Hilary Duff will soon welcome her third child to the world. But even though her due date is about two weeks away, it can’t come soon enough.
That’s because, as the “Younger” star explained during an interview on Friday’s “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” she’s currently suffering from one truly painful side effect of pregnancy — a condition commonly called “lightning crotch.”
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Duff opened up about the ailment when guest host Brooke Baldwin asked her about how she’s been feeling.
“I didn’t have it with the other kids,” the 33-year-old explained of the intimate pain. “So I texted my midwife the other day, and was like, ‘What’s up with the stabbing pains in my vagina?!’ ... It feels awful, like you’re being struck by lightning.”
She was surprised by her midwife’s nonchalant reply.
“She just wrote back, and she was like, ‘Oh, lightning crotch’ — like it was no big thing,” Duff continued as Baldwin grimaced just contemplating the topic. “I was like, ‘This is quite traumatic.’ Like, it’ll just strike and all of a sudden you’re doubled over. And then it’s gone.”
Duff explained, “The term is called lightning, which is the baby getting ready for birth, lowering, so that you can actually breathe and ... fill your lungs up with air, which I haven’t been able to do in months,” she said. “But you get stabbing pains.“
While Duff maintained her humor about the sensation, the pain she and other expectant mothers face is no joke.
According to Dr. Christine Greves, a board-certified OB-GYN at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, Florida, "lightning crotch" refers to a "really painful feeling like just an electric bolt, twinge or something in the vagina or in the pelvis during pregnancy. ... Some have described it as feeling like a knife, because it's so sharp in feeling. And a lot of people have just called it lightning crotch because it feels like a lightning rod going there sometimes."
Greves told TODAY Parents, "There's no medical term so there are just theories on this but because it's a sharp pain, the thought is that maybe the baby has impacted an area where there's a nerve. Maybe the baby kicks it, maybe the baby moves in a certain area where it touches that nerve that's extra sensitive.
"Usually it happens a little bit later on in the pregnancies when the baby is larger, to be able to feel it. ... It doesn't usually happen in the first trimester, but again, there isn't really any medical literature to be able to state when exactly this is going to occur, the exact cause and everything."
Not everyone who is pregnant may experience the phenomenon and it isn't something to be too concerned about. "It's usually short-lived and ends on its own but if you're bothered by it you can try to change positions, stand up in case the baby's sitting on that nerve. Sometimes people wear support belts," Greves suggested.
"I actually experienced it in my first and only pregnancy and it was odd, to the point where I told my doctor, 'Will you please look and just make sure everything looks OK?' Greves recalled. "I have had patients, feeling that feeling as if something is sharp, and I perform an exam and it's fine. The key thing to be aware of is to know it's short-lived and there's not necessarily a pattern to it. It doesn't mean you're going into labor, it doesn't mean you're breaking your bag of water, etc."
Greves added, "Definitely make sure that it's mentioned to your primary doctor, but usually there's not anything to really worry about."
When asked if trading breathing difficulties for sharp pelvic pains was a good swap, Duff thought it over for a moment and said, “I’m not sure which one is better.”
Of course, she won’t have to deal with either sensation much longer, as she and husband Matthew Koma get ready for the baby boy or girl on the way.
Duff is mother to an 8-year-old son, Luca, from a previous marriage, and she and Koma share a 2-year-old daughter, Banks. But baby No. 3 remains a mystery.
“We don’t know the gender of the baby,” she insisted. “We found out with Banks what we were having, and I found out with Luca. And we were just like, ‘You know what? This has been a crazy year, let’s do something even more crazy and not find out what kind of baby we’re having.’”
She added that when they finally find out, “Either way, we're going to be stoked and so excited and just like, I think It’s going to be a giggle fest!”