Cramping in Early Pregnancy

Pregnant women can experience some light cramping in the early stages of pregnancy. This is often similar to the pain experienced during your period when the uterus contracts and causes a dragging, heavy feeling in the pelvis. Some of this pain may be on one side of the body more than the other as well. Cramps during pregnancy are often experienced more often when standing for long periods of time or when you begin to tire at the end of the day. If you laugh, sneeze or perform other activities that put pressure on the abdomen can make this cramping worse. While in most of the cases, cramping in early pregnancy is no cause for concern, there are situations in which you should seek immediate medical help.

Normal Cramping in Early Pregnancy

1. Implantation Cramping

Some women notice cramping in the 8-10 days following ovulation when implantation occurs. Many women will experience this cramping and find out they are pregnant a short time later. Implantation cramping during early pregnancy is often accompanied by implantation spotting.

2. Stretching Uterus

The uterus will grow and change quite rapidly to accommodate the implanted egg as it starts to develop. This can lead to cramping as your growing uterus starts to have an effect on nearby muscles. Sexual intercourse during your first trimester can also lead to this type of cramping.

3. Bloating and Gas

Gas and bloating can cause cramping or discomfort, which is a common problem early in pregnancy. You may also feel cramping if you are constipated. These are side effect of your body adjusting to the changes associated with pregnancy.

The following video provides additional information about cramping during early pregnancy:

Abnormal Cramping in Early Pregnancy

Light cramping during pregnancy is normal, but if cramping is severe or comes with heavy bleeding you should talk to your doctor right away.

1. Miscarriage

You have the highest risk of miscarriage during the first trimester. If you begin to pass blood clots or bright red blood while cramping it could be a sign that you have miscarried. If you begin to experience severe cramping or heavy bleeding you should contact your doctor or visit the emergency room right away.

2. Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic or tubal pregnancies are caused when the fertilized egg implants in your fallopian tube instead of your uterus. This is a serious health risk that will need to be addressed as quickly as possible. You can identify an ectopic pregnancy by the bleeding, localized pain and tenderness around the fallopian tubes. Call your doctor immediately if you think you have ectopic pregnancy so you can get help.

How to Relieve Cramping in Early Pregnancy

Getting proper nutrition and hydration can help to relax the muscles in your abdomen and prevent cramping. You may also try low impact stretching to help relieve cramping during the first trimester of pregnancy. It is also important to get plenty of rest so relax your body to relieve cramps. In general, most healthy practices recommended during pregnancy can relieve cramping.

When to See a Doctor

You should keep track of any time when you are not feeling well during your pregnancy and talk to your doctor or midwife about it. They will determine if your aches and pains are a natural part of your pregnancy. You should not wait to get help if your pain does not fade after a few minutes or resting. You should also get medical assistance if you feel cramping along with:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Tenderness and pain
  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
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