Are you having severe abdominal pain during pregnancy? Does it hurt when you pee? Do you think you are going into labor even when you are not? These could be symptoms of various cramps and pains that occur during pregnancy that may or may not be a serious thing to worry about.
From constipation or increased blood flow to the uterus in the first trimester to Braxton-Hicks contractions or round ligament pain in the second and third trimesters. There are various abdominal pains that a woman experiences varying from trimester to trimester and week to week.
Follow along to know if your symptoms mean something serious or not and when should you call your doctor.
Table of contents
- Is abdominal pain during pregnancy normal?
- Common causes for abdominal pain during pregnancy
- Serious causes for abdominal pain during pregnancy
- When to see a doctor
1. Is abdominal pain during pregnancy normal?
Stomach pains or abdominal pain during pregnancy is a normal thing and most of the women feel it during their pregnancies. It’s nothing to worry about but if you have some serious symptoms like severe abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding then you should consult your doctor.
There could be some common issues that can be treated or prevented by some lifestyle changes and medication whereas there are some serious issues that need immediate medical help. Some of these serious issues can be prevented by taking proper care.
Whatever it may be, you shouldn’t panic! Always keep calm during every situation otherwise you may worsen your problem.
2. Common causes for abdominal pain during pregnancy
i. Round ligament pain
It is one of the most common abdominal pains during pregnancy. It is a sharp pain often felt in the lower abdominal region and is considered a normal part of pregnancy.
Round ligaments are a pair of ligaments that is responsible for holding your uterus in its place. As weeks pass during pregnancy your belly stretches and due to the stretching of your belly, the round ligaments stretch too. Due to this stretching, there is a lot of strain on your round ligaments which results in sharp pain and discomfort in your abdomen.
Most women feel this pain during the second trimester on their right side but some women feel it on both sides.
a. Symptoms of round ligament pain:-
It is a common symptom and most of the women feel it in their pregnancies.
- Sharp, sudden spasm in the belly
- Deep, stabbing or stretching sensation which happens with your movement. Usually felt on the right side but it’s okay if you feel it on either sides or both of them.
b. Treatment of round ligament pain:-
- Stretching exercises
- Bending and flexing hips when you sneeze, cough or laugh.
- Belly belt. Belly belts help in supporting your bump and wearing them can bring relief to your round ligament pain.
- Take it easy. It is a common symptom in most women so there’s nothing to worry about!
ii. Braxton hicks contractions
Braxton hicks contractions are irregular contractions and relaxation of the uterine muscles. Often referred to as “false labor” pains Braxton hicks contractions are usually felt in the second to the third trimester of pregnancy. Not all women will have Braxton hicks contractions. They are not painful but will give you mild discomfort and if they feel the pain you should see a doctor. Difference between Braxton Hicks contraction and true labor.
These contractions act as a way to prepare your body for the delivery of the baby. It can usually be confused with labour pain but there are a couple of differences between them.
Braxton hicks contractions are:-
- Irregular in duration and intensity
- Occur infrequently
- Unpredictable and non-rhythmic
- More uncomfortable than painful
They are often misinterpreted with true labour pains but unlike true labour pains Braxton hicks contractions,
- Increase in frequency and intensity near the end of the pregnancy
- Lessen and then disappear only to reappear at some time in the future.
- Do not increase in frequency, duration or intensity
- Have different length and strength
Treatment for Braxton hicks contractions:-
Actually there isn’t any solid treatment for braxton hicks contractions but you can do a couple of things to ease the discomfort:-
- Taking some rest and lying down
- Lessen sexual activity
- Drinking more water for proper hydration
- Relax and do things that will elevate your mood like listening to music, reading a book or watching your favourite show.
iii. Common discomfort
When you are pregnant there are a lot of changes happening to your body. Your hormones are all going crazy and this can cause discomfort or irritation which usually doesn’t mean any underlying serious problem. Some of these discomforts are:-
- Morning sickness or nausea. Changes in hormones can make you feel nauseated.
- Backache in pregnancy.
- Bladder and bowel problems during pregnancy. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly to feel ease with these discomforts.
- Leg cramps. They are quite normal and happen to almost every woman.
- Vaginal discharge. It is a healthy process as it helps prevent any infection in your vagina
- Food sensitivities. You can develop some sense of craving to a particular food that you may not have had earlier.
iv. Gas and Heartburn
Heartburn is one of the most common gastrointestinal symptoms in pregnant women, with an incidence in pregnancy of 17% to 45%. Due to the increased levels of progesterone in your body, you can develop gas issues and similarly, you can develop heartburn issues because your uterus keeps expanding resulting in acid reflux.
These issues are nothing to worry about and taking some lifestyle issues can prove to be a major relief to these problems. However, if things do not improve with these lifestyle changes you can take medicines but it is recommended to consult your doctor before taking any medicine.
3. Serious causes for abdominal pain during pregnancy
i. Ectopic pregnancy
After the fertilisation process in which the eggs and the sperms combine the cells start to multiply and divide. The multiplied cells finally make way to your uterus. Thes multiplied cells known as a blastocyst make their way to the uterus through the fallopian tube where they are implanted to the uterine line.
However, in some cases, the Blastocyst doesn’t attach itself to the uterine wall instead it attaches itself to the fallopian tube. This is known as ectopic pregnancy.
If you feel cramping throughout your pelvis then the blastocyst has been implanted to the uterine wall but if you are having cramps only on one side of your pelvis then chances are you have an ectopic pregnancy. You must immediately see your doctor if you experience this.
Note: Not every woman experiences implantation cramps. So if you do not feel any cramp after 6-10 days of conceiving there is nothing to worry about. It is completely natural.
An ectopic pregnancy cannot proceed normally because the fertilised eggs need proper nutrition and space to grow which only the uterus can provide. Ectopic pregnancy can cause serious health issues to the mother. It requires immediate medical treatment.
a. Symptoms of of Ectopic pregnancy
- Early symptoms include one-sided pain in your pelvis and light vaginal bleeding.
- Lightheadedness, fainting and shock
Even your pregnancy test will show a positive result just like normal implantation and you’ll have the same symptoms like a missed period, nausea and breast tenderness but you need to look at other symptoms mentioned above to see if you have an ectopic pregnancy or not.
If not diagnosed earlier you may experience intense bleeding and pain from the 6th week to the 11th week. If you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy before you are at a higher risk of having it again.
ii. Placental abruption
The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. It helps in providing the baby with all the nutrients and removing the waste products from the baby’s body. It is attached to the wall of the uterus and is the only thing that connects the mother’s body to the baby’s.
During placental abruption, the placenta partly or completely separates from the uterine wall before the delivery of the baby. It is an uncommon but a serious issue of pregnancy.
Baby’s health can be seriously affected during this situation as the supply of various essential nutrients may stop. In general terms, the baby will not be able to breathe, eat or excrete.
Placental abruption is a very serious issue and both the mother and the baby are at high risk of losing their lives if medical help is not provided as soon as possible. Heavy bleeding takes place when this happens.
a. Symptoms of Placental abruption
- Constant pain that does not go away and your stomach feels hard for an extended period of time.
- Abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Uterus becoming rigid or tender
b. Prevention for Placental abruption
There’s no such way to prevent placental abruption, but there are ways to reduce the risk of having placental abruption.
- Don’t smoke and consume alcohol
- Monitor your blood pressure
Talk to your doctor to see if there are more ways to reduce the risk of having placental abruption.
A miscarriage also known as spontaneous abortion is a loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Unfortunately, 15 to 20% of the pregnancies end in a miscarriage.
There are a variety of reasons due to which miscarriage happens most of which are not in anybody’s control. But being aware of the symptoms, risks and causes will help you get any treatment you may need.
Most miscarriage happens in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. If a pregnancy ends after 20 weeks then it is not referred to as a miscarriage. The term used in that case is stillborn.
a. Causes for Miscarriage
When the fertilised eggs don’t form a proper fetus then miscarriages are most likely to happen. Miscarriage isn’t something that you have control over. If you are having difficulty with your pregnancy you should speak to a doctor.
- Hormonal irregularities
- Maternal age
- Consumption of alcohol, drugs and tobacco
- Untreated thyroid disease
- High blood pressure
Exercising or having sexual intercourse does not cause miscarriage.
Generally, miscarriages happen because of chromosome abnormalities. Chromosomes are the suppliers of heredity and chromosomal problems can lead to miscarriages in which both the mother and the father have nothing to do.
b. Symptoms of Miscarriage
- Brown or bright red bleeding with or without cramps
- Severe back pain
- Severe abdominal pain
- A clot like material passing through the vagina
- A sudden decrease in other early pregnancy symptoms.
Symptoms of pregnancy generally go away eventually but a sudden decrease in early signs of pregnancy could mean a miscarriage. You should talk to your doctor if you feel such signs.
iv. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
It is a common infection among pregnant women and it can be easily treated but if proper care is not taken it can lead to huge problems.
Due to the continuous growth of the fetus, a lot of pressure is being put on the urinary bladder and the urinary tract due to which urine may leak or bacteria may be trapped in the urinary tract.
The growth of bacteria is what causes infections. Some symptoms of having a Urinary tract infection are:-
- Lower abdominal pain
- Burning or painful sensation when you pee
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain in sides of your body below the ribcage
- Pain in the pelvic or lower back
It is rare that UTI becomes a major issue, generally, it is treated in the early stages and no problem occurs. But if you do not get it treated by a doctor you can land in serious trouble. See a doctor immediately if you notice any of the symptoms!
a. Prevention for UTIs
- Empty your bladder frequently
- Avoiding fragrances like perfume sprays
- Drink plenty of water
- Wear cotton undergarments
4. When to see a doctor if you have abdominal pain during pregnancy?
You should immediately see a doctor if you have the following symptoms:-
- Severe or persistent abdominal pain
- Spotting or vaginal bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Visual disturbances
- Pain during urination
- More than four contractions in an hour or two
Do not hesitate in calling your doctor and you shouldn’t panic if such symptoms show up. Always be calm and composed even if you feel any of the symptoms because stress and mental pressure can cause even more serious problems.
There are various reasons due to which abdominal pain can occur some of them can mean some serious issues are there whereas some are very common causes that can be easily treated to give relief to the pain.
Visit a doctor if you have severe back or abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding.
If the pain is not severe some lifestyle changes can usually ease the pain. Stop smoking and consuming alcohol if you do so, exercise regularly, meditate, do yoga and maintain a proper diet plan to relieve the abdominal pain during pregnancy.
If the pain is severe then you must immediately see a doctor!
Various issues can result in abdominal pain during pregnancy. Some of these are gas and heartburn, ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption, miscarriage, urinary tract infection, Braxton hicks contractions, Round ligament pain and some other common discomfort.
Abdominal pain during after urination can mean you have a urinary tract infection. It is a common infection among pregnant women. If you have symptoms like pain while or after urinating and nausea or vomiting there are chances you have an urinary tract infection. You must immediately see a doctor so that the infection could be treated
Most miscarriage happens in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding is usually the first symptom of a miscarriage and feels like an intense pain in your abdominal region.