Pregnancy changes the female body from the very beginning of the journey. The change in hormone levels and the growing uterus can cause symptoms like sensitive breasts, light bleeding, morning sickness and stomach cramps. Stomach cramps while pregnant is very scary for women. They usually assume that something is wrong, but this is not always the case.
It is actually very common for pregnant women to experience cramps, especially during early pregnancy. If you are experiencing them and would like to know if you should be concerned, continue reading.
What do cramps during pregnancy feel like?
There are so many types of cramping you can feel during pregnancy. It could also be a PMS symptom. You may have gotten a positive pregnancy test at home, but always get a blood test to confirm because evaporation lines are very common these days.
If your pregnancy is confirmed and you feel cramps, the cramps could feel like pinches and twitches. You could feel intense pressure in the lower abdomen. Some may hurt; some may not. Some cramps are very intense, and you may feel your stomach tighten and it may be hard to breathe. Usually, cramps during pregnancy are common, but sometimes they may be alarming.
It is very common for women to be scared to have a miscarriage. Some cramps do feel like period cramps especially early on. You do not need to be worried if the cramps are not accompanied by excessive bleeding. I say excessive because it is possible to bleed a little bit with implantation. That is totally normal.
Where are pregnancy cramps located?
You will feel pregnancy cramps in your lower abdomen. You may feel it all over or only on one side. It really depends on the cause. Some women may even feel it in their backs too.
What causes stomach cramps while pregnant?
There are so many causes for stomach cramps while pregnant. Some are normal and some are abnormal. Here are the causes.
- Early Pregnancy Symptom
The stomach cramps you are feeling could simply be implantation which is one of the early pregnancy symptoms. Implantation occurs when the embryo attaches itself to the uterine wall. Usually, this cramping is mild and feels like pinches or twitches.
- Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo implants somewhere outside the uterus usually in the fallopian tube. This could cause cramping and bleeding. This can be fatal. Your baby cannot survive if it does not implant in the uterine wall. You could have a lot of symptoms with ectopic pregnancy like shoulder pain, pain on one side of the uterus, bleeding, and an HCG level that increases slowly. If you think you are having an ectopic pregnancy, go to the ER.
A miscarriage is the loss of a baby before 20 weeks of pregnancy. This could cause severe cramping which may expel the baby out of the body.
- Round Ligament Pain
As the baby grows in your uterus, your body will expand and stretch. This will cause round ligament pain which may feel like cramps. It is very common.
- Braxton Hicks Contractions
These are contractions that occur before actual labor. You will feel your stomach tighten and it may be hard to breathe. It is totally normal and does not harm your baby. It should not hurt.
Preeclampsia occurs when your blood pressure increases during your pregnancy and you release protein in your urine. This is very dangerous and could be fatal. You would feel cramping, and it would be intense. You must visit your doctor if you think you are experiencing preeclampsia.
- Separation of Placenta
Placental abruption happens when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus. This can cause both bleeding and cramping. You must see a doctor in this case too.
Obviously, labor causes contractions. These cramps will hurt and will get worse with time. Walking will not ease them up. Nothing will. They will get closer and closer together. Your water may break, and you may begin bleeding lightly.
When should I be concerned about stomach cramps while pregnant?
It is normal to feel cramps during pregnancy, but they should not happen consistently. You should be concerned about stomach cramps while pregnant if the cramps are intense. You feel like there is something wrong. If you are having cramps with bleeding, vaginal water leakage or pelvic pressure, there could be something wrong.
Always call a doctor if you are concerned. Trust your instinct. When feeling cramps during pregnancy, try the home remedies I mention below to relieve cramps during pregnancy. If they do not work, visit your doctor.
Call your doctor, if you feel the following.
- Sharp or Intense Stomach Cramps
- Regular Cramps
- Intensifying Cramps
- Bleeding with cramps
- Leakage of water from the vagina.
- Pelvic pressure with cramps.
- You feel faint with cramps.
- You had more than 6 cramps in an hour
How to relieve stomach cramps while pregnant?
If your cramps are abnormal or severe, please contact your doctor. If they are mild, you can do the following to relieve cramps during pregnancy.
- Drink water.
Water can help reduce pregnancy cramps that are caused by dehydration and constipation which is common during early pregnancy. Progesterone increases during pregnancy to help maintain a healthy pregnancy, and this can cause changes to your digestive system.
- Rest your body.
During pregnancy, your body is changing drastically even at the very beginning of the pregnancy. Implantation and different physical activity can cause you to cramp. Laying down can help relieve stomach cramps while pregnant.
- Eat more meals but smaller amounts than usual.
You may have stomach pain because of nausea and morning sickness. If you do not eat enough, that can cause your stomach to cramp. Try eating slowly and smaller amounts throughout the day to help get some food into your system.
- Wear a pregnancy band or change the position you are in.
As mentioned before, round ligament pain can cause stomach cramps while pregnant. It is very common. Your body is growing and stretching. Wear a pregnancy band to help with the weight of the baby and move your body or change your position to help relieve the cramp.
Stomach cramps while pregnant are very common. However, sometimes they are concerning. If the cramps are intense and worrisome, please visit a doctor. The cause could be life-threatening.
About the Author
Halimeh Salem is the founder of Crying Toddlers Blog. She loves helping moms overcome the obstacles they may face during the journey of pregnancy and motherhood. During her free time, she loves playing with her two children, Sama and Basem.
Octavia Steen is an NBDA certified fertility doula, health coach, certified fitness nutrition specialist, aspiring missionary with the COGIC, and owner of Mother Mindset. She helps future and current mamas become more consistent in faith + fitness and grow closer to God so they can create a healthier lifestyle from the inside out!