Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

image001 While it’s normal for pregnant women to have aches and pains, it can be concerning when the pain emanates from the belly. A lot of women are worried about the baby during such incidences, but in most cases, there is nothing to worry about. If you begin to feel cramps with the abdomen, you don’t need to panic. Sometimes, this could not be so subtle a way of the body reminding you to relax or as a result of digestive problems. Sometimes, cramping could be a sign of a more dire condition and you may require medical attention.

Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy—Is It Normal?

Sometimes, abdominal pain during pregnancy is harmless. However, you should not rule out that it could also be related to a serious problem. If you experience severe pain or persistent abdominal pains while pregnant, it’s important to seek medical attention.

While we will highlight some of the common contributing factors to abdominal pain, you must not diagnose yourself. If your pain is accompanied by spotting or bleeding, chills, fever, faintness, vaginal discharge, nausea, vomiting and/or discomfort when urinating, we recommend that you call your doctor. Also, if the pain lasts long (more than a few minutes), seek medical attention.

What Causes Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy?

1. Common Causes

Many cases of abdominal pain are harmless. A good example is while having an orgasm or right after. Usually, you will feel a mild pain that is short-lived. Other causes of harmless abdominal pain include:

Common Causes


Gas and bloating

Pregnant women tend to suffer from bloating and gas pain a lot. This is because the stomach and intestines are under much pressure from the growing uterus. It could also be due to hormonal reasons as certain hormones slowing down digestive process.


Constipation is also common during pregnancy and responsible for abdominal pain. This is also attributed to the hormones that slow down your digestive system when pregnant. The slow digestive process and growing uterus all put pressure on your rectum leading to abdominal pain.

Round ligament paisxn

Sometimes women experience a sharp pain or long dull ache on one or both sides of the abdomen. This pain is normally experienced in the groin or lower abdomen area and is often felt during the second trimester. The pain occurs when the ligaments supporting the uterus stretch and enlarge to support the growing uterus. This pain is known as the round ligament pain and it’s normally experienced with sudden movements such as when you cough or get up from a chair.

Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions occur after mid pregnancy but before the 37th week. This is when the uterus begins to tighten and contractions begin to be felt. If these contractions feature lower back pain or become frequent like four or more within an hour, you may call your doctor. You should also seek medical attention if the contractions occur at regular intervals and are accompanied by signs of premature labor.

2. Serious Conditions

Some of the serious conditions that may contribute to abdominal pain during pregnancy include:

Serious Conditions


Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is characterized by implantation of the fertilized egg outside the uterus walls. If not diagnosed and treated early, an ectopic pregnancy could be life threatening. Signs of an ectopic pregnancy include spotting/bleeding, pain during bowel movements, pain with physical activity and shoulder pain. If you begin bleeding heavily or experience a racing heartbeat, faintness and other signs of shock, call 911.


Your abdominal pains may be as a result of a miscarriage. Miscarriages often occur within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and are accompanied by signs such as spotting or bleeding and abdominal pains which last from a few hours to days. The bleeding doesn’t have to be heavy and in some cases it is light. However, you might experience cramping, lower back pain or pressure in the pelvic area.

Preterm labor

Preterm labor or premature labor is characterized by contractions, and a dilated cervix. This occurs in the second or third trimester. If you notice a change in the consistency of your vaginal discharge, spotting, increased discharge, menstrual-like cramps, increased contractions, lower back pain and increased pressure within the pelvis, you need to call your doctor immediately.

Placental abruption

Placental abruption occurs when your placenta is separated from the uterus before giving birth. This could be either partial or complete separation. This condition comes with various symptoms. Sometimes there may not be much bleeding, but in other cases, there is abrupt bleeding or body fluid especially if your water breaks. The uterine may be tender at touch and you might also suffer from frequent contractions, consistent cramps, contractions and back pin. You could also notice a decrease in your baby’s movements. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate attention.


Preeclampsia is quite complex and this disorder causes changes in various body organs including your brain, kidneys, livers, placenta and blood vessels as well. Preeclampsia is diagnosed in women with protein in their urine and high blood pressure after 20 weeks. Some preeclampsia symptoms include severe headaches, pain, upper abdomen tenderness, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and others.

Urinary tract infections

Pregnant women are more susceptible to UTI. This bladder infection comes with symptoms such as pain and burning sensations when urinating, pain in the lower abdomen, frequent urination, foul smelling, bloody or cloudy urine. If you experience chills, lower back pain and fever, the UTI may have spread to the kidneys. Whatever the case, always seek medical attention when you have any UTI symptoms.


Other conditions that may cause abdominal pain include food poisoning, appendicitis, hepatitis, fibroids, kidney stones, gallbladder disease, bowel obstruction and a stomach virus.

How to Deal With Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

You can ease abdominal pain while pregnant by:

  • Relaxing
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Sitting for a while
  • Placing a hot water bottle on the painful site
  • Lying on the opposite direction of the painful area with your feet up
  • Having slow and gentle sex
  • Having a back massage

Here is a video to tell you how to deal with abdominal pain caused by round ligament pain during pregnancy:

When to See a Doctor

If the abdominal pain is more than you can comfortably deal with, you might want to pay more attention to it. Try and manage the pain by resting or lying and generally look out for pain accompanied by the harmful symptoms mentioned above. If you experience severe pain, do not ignore it.

In some cases, abdominal pain may not be related to your pregnancy. As a result of other conditions as mentioned above, pregnancy could simply trigger the pains of a condition you already had. It’s important to pay attention to how you feel and always consult with your doctor.

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