lower abdominal pain in early pregnancy

lower abdominal pain in early pregnancy

lower abdominal pain in early pregnancy

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Stomach (abdominal) pain or cramps in pregnancy

Are cramps in pregnancy normal?

It’s completely understandable to worry about stomach pain in pregnancy and be anxious about this being a sign of miscarriage. But stomach pains or cramps are common in pregnancy and usually nothing to worry about.

Mild stomach pain in early pregnancy (during the first 12 weeks) is usually caused by your womb expanding, the ligaments stretching as your bump grows, hormones constipation or trapped wind. It may sometimes feel like a ‘stitch’ or mild period pain. It’s is probably nothing to worry about if the pain is mild and goes away when you change position, have a rest, do a poo or pass wind.

You may also feel light period-like discomfort or cramps at the end of your pregnancy. This is nothing to worry about, but call your midwife if you have any concerns.


When should I report stomach pain in pregnancy?

Stomach pain can be very worrying for pregnant women. Pain can make you fear the worst, such as a miscarriage. It’s important to listen to your own instincts. If you are worried about any pains you’re having, or you just feel like something is wrong, contact your midwife. Don’t be concerned about wasting anyone’s time. It’s always best to get things checked out.

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If you are having persistent stomach pain (pain that won’t go away) or cramping, or if the pain comes on suddenly it should be checked by a doctor or midwife immediately.

Relief From Cramping

There are ways to find relief from the normal cramping that comes with pregnancy. Quite often, it can be as simple as changing position or sitting or laying down for a while to get some rest.

Sometimes, cramping is a sign that you’re doing too much or stressed.5 Taking a few minutes for yourself can help both your body and mind relax. Try calming yourself down by using relaxation techniques such as meditation or controlled breathing.

Many women find that a nightly bath works wonders. A hot water bottle gently placed on your aches and pains can also bring relief.6 Some doctors recommend an elastic belly band as well.

lower abdominal pain in early pregnancy
lower abdominal pain in early pregnancy

What other kind of stomach pain should I expect?

Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions are a sign that the muscles of your womb are tightening. This can happen from as early as 16 weeks, but are more common in later pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks’ contractions are:

  • irregular (more than 10 minutes apart)
  • short-lasting
  • uncomfortable more than painful.

You do not need to contact your maternity unit or midwife unless your contractions become painful and regular (less than 10 minutes apart).

Contractions/cramps after 37-40 weeks could be a sign of the early stages of labor. This is called latent phase of labor.

When Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy is Serious

Although many women who experience abdominal pain have healthy pregnancies, there are times when abdominal pain can pose a serious risk.  If you exhibit any severe symptoms, such as those discussed below, please consult your medical care professional immediately.

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lower abdominal pain in early pregnancy
lower abdominal pain in early pregnancy
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: Occurring in 1 out of 50 pregnancies, an ectopic pregnancy is when the egg is implanted anywhere other than the uterus.  Most often, the egg is implanted in the fallopian tube.  Sadly, an ectopic pregnancy cannot continue to term and requires medical treatment.  In the unlikely event that you have an ectopic pregnancy, you may experience intense pain and bleeding between your 6th and 10th weeks of pregnancy. Women at increased risk for ectopic pregnancies include those who have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past or have had endometriosis, a tubal ligation, or an intrauterine device (IUD) in place at the time of conception.
  • Placental abruptionPlacental abruption is a life-threatening condition in which the placenta separates from your uterus before the baby is born. One symptom of placental abruption is constant pain that causes your stomach to stay hard for an extended period of time without relief. Another sign is bloody fluid or premature breakage of your water. Additional symptoms include tenderness in your abdomen, back pain, or fluid discharge that includes traces of blood.

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