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10 Postpartum exercises to help you feel like YOU again

You carried and birthed a little human – you should be considered a Superhero!! And whether this is your first, second or third trip around the postpartum block, chances are your body feels a lot different than your pre-pregnancy old self.  The postpartum period affects every woman differently. Some women bounce back more quickly than others. Whatever your scenario is perfectly okay!

Your body has gone through a lot since you first got pregnant – that’s putting it mildly. And to think, abdominal muscles loosened and stretched to accommodate your baby, and can stay that way for up to 6 months after. Your joints also loosen up before labour and may stat way for up to a year after. But if you’re eager to get moving, you are probably wondering when it would be safe to turn to exercise and what types of workouts are best.  Your pregnancy, type of birth and any complications during delivery play a key role determining when you can start exercising and what type of workouts you are capable of doing. 

Long story short your muscles especially your abs are considerably weaker than they were when you first got pregnant.  In spite of your eagerness to “get back to normal,” please talk to your doctor before embarking on any sort of exercise program and ease into it at your own pace.

We’ve listed 10 mommy and baby approved exercises for you to try.  These won’t just strengthen your muscles but improve your mood and increase overall health. You will feel great and comfortable in your “new” mombod!

But First – Pay attention & listen to your body

So, you are mentally ready to get into an exercise routine and get your pre-baby bod back, and that’s great. But it’s more important to listen to your body than to take on too much, too soon.  Remember, the postpartum period is a time of healing and to be kind to yourself and ease into exercise.

Make a it a point to check in with your body during exercise and ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I feel?
  • Does anything hurt?
  • Does this workout make you feel good and energized or ready for a nap?

Take notes after each workout — at least in the early stages. By doing this, you can see any patterns or areas of concern that you may need to share with your doctor.

Red flags:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Discomfort in your pelvic region

If exercise is causing you pain or bleeding, talk with your doctor right away. Your doctor may recommend modifications such as decreasing the intensity and duration of the activity.


Signs that you’re doing too much:

  • Feeling exhausted instead of energized
  • Prolonged soreness in your muscles
  • Shaky muscles

If you experience any of these symptoms, take a break from exercising and rest and discuss your workout routine with your doctor.

Why is post-pregnancy exercise good for you?

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mood, strengthen and tone muscles, and increase overall health. But during the postpartum period specifically, fitness has the potential to:

  • strengthen and tone abdominal muscles
  • boost your energy
  • promote better sleep
  • relieve stress
  • help you lose any extra “baby weight” you gained

1. Planking

While it doesn’t officially classify as a cardio workout, it is great for toning and tightening your muscles all over the body. They are great for muscular endurance too because they require you to use your core, hip and glute muscles.  However, due to the amount of strain involved, you should discuss it with your doctor first and avoid doing it too soon after birth.

Once your body is ready, the great thing about planking is that it can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any equipment.

2. Walking

Take out that brand new stroller and enjoy the fresh air with baby around the neighborhood.  Yes, this seems too easy, but brisk walking is very effective. You can do it anywhere, at any time, even if it’s just walking a few laps around your living room.

3. Yoga

If you have someone to look after your baby, you can go for yoga classes which will allow you for some much-needed time out of the house.  If not, Yoga is also something you can do by yourself, at home, with baby close by.  Yoga is a great postpartum exercise.  It combines breathing, strength, relaxation and focus exercise.  Start with gentle stretches and work your way up to more challenging poses. 

4. Light Weight Training

Start with small weights if you want to do strength training, and place emphasis on the control of your movements. You can slowly but surely increase the size of the weights.  Remember to take it easy—very easy—especially when you’re just starting out post-baby and don’t overdo it.

5. Swimming

This is something you can do as little of or as much of as you’d like. It exercises a whole range of muscles in the body, but without any strain on the body or joints. Making it an amazing activity and a perfect choice for your postpartum exercise. On top of exercising all of the muscle groups, it can also be a good cardio workout once you step up the pace. You decide your level of effort and can take it easy one day at a time.

6. Pilates

It’s great for postpartum ab workouts, and like yoga, it can be done in the comfort of your home.  You might need to hold off on Pilates and stick to Yoga at first though – Depending on the amount of damage done to your body during childbirth or it very easy and only do gentle Pilates routines at first.

7. Light Cardio

Doing light aerobic exercises is great for getting in shape after childbirth. Like swimming, it provides a workout that involves all major muscle groups, as well as a heart and lung workout. Keep in mind that cardio does involve some impact on the joints though. Take it easy and don’t push yourself too hard and end up affecting your body’s ability to heal itself.

8. Pelvic Tilts

A great way to flex and tighten the tummy muscles. Like most postpartum exercises, you can do pelvic tilts pretty much anywhere. Make sure any incisions have had time to heal before attempting Pelvic Tilts, you wouldn’t want to accidentally rip a stitch or something. Ask your doctor if you are unsure about the right time to start with this type of exercise.

9. Abdominal Bracing and Kegels

This is great to begin repairing your pelvic floor. So, whatever type of postpartum exercises you decide on, always include Kegel exercises.  They help work all those muscles deep within your core and increases overall core strength. It’s quite simple.  You’re literally just contracting your stomach muscles and then releasing them in repetitions as you breathe deeply.

10. Workouts for Baby and Mom

We know it can be hard to find time away from your baby in the early months, Try these exercises that you can do with your baby. Take caution when completing them. (Make sure you’re fit enough, and have a good enough sense of balance, to assure your and your baby’s safety – Practice with a doll or rolled up towel first)

  • The baby glider: Holding your baby close to your chest, do a forward lunge with your left leg Don’t let your toes go past your knee. Then return to starting position and lunge with the opposite leg. This will help strengthen your legs, back muscles, and core. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.
  • The baby bouncer: This move is similar to the baby glider, but instead of forward lunges, do side lunges — stepping to the side instead of to the front — and do a squat. Repeat 8-10 times to each side.
  • Rock-a-baby squats and curls: Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Holding your baby tight and close to your chest, squat down, allowing your baby’s feet to touch the floor. As you rise up, bring the baby closer to your chest. Repeat 15 times. (You should do this exercise only when your baby is at least 10 to 12 weeks old)

There are many postpartum exercises you, as a new mommy, can do to get back in shape, depending on your health, tastes and fitness level. Just remember—take it slow and when in doubt, consult your doctor.

Have you heard of Belly Bandit?  Not only do they have excellent products available for pre- and post-pregnancy, but they are available at The O-Babystore too.  Some products come to your rescue with targeted compression to help reduce swelling in your stomach area after delivery and some to hold your belly while still pregnant.  There is a product available for any type of pre- or post-pregnancy scenario. Find the awesome Belly Bandit products here.

While you’re at it, check out our Just for Mom category and spoil yourself – You deserve it!!

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The O-Babystore’s Ultimate Baby Shower Gift Guide

A Baby shower is filled with plenty of excitement, fun games and lots and lots of gifts.  But finding the perfect baby shower gift could be quite challenging. Especially if you are not a parent yourself, you probably don’t know where to start looking or what to consider. 

Registry lists can be a great help, but what if there isn’t a registry, or what if you’d like to surprise the mom-to-be with something thoughtful of different that isn’t on the list?

Whether you’re shopping for a baby shower gift for a mom-to-be or for yourself as an expecting mom who needs a few ideas for their own baby shower registry, we have some awesome picks for you and they are all available at The O-Babystore!

Diaper Bag

This one in probably the most obvious as it’s the number 1 piece of gear that parents use but nailing it can be tough! Think about all of the new items new parents now need to carry – nappies, wipes, bum cream, bottles… the list goes on. The goal is to find a bag that can carry it all without being too much of a hassle to carry around.  We have just what any mommy would dream of having as their diaper bag.  Find our list of diaper bags here.

Baby Bottle and Food Warmer

Parents can evenly heat up milk or food when they need it with genius warmers like these.  There is even one that can be used when traveling. View the Bottle and Food warmers here.

Baby Monitor

Hands down, one of the best baby gifts ever.  Many parents (not just the new ones) tend to experience anxiety and worry around things like the fear of their baby stop breathing or SIDS.  These cool gadgets will set parents mind at ease.  View monitors here.

Breast Pump

If the new mommy is planning on breastfeeding, she’ll definitely be grateful for one of these to express. Find a variety of Breast Pumps here.

Pod or Docking Station

When you need to keep an eye on the little one but also need to get other stuff done, this little docking station, which keeps babies comfy but confined, is the perfect solution. See options here.

Digital Thermometer

This is not just a great idea for a gift but an absolute baby necessity.  Digital Thermometers are so cool baby’s temperature can be checked while sleeping without them even knowing.  Find a Digital Thermometer here.

Baby Bath

Help make bath time seamless with one of these award-winning portable baby bath tubs.

Sterilizer

Whether it is an electric or microwave sterilizer – This is a necessity!! See options here.

Leather Nappy Wallet

For a new mom, “quick trip to the shop” is no longer a thing. When she needs to step out but also needs to keep all the diaper bag essentials close by just in case, she’ll appreciate having this Nappy Wallet on hand. See options here.

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Reusable Diapers

Eco-friendly, durable and so adorable. These reusable nappies will definitely save the new parents money by not having to buy new diapers each month. See range here.

Toys

From Musical Soft toys to Sleep Trainers and Educational toys. These are amazing gifts that mom will be so grateful for and baby will love. Browse toys here.

Wipes and Creams

Baby essentials are always a winner when it comes to choosing what to buy the new parents. Choose organic! See Eco-Friendly and Organic products here.

Hooded Towels and Robes

Super soft and snuggly towels are the way to go. Hooded towels are best to wrap a tiny baby in after bath time. The robes are amazing for when baby is a bit older. Find all Towels and Robes here.

Changing Station necessities and accessories

New parents will go through a lot of different swaddles they find “The One”.  Make the choice easy for them with one of these beautiful swaddles. They can even be used as a wrap by mama on the beach. different patterns here.

Newborn Gift Sets and Baby Clothing

It could be argued that babies don’t really need all those cute outfits. But, come on!! Who can resist these adorable onesies and outfits? Find cute as well as super cool baby clothing here.

Woven Floor Mat

Plush woven floor mat’s can be used as decor or a play mat, changing mat and play area for a baby- Any mom would love this. View sizes and colour options here.

Changing Station necessities and accessories

From a Change Mat to funky Change Mat covers, Dingle Dangle Toys and Bins – Every nursery needs them and the mommy-to-be will adore them. Browse through changing station goods here.

Prints and Nursery Decorative Items

If the new mommy doesn’t have these yet, she’ll definitely want them. Find out that the theme of the nursery is and surprise the new mom one a set of beautiful prints. View nursery decor category here.

Moses Basket

How cute is this Moses Basket? Carry baby easily with the two handles or set the basket into it’s frame to rock the little one gently to sleep. Perfect for any new mom and baby. See different options here.

Blankets with a personalized touch

You can never have too many blankies. Order a special personalized one here.

Baby Carrier

As much as the new parents will love holding their new baby, they’ll get equally exhausted by it. This wearable carrier keeps baby close so mom or dad has their hands free. Find carriers here.

Dummy Clip with Teething Beads

Once the baby starts dropping (and throwing) everything, the new parents will be glad to have one of these to keep dummies from landing on the floor and they are great for itchy gums too. See all Dummy Clips here.

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How to choose the perfect stroller and travel companion for my family?

You are so excited to show your newborn baby the big beautiful world outside. But choosing the right stroller can feel like a mammoth or daunting task because where do you start?  Whether you’re go on regular walks or only use a baby carriage when you go to the mall or on vacation, your stroller is going to be one of the most frequently used pieces of gear you will own.   There are so many prams to choose from, with many different features, different age groups and colours.  This can be quite overwhelming – you just want the perfect ride for your family.  Something safe, compact and easy to use or maybe you are looking for the “Rolls Royce” of baby strollers 2020. I have put together a few key features, factors and key points to consider when choosing the right stroller for your family.

What factors and features to consider when choosing a stroller?

What works for one family might not work for your family. There are many different factors to take in account when choosing a baby stroller.

Lifestyle:  Probably one of the most important factors to consider when deciding on a baby stroller.  Do you stay in the city?  Are you an urban family who will be using the stroller every day?  Or are you a suburban family who will mainly need the baby trolley for walks around the block or mall?  What type of space do you have available at home to store the stroller?  Would you need to take your stroller onto public transport or up some stairs?  Do you plan on buying an all-purpose stroller or a complete travel system (baby stroller with car seat)?  Do you plan on upgrading the stroller as you little one grows?  These questions might seem like allot to think about, but your stroller needs to meet the your needs in order to accommodate you and your baby at best.

Family Size:  If you have one child, plan on having only one child or if there is a huge age gap between siblings, a single stroller will work just fine for your family.  But if you plan on having another baby within three years. Consider a stroller that can convert into a double stroller, or one that has the option to add an additional seat.  Maybe you are expecting twins. The double or twin stroller is designed for exactly this purpose but can be used for children in different age groups too.

Cost:  The price tag on strollers may shock some first-time parents.  Pricier strollers will often feature things like better suspension, higher-end fabrics and colour options, modular seats that can be switched between from and rear facing or convert to hold more than one child.  But it’s also possible to get a stroller that fits your family, needs and budget.

Accommodates newborns:  Not all prams and strollers can accommodate newborn babies.  This is because the stroller does not have extra padding or features to support your newborns head and neck. If you plan on using the stroller from day one, a travel system with removable seat would be a better option for you as the seat will have all of the needed features and padding to ensure your little one is snug and safe.

Easy to fold:  Being able to quickly open or pack-up the stroller with one hand can be a lifesaver. Even better would be if the stroller is also self-standing, meaning when it is folded it stands upright, by itself without tipping over.

Weight:  Is it heavy to carry?  When you are on the road, lighter is the better option.  A lightweight baby carriage will be more manageable taking in account that you will probably be carrying a baby, nappy bag and pram before setting it up at your destination.

Washable fabric:  Babies are messy.  Your baby stroller with take a beating from drool, snack accidents, spilled milk and the list goes on and on.  So, it will be great if you can remove the seat cover and throw it in the washing machine. 

Sun canopy:  Big canopies provide more shade and privacy for your baby.  Many canopies have a little window for you to check on your little one and some even have magnet closure, instead of clips and zips so it is nice and quiet.

Stroller basket:  If you plan on doing lots of shopping with your stroller, look for a stroller with an extra-large basket. It will just make your life so much easier when having to carry parcels.  The typical stroller basket will be located under the seat.   Baskets with a wide opening across work best. You won’t get frustrated getting to get your parcels in and out of the basket.

Other cool features would be a rain cover, snack and cup holders and toy attachments.

How safe is the stroller?

Safety first – always.  So, when it comes to hitting the streets with your baby it should not be any different. Almost all baby trolley models meet basic safety standards, but there are a few safety features to consider and ensure the stroller has.

Inspect the frame.  The frame should feel solid and steady, not flimsy.

Look for a five-point safety harness. Five-point harnesses are relatively standard. Test the snaps to make sure they’re secure. They should be easy to buckle (and not too easy to unbuckle, at least for baby!).

Put on the brakes — literally. Be sure to test how easy the brakes are to use — and how easy they are to trip, too. You would want them to stop securely. And that you can easily disengage the brakes when you’re ready to roll on.

Examine the edges. Little fingers and toes can get caught in tight spaces, so beware of any protrusions or sharp edges.

Lie back. How deep does the seat recline? This is important if you’re planning to put a newborn into the pram. Find a pram that can easily attach an infant car seat.

Ready to start shopping?

Head over to The O-Babystore, they have a selection of high quality strollers from Chicco, Bugaboo, Foppapedretti and Mamakids to choose from.

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The Benefits of Play – Part 1 – Dingle Dangle Toys

A Baby’s brain is like a sponge and they are eager to learn about the new world around them. Every new colour, shape, texture, taste and sound is a wonderful and exciting learning experience. Dingle Dangle toys that are safe and stimulating will help them discover and develop their senses. Toys with contrasting colours are fascinating to babies and stimulate their developing vision. Bells, rattles and toys that make a sound are definitely one of the favorites among infants too.

Babies reach developmental achievements during their first months through a mix of motor, sensory and emotional experience.  Playtime is a major part on your little one’s development.  From cognitive and physical development to emotional and social growth. Sensory toys involving textures, sounds and bright, contrasting colours are all great developmental choices for babies. By 4 months old, babies can bring their hands together and use their eyes to coordinate hand movement, they can hold their hands up, make eye contact and turn their head towards sound, they start to babble and treat us with a that beautiful toothless smile (Each baby develops at their own individual pace, talk to your paediatrician if you ever have any questions or concerns.)

Your baby’s development and happiness can be enhanced with high-quality baby safe products and toys products. A Dingle Dangle set or Play Gym is one of them.  It provides stimulation, learning opportunities and activities that are important for development.

Why is a Dingle Dangle Set so great?

Dingle Dangle Sets and Baby gyms allow your baby to learn the basics of cause and effect. Between about 6 weeks and 4 months, babies engage in something Piaget called “primary circular reactions”. This means they learn to repeat an action that they initially did by chance. Then between about 4-8 months babies begin to intentionally initiate these actions and repeat them because they find them fun or amusing! These actions are called “secondary circular reactions”. Some examples include grabbing, kicking or pulling a toy in order to make it light up or make sounds. This skill is important because it is the beginning of logic and the understanding of cause and effect. Dingle Dangles facilitate this development of the understanding by providing dangling toys and even kick- or pull-activated toys that respond to their actions, encouraging them to interact with them again.

Gross motor benefits:

This is probably the most obvious benefit of them all. Dingle Dangles encourage babies to use and develop the muscles in their arms, legs, tummy, back, and neck. Dingle Dangles and Play gym toys are great for tummy time too.  Tummy time not only strengthens your baby’s neck, back, and arms, but it also supports the development of higher-level gross motor skills (like rolling, crawling, walking), hand skills (developing the muscles), visual skills (teaching the eyes to work together). Additionally, when babies spend time on their tummies it takes weight off the back of their heads and is important for prevention of flat spots. The benefits of a Dingle Dangle set or play gym are unbelievable and supports all so many areas of development?!

Visual perception benefits:

When babies are born, they are near sighted, which means objects far away are blurry. They can perceive objects the most clearly when they are about 18 to 20 cm from their face, and Dingle Dangles are set up perfectly to accommodate for a newborn’ s developing visual perceptual skills. Newborn prefer objects with highly contrasting colours such as black and white. Babies begin to develop depth perception around 4 months of age.  They will also enjoy to toys more as they can see what they are grabbing when they reach out.

Grasping and reaching benefits:

Newborn babies grasping and reaching skills are dominated by reflexes, which means they automatically react in a certain way when stimulated and don’t really have any control over it. For example, newborns demonstrate a “palmar grasp reflex” and reflexively grasp anything that is pressed into their hand. This means newborns can grasp rattles or rings hanging as they learn to hold objects, develop a visual understanding of what they are holding, and build an understanding of cause and effect as they wiggle and shake toys.

Dingle Dangles can also facilitate babies’ development of the ability to bring two hands together while laying on their back while they hold a toy (around 1-3 months) and reach for an object with two hands together.

Sensory stimulation benefits:

Dingle Dangles often feature a different textures, sounds, and colours in order to stimulate babies’ senses. Once your baby begins mouthing objects, you can hang teething toys too so your little one can reach for them (on back or tummy) and bring them to the mouth for oral stimulation and exploration. The dangling toys in a play gym can also help develop the visual awareness skill. The bells, music or rattles hanging can help babies develop the ability to search for sounds with their eyes then to look directly toward where the sound is coming from.

How does it work?

Starting from the left:

  • Disc: Soft, multiple textured ribbons for tactile development.  Each disc has a special little quote. Tip – For very young babies, place it on the outer side so that it is close by for tiny hands to brush against, encouraging touch and feel.
  • Bell: As your little one starts to become more aware of their surroundings, they will be able to kick and tap the bell which not only keeps them engaged, but the playful sound promotes auditory development.
  • Resistance Beads: This one is oh-so-exciting because it’s stretchy! With long multi-textured ribbons to grip and pull, it allows baby to move to the next stage of development by encouraging those all-important gross-motor skills through resistance. Tip – For very young babies, place it on the outer side so that the ribbons are close by for tiny hands to brush against, encouraging touch and feel.
  • Character: What will your little one’s favorite animal be? Each set comes with its own Ruby Melon animal character to brighten up the nursery and create the groundwork for imaginative pretend play.

Good to know:

  • Suitable from birth
  • Mobile frame sold separately
  • Made from natural wood
  • Hand painted with lead free paint
  • Contrasting colours providing visual stimulation
  • Tie your dingle dangles to sit at roughly 20cm from your little one – this is the average newborn depth of field and is the perfect height for babies to touch, kick and keep them entertained
  • Create a play station by adding our Mobile Frame and Change Mat
  • Tie them to mobiles, cots, strollers, infant car seats…just about anything!
  • Approx. 40cm long
  • Do not leave your baby unattended during play
  • Each Dingle Dangle is loving made by hand – ribbons may vary ever so slightly
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Braxton Hicks – Braxton what??

pregnant woman sitting on bathtub

Our bodies are absolutely amazing.  Not only do we perform the miracle of life and grow an entire little human in our womb, and we have the massive job to deliver the tiny human too.  Our bodies change and prepare, by itself, for the final event – amazing.  While you might not be ready for your baby’s arrival just yet, your body has instinctively already started to prepare for the big day.  You will be reminded of this every time you feel your uterus tighten up.

Braxton Hicks are irregular and random contractions.  Often referred to as false labour pains.  Think of them as a dress rehearsal for your baby’s big debut. The fancy name came from Dr Braxton John Hicks who first described them in 1872. Braxton Hicks are often thought of as warm up exercises for your uterus in preparation for labour so even though they might be uncomfortable at times, they are most definitely a good thing.

You will start to notice Braxton Hicks around 20 weeks or so and increase in frequency and strength as your pregnancy progresses all the way until real labour starts– Some women have then many times a day and some don’t feel them at all. Your baby bump might tighten up, become hard, then go back to normal. The sensation, which might resemble menstrual cramps, usually lasts between 15 – 30 seconds and up to two minutes. 

What causes Braxton Hicks contractions?

They are caused when the muscle fibers in your uterus tighten and relax.  Your pregnancy hormones are hard at work.  They send messages to your body to start the labour process (very slowly).  It is best to call your doctor if you’re in a lot of pain or see any kind of unusual vaginal discharge.

Braxton Hicks vs. real labour contractions

The purpose of real labour contractions is to thin and dilate the cervix, whereas Braxton Hicks contractions are just practice for the real thing.

Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular, random and infrequent. The sensation, which might resemble mild menstrual cramps, usually lasts between 15 – 30 seconds and up to two minutes.  And they will get better as soon as you stand up or change positions.

If your contractions are increasing in intensity and frequency and you notice more than four in an hour, it’s “go” time and you may be in true labour.  Call your doctor right away or go to the hospital (especially if you aren’t yet 39 weeks pregnant) 

Real labour contractions are quite regular and grow stronger and stronger as time goes on.  Longer and closer together as you near labour. They usually last about 30 to 70 seconds each, and they don’t ease with a change position.  It’s time to grab your hospital bag when real contractions start. Real contractions may also be accompanied other labour signs such as your water breaking, losing the mucous plug or bloody show.

How are Braxton Hicks contractions treated?

There is no treatment for Braxton Hicks contractions. But there are things you can do to ease them, such as:

  • Changing position or stand up
  • Put your feet up and lay down if you’ve been very active
  • Go for a walk if you’ve been sitting down for a long time
  • Relax in a warm bath or have a nap
  • Drink allot or water – Stay hydrated
  • Use this opportunity to practice your breathing techniques for real labour

Other Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

Sharp, achy and crampy shooting pains on the sides of your belly are called round ligament pain (more info available on what to expect’ s website here).  Your uterus is supported by thick bands of ligaments that run from the groin up the side of the abdomen. As your uterus grows, the supporting ligaments stretch and thin out to accommodate the increasing weight.  Think of them as growing pains.

Round ligament pain tends to happen with movement, like standing up, rolling over, coughing, sneezing, or even urinating.  It typically lasts only a few seconds or minutes.

To help ease round ligament pain:

  • Change your position or activity. It might help to lie on your opposite side.
  • Support your belly when you stand or roll over. Move more slowly.
  • Try to rest. A hot bath or heating pad may help.
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