Gallbladder pain during pregnancy

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Pain on Left Side During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is indeed a wonderful feeling and beautiful transition in the life of every woman. But it may make you feel physically distressed and agitated. Few of these discomforts can make you anxious as they may signify that something is wrong with the baby. Occasional abdominal pain is usually one of the most common complains of a pregnant woman during active pregnancy. This abdominal discomfort may be transient or uneventful but at times it may serve as an alarming sign of a serious underlying problem.

Causes of Pain on Left Side during Pregnancy

Surely not all sorts of abdominal discomforts come with a bad news. In fact the majority of the cases of mild abdominal pain are harmless. For example after an orgasm a mild abdominal pain may be felt which is short lived and is nothing to be worried for. Listed below are some common harmless causes of abdominal pain in pregnancy but if your abdominal discomfort persistent and you are unsure of what caused it, you should consult your doctor immediately.

1. Gas and bloating

The main two causes of gas and bloating that presents as abdominal pain in pregnancy are the hormones that affect the digestion process and ultimately increase the pressure exerted on the stomach and intestine by the growing uterus.

2. Constipation

This is very common in pregnancy and is also caused by hormones that decrease the metabolism and digestion speed, ultimately aggravating the pressure exerted on the rectum by the growing uterus.

3. Round ligament pain

An abrupt stabbing sharp pain or a dull long lasting ache that is felt in the lower abdomen or groin can be caused by round ligament. It is caused by the stretching and thickening of the ligaments that support the uterus in order to help with uterine expansion to support growing fetus.

4. Braxton Hick’s contraction

It is caused by tightening of uterus before the completion of 37 weeks and is usually painless and infrequent. It may be something to worry about if the contraction frequency increases to four per hour, if you see any signs of preterm labor or if it becomes frequent.

5. Other causes

Other causes that can lead to abdominal discomfort even if you are not pregnant include, food poisoning, appendicitis, stomach virus, kidney stones, pancreatitis, fibroids, bowel obstruction and gall stones. Gallstones are usually responsible for pancreatitis and gallbladder diseases during pregnancy. Fibroids may also cause abdominal discomfort as they grow during pregnancy under the influence of pregnancy hormones. Bowel obstruction is reported in the third trimester as a result of pressure exerted by the expanding uterus.

Listed below are the more serious causes that may lead to the pain on the left side during pregnancy:

1. Ectopic pregnancy

It occurs when an egg implants anywhere outside of uterus after fertilization (usually in one of the two fallopian tubes). It may result in crampy abdominal pain along with conventional pregnancy symptoms. Doctor’s consultation is immediately required if you are experiencing troubling symptoms like tenderness, vaginal bleeding, pelvic or abdominal pain, pain in shoulders, pain during coughing and bowel movements or pain that aggravates upon physical activity. Ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening.

2. Miscarriage

Loss of pregnancy in the first twenty weeks is referred to as miscarriage in sophisticated medical terms. Initial symptoms are vaginal bleeding/spotting followed by pain in the abdomen. The pain may be cramp like or may be dull aching type in nature that extends to lower back and pelvis.

3. Preterm labor

Rhythmic uterine contractions that dilate the cervix before the period of 37 weeks in an active pregnancy is referred to as preterm labor (or premature labor). Symptoms are usually reported in late second or third trimester and include: an increase in the vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding/spotting, menstrual like cramps, abdominal pain, more than 3-4 contractions in an hour that may be painless or painful, an increased pressure usually felt in the pelvic region and the area that surrounds it with lower back pain.

4. Placental abruption

This is indeed a life threatening event and involves the premature separation of placenta from the uterus which may be partial or complete anytime before childbirth. In most cases, abruption present with heavy bleeding but sometimes there is light bleeding/spotting in the beginning. In case your water breaks, you may see some blood tinge in the amniotic fluid. Other symptoms are uterine tenderness, frequent contractions, back ache and hard uterus (even after contractions). Abdomen is usually tense and tender.

5. Preeclampsia

A disorder mainly caused by the changes in the blood vessels that may affect organs like brain, kidney, liver and placenta. Symptoms include puffy eyes, swelling of face and hands and sudden swelling of ankles and feet. Severe preeclampsia is followed by symptoms like headache, visual disturbances, tenderness or pain in the upper region of abdomen, nausea and vomiting.

6. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Pregnancy increases the susceptibility of pregnant mommy to develop UTIs. Bladder infection symptoms are abdominal and pelvic discomfort, pain, or burning sensation while urinating, pelvic or lower abdominal pain and a frequent desire or urge to urinate even when there’s little urine in the bladder. An untreated infection of bladder may lead to kidney infection and preterm labor. Sign and symptoms when the infection spreads to the kidneys include, escalated fever, chills, shivers, lower back ache, pain in the side right below the ribs, pain in the abdomen, vomiting, nausea and at times blood or pus in the urine.

In this video you may find more causes with different symptoms:

Remedies for Pain on the Left Side During Pregnancy

Listed below are some remedies that you can try to ease the non-serious abdominal discomfort that occurs during pregnancy.

  • Try moving around and exercising gently to help pass the gas that causes the abdominal pain.
  • Shower with warm water and if required, place a warm water bag or bottle wrapped in a towel at the site of ache.
  • When you feel the pain, lie on the other side to minimize the pain.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Dehydration can result into an increase frequency of Braxton Hicks contractions.
  • In case of Braxton Hicks contractions, it is advised to lie down and rest.

Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

Lower Abdominal Pain

Many women experience lower abdominal pain during the early weeks of pregnancy. There are many reasons for this. For some women occasional or sporadic abdominal discomfort during pregnancy similar to menstrual cramps may simply be a sign that your uterus is preparing to carry your baby through the next nine months of pregnancy.

Many women will experience occasional bouts of Lower abdominal pain during pregnancy. While frightening at best abdominal pain during pregnancy is usually a normal and harmless condition. Lower abdominal pain during pregnancy can sometimes suggest a more serious problem however, so it is important you consult with your health care provider if you have any concerns regarding abdominal pain during pregnancy.

Abdominal pain that comes on suddenly, persistent, and severe, and associated with other problems such as nausea, vomiting, vaginal bleeding, or contractions suggests the pain is not due to normal pregnancy changes but some other problem.

Normal Changes in Pregnancy that Cause Abdominal Pain

The Enlarging uterus as it raises out of the pelvis places pressures on the lower back and abdomen and produces pain. The enlarged uterus may also compress the ureter, (the tube between the bladder and the kidney) making it difficult for urine to pass down the ureter causing intermittent severe lower abdominal pain. This pain can mimic the pain associated with passing a kidney stone, or bladder infection.

In addition, the Hormonal changes during pregnancy can decrease lower esophageal sphincter tone (esophageal reflux) causing symptoms of indigestion and dyspepsia.

Pregnancy Health Section

Pregnancy Related Causes of Abdominal Pain

  • Placental abruption — The separation of the placenta from the uterine wall prematurely can cause bleeding and severe lower abdominal pain in pregnancy. Placental abruption not only results in severe abdomen pain, but fetal distress for the unborn child. Delivery is immediately needed to avoid fetal death and serve maternal hemorrhage.

  • Uterine rupture — Uterine rupture can cause abdominal pain in pregnancy. Most uterine ruptures occur in childbirth while having a vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC). The previous cesarean section scar on the uterus opens up and allows the head of the baby to float in the abdomen. Not only is an uterine rupture associated with abdominal pain, it causes fetal distress, and heavy vaginal bleeding leading to shock.

  • Amniotic Fluid Infection — Infection of the amniotic fluid and sac the baby sits in can cause fever, abdominal pain, contractions and labor. It is commonly seen with premature rupture of the membranes.

  • Preterm Labor – Some women experience lower abdominal pain or cramping further along in their pregnancy. This may be a sign of premature labor. Preterm labor is typically characterized by regular abdominal contractions that start dilating and effacing the cervix. You may experience vaginal discharge that is a bloody mucous accompanied by cramping, or low back pain. Be sure you contact your doctor immediately to rule out premature labor. In many cases early labor can be stopped effectively allowing mothers to carry their baby to term.
  • Non-Pregnancy Related Causes of Lower Abdominal Pain

    • Acute appendicitis — Appendicitis is the most common cause of right quadrant, lower abdominal pain that requires surgery during pregnancy. The most symptom of appendicitis, is low grade fever and right lower quadrant pain.

  • Gallbladder disease —Pregnancy does increase the risk of developing gallstones. When the gallstones interfere with the gallbladder function the result is gallbladder disease. The symptoms of a poorly functioning gallbladder is a deep and gnawing pain that is intermittently sharp and severe. The abdominal pain is located in the right upper quadrant and may come and go.

  • Bowel obstruction — As the uterus increases in size during pregnancy the chance of bowel obstruction also increases. Previous scar tissue (adhesions) are the most common reason for bowel obstruction in pregnancy. Bowel obstruction will cause crampy abdominal pain with vomiting. Previous surgeries are the leading cause of adhesions that result in bowel obstructions.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease — The abdomen pain associated with inflammatory bowel disease is in the lower quadrants and usually associated with loose, bloody, mucous stool.

  • Pancreatitis — Rarely an inflamed pancreas can cause persistent upper abdominal pain. This pain typically radiates straight through to the back.

  • Perforated ulcer —Despite peptic ulcer disease getting better in pregnancy, sometimes a peptic ulcer will perforate. The abdomen pain will evolve over the first few hours after perforation. The pain will become very severe.

  • Nephrolithiasis — Kidney stones usually present in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The pain is in the flank and then travels to the lower abdomen. Blood is also present in the urine in most cases. Usually a kidney infection is associated with the stones.

  • Trauma — Motor vehicle accidents are the cause of two-thirds of trauma that causes abdominal pain in pregnancy. The pain can be associated with either blunt or penetrating trauma.

  • Sickle cell crisis — The vasomotor crisis seen with sickle cell disease can causes severe abdominal pain. The pain is difficult to distinguish from appendicitis or gallbladder disease.

  • Pneumonia — The lower lobe pneumonias commonly cause abdominal pain syndromes, specifically the right side. Abdominal pain can be the sole symptom in pregnancy with a lower lobe pneumonia.

  • Gastroenteritis — Severe abdominal pain results from maternal gastroenteritis and inflammation of the abdominal lymph nodes (mesenteric adenitis).

  • Thrombosis — Blood clots in the pelvic veins, liver and abdominal cavity (mesenteric veins) can cause poorly localized abdominal pain.
  • The good news is most women will experience mild abdominal discomfort throughout their pregnancy that occasionally occurs from the uterus stretching, from gas or even from constipation.

    Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

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    If you are experiencing abdominal pain during pregnancy, it may not be a reason for panic. In many cases, the cause of the abdominal pain may be nothing more serious than gas, heartburn, constipation, or the normal growth of your baby. If the pain is severe, however, you should call your doctor immediately.

    Causes of Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

    Abdominal pain can happen at any time during pregnancy, and can be caused by any of a number of things, some of which are more serious than others.

    Implantation: Implantation occurs very early in pregnancy, when the embryo is attaching itself to the uterine lining. This adhesion is necessary as it enables the fetus to take nutrients and oxygen from the mother, but it occasionally causes a side effect known as implantation cramping. While this cramping may be unpleasant, it is nothing more than an early sign of pregnancy. Occasionally the cramping is associated with some vaginal spotting, but this is light and goes away quickly.

    Stretching of Ligaments: When your round ligament stretches, it can cause major pains in your abdomen. The round ligament is one of a number of ligaments that support your uterus, and when you move suddenly, this ligament tightens, causing sudden, sharp abdominal pain. Round ligament pain is a normal part of pregnancy. It most commonly occurs after 18 weeks, when the weight of your expanding uterus begins to pull on those ligaments.

    False Labor: During the last weeks of pregnancy, many women begin to have contractions and think they are in labor. Although false labor does not usually cause severe pain, some women have reported having abdominal pains with false labor. False labor pains are also known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, and they are quite common.

    True Labor: If you are experiencing cramping and abdominal pain near the end of your pregnancy, it may be a sign that labor is about to begin. The difference between “false” labor and true labor is cervical change. When labor starts, it can cause strong cramps that feel much like menstrual cramps. If you experience this kind of abdominal pain during pregnancy, call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.

    Cramping: Cramping can occur throughout your pregnancy, and is usually mild and self-limiting. In the beginning, your uterus is growing and stretching, so cramps are quite common. Later in pregnancy, however, they can be a sign of labor (or they may merely be associated with Braxton-Hicks contractions). After you deliver, you will also experience cramping. This cramping occurs because your uterus is clamping down to stop the bleeding. If you decide to breastfeed, this too can cause uterine cramping.

    Ordinary Non-Pregnancy-Related Abdominal Pain

    Pregnancy can be frightening, especially if it is your first time. It is easy to interpret everything your body does as related in some way to the baby growing inside you—and easy to become needlessly worried. It is important to remember, however, that not every ache, pain, or moment of discomfort you experience is related to your pregnancy. Abdominal pain during pregnancy is not necessarily abdominal pain caused by pregnancy.

    Treating Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

    As with most pains during pregnancy, the cause of abdominal pain should be determined by your doctor. Remember, pregnant women can also suffer appendicitis or gallbladder attacks! If the pain is due to something normal such as gas, bloating, constipation, or the growth of your baby, there may not be too much your doctor can do for you. Try the following to lessen abdominal pain that is due to minor problems:

    • Avoid quick movements, like turning your waist sharply.
    • Bend toward the pain.
    • Drink more fluids.
    • Walk around to relieve gas. This also usually helps relieve bloating.

    If your abdominal pains are being caused by something more serious, such as a miscarriage, you will need prompt medical attention. If they are being caused by labor, on the other hand, the reason for your pain will be apparent soon enough!

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