Lightning Crotch: Sharp Pain in Cervix While Pregnant

Published July 13th, 2022 by Bridget Reed
Fact Checked by
Chris Riley
Medically Reviewed:
Camille Freking

Pregnancy can be an exciting and challenging experience for anyone.

New symptoms, aches, and pains, along with an ever-changing body, seem to happen overnight.

For the future parent, it can leave you wondering if what you are experiencing is normal or something you need to address with your doctor. 

If you’ve heard a pregnant friend talk about “lightning crotch,” you might wonder if this is a symptom you’ll experience in your pregnancy.

We’ll explain what these pelvic pains are, who gets them, and whether or not you should be concerned if they happen to you. 

What Is Lightning Crotch?

This pregnancy phenomenon refers to sharp, shooting pains experienced in the low pelvic area.

The symptoms of lightning crotch are pains near the rectum, vagina, or the general pelvic region. 

Normally, pains happen unexpectedly, last only a few seconds, and quickly disappear. They can feel like an electrical pulse, hence the name “lightning crotch.”

People who experience pelvic pain during pregnancy may have just one twinge or several within a few minutes. 

When Can You Get Lightning Crotch Pains?

It isn’t as common to get these types of pains in the early stages of pregnancy.

These pains usually occur during the late second trimester and throughout the third trimester (which we will explain in a moment). 

Some pregnant people will not experience these symptoms at all during their pregnancy.

What Causes Lightning Crotch?

There are a few reasons why experts believe some pregnant people experience lightning crotch pains. 

Baby Movement

The first time your growing baby moves can be an exciting experience. As your baby grows, their kicks become stronger, and sometimes, they produce discomfort.

As your baby turns, shifts, and stretches in your womb, you may experience pain associated with nerve endings surrounding the uterus. 

The further along your pregnancy is, the more discomfort you may experience. As the baby grows, more pressure is exerted on the uterine wall and the pelvic floor, leading to the sharp, shooting pains of lightning crotch. 

Dropping Before Labor

As early as several weeks before you go into labor, your baby will begin relocating lower into your pelvis, preparing for birth.

This process of changing positions and dropping lower into your womb is called lightening, and it prepares the baby to move into the birth canal. 

Lightening is usually a relief, especially if you have struggled with heartburn or trouble catching your breath during pregnancy.

The baby’s lower position helps alleviate these symptoms but also places additional pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor, which can increase lightning pains.  

Round Ligament Pain

Two large, rope-like ligaments on each side of the uterus help support it during pregnancy. These ligaments expand as your uterus expands, but you might feel sharp, shooting pains from their growth called round ligament pain

Because these ligaments extend to the pelvis, it is not uncommon for sharp, shooting pains to be experienced in that area as the uterus expands and the baby shifts lower into the pelvis. It is also not uncommon to feel back pain or backaches with round ligament pain.  

How Can You Get Relief From Lightning Crotch?

Lightning crotch is not a sign of labor, even though it typically happens in late-term pregnancy.

However, it can make the last few months or weeks of pregnancy uncomfortable. If you’re experiencing a lot of lightning sensations, here are some proactive measures you can take to get relief. 

Try a Support Band

Pregnancy support bands are supportive, stretchy bands you can wear around your belly to alleviate pressure on your pelvis and back.

Many pregnant people find this helpful in offering belly support during the final stages of pregnancy, and this can lessen the pressure that causes lightning pain sensations on your pelvis. 

Select a band made of supportive yet breathable material to ensure it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable or too warm. 

Switch Positions 

Many people experience lightning crotch sensations during nighttime while they are trying to sleep.

If this happens to you, try to switch positions to shift your baby’s weight from the nerves on which it is pressing. Just be sure that you are lying on your side in a position that is safe for your body. 

It is best not to sleep on your back or stomach during pregnancy. Sleeping on your back can place pressure on your nerves, causing you to experience numbness and tingling in your lower extremities. Sleeping on your stomach can be dangerous for your baby. 

Stay Active

Light exercise is part of a healthy pregnancy. If your doctor has given you the green light to stay active during pregnancy, consider taking short walks to increase oxygen to your muscles, release endorphins, and keep your body limber. 

Prenatal yoga is also beneficial in keeping your body ready for labor and helping relieve the pain of lightning crotch. Strengthening and aligning the tendons that support your body keeps you from experiencing sudden jolts of stretching and pain. 

Exercise can be incredibly beneficial in reducing many unpleasant pregnancy symptoms. Still, if your doctor has instructed you to take it easy or go on bed rest, you should avoid activity. 

It’s also important to stay hydrated if you do exercise. Your need for fluids increases during pregnancy, and you lose more fluid when exercising. 

Try a Warm Bath

Taking a warm bath can feel incredible when pregnant, especially during the last stages of pregnancy. Water helps support your pregnant belly, alleviating the pressure on your pelvis that can lead to lightning crotch. 

When taking a bath while pregnant, make sure your water is just above lukewarm.

Your body temperature should stay regulated to keep your pregnancy safe. Water that is between 98 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit is generally considered safest while you are pregnant. 

Taking a warm bath is a great way to practice end-of-term self-care and help your body and mind relax before giving birth, but it’s also important to only stay submerged for 10 to 15 minutes to keep your core body temperature regulated.

When Should You See a Doctor About Lightning Crotch?

Lightning crotch is a normal pregnancy symptom that you may or may not experience. It’s not a symptom of labor and does not indicate an issue with a healthy pregnancy.

However, reach out to your gynecologist and doctor if you experience sharp or shooting pains accompanied by: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness 
  • Fever
  • Fluid or discharge (including bleeding) from the vagina
  • Severe headache

What Is the Difference Between Labor Pains and Lightning Crotch?

If you’ve never had a baby before, you might wonder how to differentiate between labor pains and lightning crotch pains.

Lightning crotch pains are sudden, irregular, sharp, and fast. They do not follow any pattern and usually come and go within a few seconds. 

Labor pains are slower and longer-lasting, and they tend to feel more like an ache or deep pain that follows a rhythm once they start.

You’ll also experience labor pains in a different area, usually your mid to lower abdomen or in your lower back. Once labor pains begin, you can time them to see how far apart they are. 

Additionally, labor pains last longer than a few seconds. It isn’t uncommon for them to last 30 to 70 seconds at a time. 

Supporting Your Body During Pregnancy

Your healthcare provider or OB-GYN works to support a healthy pregnancy, but you can take steps at home to ensure you have the safest and healthiest pregnancy possible. If you experience lightning crotch pains, don’t worry. Give your body plenty of rest and hydration, and take measures to reposition your body to alleviate the discomfort. 

For more information on pregnancy, how to help with symptoms, and answers to common questions related to your pregnancy, check out our blog. Lightning crotch symptoms can be uncomfortable and irritating, but they won’t last forever and are usually gone before you realize what happened. 

References, Studies and Sources:

Healthy Pregnancy Labor and Birth-Signs of Labor | American Pregnancy.org 

Round Ligament Pain: What Does It Feel Like, Causes & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic

The Effect of Maternity Support Garments on Alleviation of Pains and Discomforts during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review | NCBI.NLM.NIH

Heat stress and fetal risk. Environmental limits for exercise and passive heat stress during pregnancy: a systematic review with best evidence synthesis | British Journal of Sports Medicine 

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