Causes Of Cramping In Early Pregnancy
It is common to experience mild pain or cramps in your abdomen during pregnancy. In most cases, abdominal pain in early pregnancy is caused by normal bodily changes such as:
- Implantation When a fertilized egg forms a blastocyst and implants into the lining of the uterine wall, it can cause a bit of cramping in your lower abdomen. This is known as implantation cramping and is often one of the first signs of pregnancy.
- Uterine growth During the first two trimesters, there is rapid uterine growth to accommodate the growing fetus. This can also lead to early pregnancy cramping. As the ligaments and muscles that support the uterus also grow, you might experience sharp pain when you stand, change position, or sneeze/cough.
- Orgasm If you have sex while pregnant, you may experience cramps after an orgasm. The pain may feel similar to a period cramp and usually goes away quickly. This doesnt mean that you have to stop having sex if youre pregnant, though. That being said, if the pain is severe and accompanied by bleeding, consult with your health care provider immediately.
In rare cases, early pregnancy cramps may be caused by the following pregnancy problems:
Upper Stomach Pain During Your Second Trimester
Thankfully, the risk of an ectopic pregnancy is over once you sail into the second trimester. But if you had heartburn during your first trimester, thereâs a chance that it could continue well into your second trimester, too, according to Dr. Sharon Smith, MD, an OB/GYN. âIn the second trimester, acid reflux can still be the issue that causes pain,â says Dr. Smith. âAs the pregnancy progresses, the uterus pushes up on the stomach, so you’d get that mass effect in addition to the hormonal effect that dilates the esophageal junction.â
Acid reflux might not be the only cause for your cramping and uncomfortable feelings â it might be your gallbladder acting up during your pregnancy. While itâs not incredibly common, itâs also not entirely rare, either. âThis can happen during any trimester and can show up as upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and fever,â says Dr. Demosthenes. âAn ultrasound is generally very helpful in looking at the gallbladder but be aware that persistent and worsening upper abdominal pain can be a sign of worsening gallbladder disease.â
Are Abdominal Pains During Pregnancy Normal
As your baby develops and your bump gets bigger by the day, your body will begin to adapt to the little one growing inside you. This extra strain can often lead to mild pregnancy pains such as backache and mild abdominal discomfort such as stretching.
If you are concerned, give your midwife or triage a ring to put your mind at rest. And of course, if theres anything on your mind about your pregnancy, dont forget our expert team is on hand 24/7.
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How To Relieve Pregnancy Cramps
Pregnancy cramp relief depends on the cause behind the pain youre experiencing. These tips can relieve the most common causes of abdominal cramps during pregnancy:
- Lie down and relax for a while, which can relieve pregnancy cramps related to implantation, orgasm, increased blood flow to the uterus and round ligament pain
- Drink plenty of water, which may ease any cramping related to dehydration, bloating or constipation
- Soak in a warm bath, which can help ease pregnancy cramps related to increased uterine blood flow
- Wear a belly band, which can help relieve abdominal cramps linked to round ligament pain in the second half of pregnancy
- Change positions if you think youre having Braxton Hicks contractions
When To Call Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor if:
- You have severe nausea and vomiting, dehydration, a persistent rapid heartbeat, or pale, dry skin you may have hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness.
- You have vaginal spotting or bleeding you may be having a miscarriage or serious placental complication.
- You have sudden weight gain over a few days, severe headache, or blurred vision you may have preeclampsia, a form of high blood pressure that can endanger your health and the health of your baby.
- You have a fever over 100 F and chills, backache, or blood in your urine you may have a kidney infection or other infection.
- After the baby begins to move, you feel less or no movement for more than 2 hours your baby may be in fetal distress.
- You feel wetness or a leaking of fluid, unlike normal vaginal secretions or urinary leakage you may have ruptured membranes or leaking of amniotic fluid.
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What Are Sharp Stomach Pains During Pregnancy
It can be difficult and stressful for pregnant women to tell the difference between normal pregnancy pains and signs that something is wrong. As your body adjusts to accommodate the fetus, some discomfort or pain is natural.
While some abdominal pain can be normal, it can sometimes be a symptom of pregnancy complications. If youre experiencing unfamiliar, sharp abdominal pain, contact your doctor who can help you tell the difference. During routine check-ups, you also should update your healthcare provider on any pains youre experiencing.
Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy: Conclusion
Basically, abdominal pain during pregnancy is completely normal. In most cases, these are harmless contractions of the uterus.However, as always, there are exceptions.
You now know which complaints you need to be particularly attentive to.Your health and that of your child comes first. So if you feel uncomfortable or cannot properly assess the pain, a visit to the doctor is advisable in case of doubt.
If your doctor sees a need for action, the appropriate medical measures will be initiated. He will recommend a suitable therapy that alleviates the symptoms and combats their causes.
A little tip: taking magnesium supplements can be helpful against recurring cramps.
If everything is in order with the expectant mother and her child, the following measures can help to alleviate the abdominal pain that occurs occasionally:
Lots of rest and relaxation, more often lying down and putting your legs up Blanket and hot water bottle A warm bath
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Heartburn Symptoms And Pre
If your heartburn symptoms don’t go away with medicine, it’s important to see your doctor as it may be a sign of something more serious, such as pre-eclampsia. A pregnant woman with pre-eclampsia usually has high blood pressure and problems with her kidneys. Pre-eclampsia could also seriously affect a woman’s liver, blood and brain. Any pregnant woman can experience pre-eclampsia â almost 1 in 20 Australian women will develop it.
Because pre-eclampsia is dangerous for both you and your baby, you should let your doctor know if your heartburn medicine is not working. This is especially important if you’re also feeling very unwell or you have:
- sudden swelling of your hands, feet or face
- a headache that doesn’t go away with simple painkillers
- problems with your eyesight such as blurring or seeing flashing lights or dots
- a strong pain below your ribs
Find out more about how pre-eclampsia is treated here.
Tummy Twinges Pinching And Pulling
Some women experience feelings inside their stomachs in the early stages of pregnancy that replicate the sensation of their muscles being pulled and stretched. Sometimes referred to as abdominal twinges, these tingles are nothing to worry about.
Layla Rumble, midwife at The Portland Hospital, which is part of HCA Healthcare UK, said, Abdominal twinges and mild pains are very common during pregnancy and usually nothing to worry about. Twinges and abdominal pain is usually caused by constipation, ligament pain, or trapped wind all of which are a normal part of pregnancy.
Twinges, and pains can be alleviated by regular light exercise, eating smaller, frequent meals, having plenty of fibre-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water to help empty your bladder regularly.
If you find that you experience intense and ongoing pains, or pain accompanied by bleeding, it is important to seek medical advice from your midwife or GP to rule out anything serious.
What else could it be?If youve been heavily exercising or straining your muscles, you could be experiencing some tension from that, especially if youve focused on ab workouts. A tight stomach can also be due to other factors such as digestive issues, stress or hormonal changes, and doesnt necessarily mean youre pregnant.
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When To See A Health Care Provider About Your Early Pregnancy Cramps
Although early pregnancy cramps are usually normal and not life threatening, its also important to see your health care provider if the cramps become severe. Your health care provider can rule out any conditions such as miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or infectious diseases that may affect you or your baby. Here are a few signs and symptoms to watch out for. Make sure to see your health care provider if you experience any of these:
- Bleeding If your cramps are accompanied by any amount of blood, consult your health care provider as soon as possible.
- Severe pain If you experience severe cramps that dont go away and are getting worse, head to the hospital immediately.
Loss Of Appetite For Favourite Foods
Pregnancy can really mess with your eating habits, thats for sure. As well as craving foods you may not have previously been interested in, you can actually lose a taste for some foods and drinks that are usually a big part of your normal diet. Women sometimes go off staples such as coffee, tea or fatty foods. Changes in tastes and a heightened sense of smell are very common and can persist throughout pregnancy but do tend to be strongest early on, Dr Knight explained.
What else could it be?People often experience a loss in appetite when theyre feeling anxious or stressed. This is because anxiety triggers emotional and psychological changes in your body to help you deal with the pressure, they often affect the stomach and digestive tract and can make you lose your appetite. When youre feeling more relaxed, your appetite should return back to normal.
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Pregnancy induced hypertension
This occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus before birth. There is constant severe pain, and the uterus usually will be rigid and with a sustained contraction. There may be vaginal bleeding but much of the blood is retained within the uterus so the degree of shock will usually be out of proportion to the amount of revealed bleeding. Rapid transfer to hospital is essentialwith intravenous access and high flow oxygen. The receiving unit should be alerted as emergency caesarean section will probably be required.
This often presents with painless vaginal bleeding unless the patient is in labour. It is due to the placenta covering the internal part of the cervix. This can lead to catastrophic vaginal bleeding as the cervix dilates at the start of labour.
Pregnancy induced hypertensionpre-eclampsia and eclampsia
In early pregnancy the blood pressure is usually lower than normal. A blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg might seem fairly normal but in a pregnant woman implies pregnancy induced hypertension until proved otherwise .
Group 1features Suggesting Hospital Referral
There are very clear signs of definite surgical pathology with a large number of typical features of disease, for example classic appendicitis. In these patients the management plan is straightforward and little further investigation is needed in the emergency department. These patients should, therefore, be referred to the appropriate inpatient team .
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The Most Common Early Signs Of Pregnancy
Your body experiences a lot of changes during pregnancy and this can result in many different symptoms from early on, such as the ones below. But keep in mind, these symptoms dont automatically mean youre pregnant and there can be other medical reasons why youre experiencing these changes.
Here are some of the common signs and symptoms, and what else they could mean if you have them.
These Pregnancy Pains Are Typically Normal And Nothing To Worry About:
Gas and constipation are very common, Angela Jones, M.D., a New Jerseybased ob-gyn, tells SELF. Thats because the pregnancy hormone progesterone causes the smooth muscles in both the esophagus and bowel to relax. Normally, bowels contract to push waste along and out. But with this slowing down, the body has a tougher time ridding itself of waste, blocking everything up and potentially causing low-belly pain when pregnant. Dr. Jones says the buildup of gas can get so painful that some patients mistake it for something more serious and go to the emergency room. And it can get pretty damn painful. The best way to prevent this is to eat smaller, more frequent meals with plenty of fiber, and to drink loads of water, the National Institute of Kidney Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease explains. If youre experiencing gas or constipation pain, a stool softener can also help. Even though the products in stool softeners are unlikely to harm your baby, its best to check with your provider before taking any over-the-counter medications, the Mayo Clinic suggests.
If none of the above techniques work, or if your contractions last for longer than two minutes at a time and seem to get closer together over time, you may be going into labor and should call your doctor, the ACOG explains.
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Toxic shock syndrome
An incomplete miscarriage may result in products of conception caught in the cervix that leads to profound vagal stimulation with bradycardia and shock. These patients need urgent hospital admission because removal of these products will lead to a rapid clinical improvement and reduction in bleeding. Any tissue passed should accompany the woman to hospital.
Pulmonary embolism is still responsible for a number of maternal deaths. Have a low index of suspicion and refer pregnant women with shortness of breath or pleuritic chest pain.
Toxic shock syndrome is caused by invasive staphyloccal or streptococcal infections and is usually associated with tampon use. The picture is one of septicaemic shock. Manage by fast transport, intravenous access en route, and oxygen.
Case & Commentarypart 1
A 34-year-old woman who was 14 weeks pregnant presented to the emergency department with 5 days of nonspecific abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. On examination, she appeared well with normal vital signs and had some mild diffuse abdominal tenderness. Her white blood cell count was 19,000 cells/L, and a urinalysis was positive for nitrates and leukocyte esterase . She was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and was discharged on antibiotic therapy. No imaging was performed at this initial visit.
The patient returned the following day with unchanged abdominal pain and more nausea and vomiting. A fetal ultrasound was performed and found normal fetal heart activity. No further testing was done, and she was discharged home with instructions to continue the antibiotics.
Abdominal pain remains the most common reason for emergency department visits, comprising more than 11% of all visits in 2008. In 2011, 54% of patients that presented to the ED were female, more than 25% were of childbearing age, and the pregnancy rate in the United States is approximately 10% at any given time. For these reasons, clinicians that evaluate patients with abdominal pain in the ED should be familiar with common causes of abdominal pain in pregnant women and appreciate when nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is abnormal.
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What Causes Mild Belly Pain In Pregnancy
There are different causes for mild achiness or pain in the abdomen during the different stages of pregnancy.
- Some women have low, period-like pain or cramps early in pregnancy. But if pain is severe or felt on one side, call your health care provider right away.
Later in pregnancy
- As your belly grows, the muscles and ligaments that support your uterus stretch. This can cause a dull ache across the belly or a sharp pain on one side. Many women feel this pain most severely when getting up from a bed, chair or bathtub or when coughing.
- Gas pains and bloating may be caused by hormones that slow your digestion, the pressure of your growing uterus, constipation and heartburn.
- You may feel irregular contractions or tightening of your uterus muscles, often called Braxton-Hicks or false labor. False labor is usually painless, but some women feel pain. False labor tends to increase in the weeks right before your due date and can be confused with true labor.
Pregnancy Nausea Or Vomiting
It’s very common — and normal — to have an upset stomach when you’re pregnant.
Chalk it up to pregnancy’s hormonal changes. It usually happens early in pregnancy, while your body is adjusting to the higher hormone levels.
Good news: Nausea usually disappears by the fourth month of pregnancy . It can happen at any time of the day but may be worse in the morning, when your stomach is empty or if you aren’t eating enough.
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You Have An Ectopic Pregnancy
Severe stomach pain situated on the right or left side of your belly could be an ectopic pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when implantation takes place in the fallopian tubes or less commonly in the abdomen and cervix.
Its important you inform your doctor if you are pregnant with severe right or left side tummy pain. Other symptoms are dizziness, fainting and shoulder pain.
Risk factor, symptoms and treatment of ectopic pregnancy has already been explained here.