As your body changes and develops to respond to your pregnancy, it is common to experience cramping. This sensation may feel like someone is pulling on the sides of your abdomen and generally begins during the first trimester. This is not considered a symptom that can be used to detect a pregnancy, but it will occur during most pregnancies. In most cases, this is just a normal part of the pregnancy process, but in some cases cramps could be a cause for concern. Read on to learn more about being pregnant and cramping at the same time and which symptoms you should be attentive to.
Being Pregnant and Cramping— Why?
If you are pregnant, and cramping causes your discomfort, it can be concerning, particularly if it severe. But this can simply be a sign that your uterus is stretching to accommodate your baby. However, there are some signs that indicate that your cramping is a cause for concern. Understanding these signs can help you understand when you might need to seek medical attention.
1. Cramping During Implantation
Early in your pregnancy, you might experience cramping during implantation. This will happen 8-10 days following your ovulation. Women will often find out they are pregnant shortly after this happens. As your baby starts to grow, your uterus will also expand to accommodate them, causing the ligaments to cramp occasionally. Constipation or gas pains are also common causes of cramping or discomfort early in your pregnancy.
More severe causes of cramping early in your pregnancy include a miscarriage. This cramping will be more severe and will often be accompanied by spotting or more severe bleeding.
3. An Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy can also cause severe cramping or abdominal pain that often occurs on one side of the body. You may also notice spotting or bleeding in this case.
4. Round Ligament Pain
Later on in your pregnancy, you may experience round ligament pain. This is more common in the second trimester as your uterus is continuing to expand to support your rapidly growing child.
5. Braxton Hicks Contractions
Later on in the second and third trimesters, you may notice Braxton Hicks contractions which are irregular and intermittent. If the cramps are accompanied by back pain or diarrhea, it may be a sign of preterm labor. At the end of your third trimester, cramping or back pain may signal that you are going into labor.
6. Other Causes of Cramping During Pregnancy
|Protein in the urine, high blood pressure and pain in the upper abdomen may be a sign of severe preeclampsia.|
|Abdominal pain, increased pressure and cramping may be a sign that the cervix has begun to dilate, signaling preterm labor.|
Urinary tract infections
|Painful urination along with lower abdominal pain could be a sign of a urinary tract infection.|
|If the placenta separates from the baby before birth, it can cause constant cramping. Contact your medical care provider immediately if you think this has occurred.|
When Should You Call the Doctor for Cramping During Pregnancy?
In the first trimester
|If your cramping is accompanied by bleeding or in the lower center of the belly before 12 weeks of pregnancy, sit with your feet up or lie down and call your doctor immediately. Similarly, go to the emergency room if you are experiencing heavy bleeding that is soaking more than one pad an hour. These are signs showing that you are experiencing a miscarriage. If your cramping also has tenderness on one side of the body which is spreading across your stomach or dark and watery bleeding, you may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. This is most common 5-10 weeks into your pregnancy.|
In the second trimester
|Abdominal pain with no other symptoms is rarely a concern at this point as miscarriages are much less common. If you experience bleeding 12-24 weeks into your pregnancy or see any type of discharge, call your doctor to get advice on how to proceed. If your bleeding is heavy, go to the emergency room.|
In the third trimester
|If you have severe cramping in your third trimester, it could be a sign of premature labor. This will cause backaches, lower pelvic or abdominal pain or diarrhea. Your water may break and you may experience regularly contractions. If this occurs at the 24-37 week point, get medical assistance immediately, especially if you believe your water has broken. If you are past 37 weeks and you are experiencing cramping, your body may be getting ready for birth. You might notice pressure on your pelvis or constant pain in your lower back. Eventually, you will start having contractions as well. Lying down or going for a walk may help you to manage this pain.|
How Can You Ease Cramping During Pregnancy?
1. Get Some Rest
If you are experiencing cramps during your pregnancy, it is important to try to get some rest. Lie down on the opposite side from where the pain is occurring. Try sitting down or putting your feet up to ease your discomfort. Work to relax your body and mind, so the discomfort can fade. Some find a hot compress on the cramped area or taking warm bath to be helpful in relaxing cramped ligaments.
2. Have Sexual Intercourse
Some find that having sex or coming to orgasm while pregnant can release cramps or backaches. This causes the uterus and vagina to pulsate which can relax the cramped area. Have sex slowly and gently, and consider finishing the act with a backrub to ease all tension. In some cases, having sex can cause your nipples to become sore. This is particularly common in your third trimester. However, there is no evidence that this will cause you to go into labor.