If you’re 26 weeks pregnant cramps in lower abdomen could be alarming. The “aches and pains” of pregnancy are hard to tell apart sometimes. By 26 weeks, your baby is getting bigger and heavier. There are several muscle groups in the pelvis that hold up the weight of pregnancy. It is important to know how all of this works, and when you need to worry. This article lists some of the causes of cramping at 26 weeks, when to contact your doctor, and things you can do to help.
What Causes Cramps in Lower Abdomen at 26 Weeks?
Mild cramping in the lower abdomen around this time of pregnancy usually has a perfectly good explanation. Your baby is growing and your body is changing. Around the 6th or 7th month of pregnancy, your baby will have a growth spurt and your uterus will begin to stretch far up and out of your pelvis. Most often, cramping at this time is normal if it comes and goes. Just remember, if something doesn’t feel right or cramps persist you should contact your doctor. Here are some common causes:
1. Round Ligament Pain. When you are around 24 to 26 weeks pregnant, your uterus is really starting to stretch up and outside of your pelvis. This is a time of rapid growth for your baby, and your belly. The round ligaments on either side of your uterus have to stretch upward and outward. This can be painful and even feel like period cramps. They are most common when you are standing, but can occur when you are sitting or lying down. Round ligament pain should come and go, and is not usually constant. The good news is that round ligament pain usually goes away once the ligaments are stretched, but some women may have it off and on until delivery.
2. Gas. It’s crowded in there. In the late second trimester the intestines are moving pretty much anyplace they can find room. This may cause some new twists and turns, leaving less room for gas to pass through. Gas bubbles may get stuck in the lower pelvis causing some cramping. The weight of your growing baby makes it even harder for gas to move through your system. Couple that with gassy foods that don’t agree with your belly and you could be in for a bit of pain. Gassy foods to watch out for include beans, onions, peppers, and eggs for some people.
3. Food Issues. Food poisoning or a gastrointestinal virus can cause your lower bowels to cramp. If you are suffering from a case of diarrhea due to; food illness, food intolerance (dairy), or a virus, you may notice cramping in your lower abdomen. When you’re pregnant, raw unpasteurized, or undercooked foods increase the risk of foodborne illness.
4. Constipation. If you are 26 weeks pregnant cramps in lower abdomen may be because of constipation. Constipation is a given during pregnancy. Your bowels naturally slow down so your body extracts the most nutrients from what you eat. Then, late in the second trimester the bowels have less room for things to move through. Not eating enough fiber can make it even harder to go, and you are left in pain until it passes.
5. Early Labor. There is always a concern that cramping may be a sign of early labor. This is too early for baby to come meet the world, so cramping that does not go away or is severe needs to be checked by your doctor. Some women experience cramping and lower back pain, but are unaware their uterus is contracting.
When To Worry/Contacting Your Doctor
Cramping during pregnancy may not be anything to worry about, but is something you need to get checked out. While it may be one of the innocent things like; gas, constipation or food illness, it could also be a sign something isn’t right with the pregnancy. Better to err on the side of caution with this symptom and if you feel something isn’t right, contact your doctor right away. Symptoms to worry about with cramping include:
- Bleeding or spotting
- Less movements from baby
- Gush of fluid from your vagina
- Braxton-Hicks Contractions that don’t stop or become more frequent
- Severe cramping that does not go away or has you doubled over
- Sudden and sharp searing pain in your pelvis
In some cases, heavy bleeding or sharp pain will need to be evaluated immediately. Call 9-1-1 or have someone get you to the nearest emergency room. In rare cases, you may be suffering from the placenta separating from the uterine wall known as, placental abruption.
What You Can Do About It
If you’ve checked with your doctor and things look okay, there are a few things you can do. At 26 weeks pregnant cramps in lower abdomen may be easily relieved with a few home measures. You can try:
- Take a warm bath. You can run some warm bath water and sit in the tub. Try adding some epsom salts for soaking. The magnesium will absorb into your muscles and relax the cramping. Even a hot shower may help relieve some of the pain.
- Go for a walk. Try walking. You may just need to move around a little bit. Sitting or standing in one place for long periods of time can cause things to cramp up. Mid-pregnancy, walking or moving around will help relieve crampy Braxton-Hicks if you’re not in true early labor. If cramps don’t stop with walking, get checked out by your doctor or hospital.
- Do pelvic tilts. Pelvic tilts can help reposition the way baby is laying. It can also relieve pressure on the lower back and pelvis. Get down on all fours and rock your pelvis up and down. Then swing your hips back and forth. You can do this as many times as you need to during the day.
- Sit down and rest. You may just be overdoing things and your body is telling you to rest. If you have been standing or walking for long periods, take a break. Sit or lie down and rest until the cramps subside. Again, if this does not bring relief you should get checked out.