Cramps during pregnancy are not always a cause of concern. Early pregnancy cramps can be caused by the fertilized egg implanting in the uterus. First trimester cramps and other symptoms such as bleeding can indicate a problem such as an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Braxton Hicks contractions or round ligament pain can cause harmless cramping later in pregnancy. However, if the cramping is severe or you have other symptoms, it could indicate a problem such as preterm labor or placental abruption.
Are Cramps during Pregnancy Normal?
It is normal to experience abdominal cramping and stomach pain during pregnancy. Early pregnancy cramps can be associated with common pregnancy symptoms, such as constipation or increased uterine blood flow.
Pregnancy pains may later be linked to normal symptoms such as Braxton Hicks contractions or round ligament pain.
However, stomach pain during pregnancy can be a sign of a medical condition such as a urinary tract infection, preterm labor, miscarriage, or preeclampsia. It is always best to immediately contact your doctor if you have any concerns about a symptom.
Types of Cramps During Pregnancy
During your pregnancy, you will experience various types of cramps. They are commonly associated with your body’s changes during the process.
Early Pregnancy Cramps
After the fertilization of an egg in your uterus, your body undergoes rapid changes at the start of your pregnancy. Implantation can cause cramping as well as pregnancy-related issues like bloating and constipation.
Cramping may occur during your first and second trimesters. During this period, your uterus will begin to stretch and expand. This can cause mild to severe cramping in your lower abdomen or back. It could be stretching, pressure, or pulling.
Cramping with minor bleeding is common during pregnancy, but you should still consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms. Bleeding and cramping are the most common side effects of early pregnancy loss, and they may also indicate other serious problems, such as an ectopic pregnancy.
Late Pregnancy Cramps
During pregnancy, your uterus expands from less than 3 ounces to around 40 ounces, with the capacity to hold more than a gallon of fluid. Cramps can occur as the uterus grows, moves, and stretches. As your pregnancy progresses, your pain and discomfort may become more frequent and intense.
Round ligament pain, also known as growing pains, occurs when the muscle that supports your uterus stretches to accommodate your growing bump. It can begin in the second trimester and causes sharp or dull pain in the lower abdomen. The pain may be more intense if you carry more than one baby.
Causes of Early Pregnancy Cramps
There are several reasons behind early pregnancy cramps in the first few weeks and months.
You Could have Gas
Gas and bloating are common pregnancy complaints due to increased levels of progesterone, a hormone that calms the smooth muscles in your digestive system. As a result, your digestion becomes slower. This can cause pregnancy-related bloating and constipation, both of which can cause cramping in your abdomen.
If passing gas or having a bowel movement relieves your discomfort, it is most likely due to digestion. You can help to prevent gastrointestinal issues by eating fiber-rich foods, eating several small meals a day rather than three larger ones, eating slowly, and drinking plenty of water.
Your Uterus is Growing
Early pregnancy cramps are frequently caused by your uterus rapidly expanding along with your growing baby. During the first trimester, your uterus changes rapidly. It is transitioning from being merely in the pelvis to becoming an abdominal organ and escaping the pelvis. Essentially, mild cramping could be caused by your muscle fibers stretching.
You Have a Urinary Tract Infection
A UTI is more likely to occur around or after the sixth week of pregnancy. Consult your doctor if your cramping is accompanied by excessive urination or burning pain when you go to the bathroom.
Relief from Cramping
Cramping can be a sign that you’re doing too much or are stressed. There are methods for dealing with the normal cramping that comes with pregnancy. It is often as simple as changing positions, sitting, or lying down for a few minutes to rest.
Take some time for yourself and help your body and mind relax. Breathing exercises such as meditation or controlled breathing can help you calm down. A nightly bath works wonders for many women. A hot water bottle placed gently on your aches and pains can also provide relief. Some doctors also recommend wearing an elastic belly band.
Pregnancy-A Beautiful Journey
Pregnancy is a beautiful time in your parenting journey but can also be very uncomfortable. Although discomfort is your body’s way of alerting you that something is wrong, mild to moderate cramps that settle after a while are a normal part of pregnancy. Still, it’s critical to discuss these cramps with your doctor. Remember to give yourself time to rest and relax. It will benefit both you and your child.