VARICOSE VEINS – swelling of the veins causing vaginal pain, heaviness, pressure, and swelling
• PUBIC BONE PAIN - in the 3rd trimester
CAUSES OF LIGHTNING CROTCH
• PRESSURE – from the weight of the baby, uterus and placenta . The pain may worsen with foetal movement, kicking and engagement in the pelvis
• NERVE STIMULATION - nerve endings in the cervix and uterus are stimulated by the weight of the uterus and position of the baby, causing shooting pains and tingling
Normal symptoms tend to be short and infrequent, and include:-
• Pain that takes your breath away
• Sudden bursts of pain that disappear as quickly as they came
• Sharp shooting pain, tingling or pins and needles in the vagina, rectum or pelvis but if these shooting pains are accompanied by the following, medical advice should be sought:-
- pelvic pressure
- severe abdominal pain
- fluid leaking from your vagina• vaginal bleeding
- reduced foetal movements
- regular contractions at 37 weeks or under
- dizziness, blurred vision
- vomiting and diarrhoea
- severe headaches
- unusual swelling in the limbs
The only thing that will stop lightning crotch in pregnancy is giving birth, but if it returns and lasts longer than about a minute it may be worth getting it checked. The best preventive measures include:-
• TAKING REGULAR REST PERIODS -Standing for long periods of time increases pressure on the pelvis
• STAYING ACTIVE – maintaining a certain activity level will help flexibility of the joints and reduce excess weight gain which will also increase the pressure on the pelvis
• THINK ABOUT HOW YOU MOVE – Lightning crotch may increase with a lot of bending and twisting or lifting so reducing movements which increase pressure not only on the pelvis, but also the abdomen will help. This is why even some pilates movements for the core are not recommended with issues such as pelvic floor dysfunction, because of the increased downward pressure on the pelvis.
• USING A PREGNANCY SUPPORT BELT - pregnancy support belts help to lift the belly, reducing some of the pressure onto the pelvis
• SWIMMING - water can ease the pressure on the pelvis and joints
• MASSAGE – seeking massage from a therapists experienced in pregnancy will not only promote relaxation but also may help with strengthening supporting muscles and maintaining joint flexibility
Lightning crotch may worsen as the baby grows and when the head becomes engaged, and while painful it is only temporary.