Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy
21.02.2017 Andrew Johns 1 Popular
Abdominal Pain in Pregnancy
Is it possible to have abdominal pain during pregnancy? It actually is possible and happens quite often. Most often abdominal pain is caused by physiological changes, and though it can cause a slight discomfort to a future mom, it’s quite normal. Some pains can be even pleasurable for some moms. So what actually causes those pains?
Stomach Pains in Early Pregnancy
Pains in lower abdomen during pregnancy can be divided into two groups according the reasons of their occurrence: obstetric and non-obstetric.
Non-obstetric pains include those provoked by gastrointestinal tract’s problems, stretching ligaments, surgical diseases (appendicitis) or overexertion of ABS muscles. Obstetric pains are those which involve the threat of termination of pregnancy, early placenta detachment, or an ectopic pregnancy.
In any case, only a professional can determine the pain’s nature and reason. However, you can be absolutely sure that everything is perfectly normal, if you have the following signs in early pregnancy:
However, be careful about changes that undergo in your body during first months of pregnancy. Pain in the abdomen might be caused by a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage in people).
Causes of Pain in Late Pregnancy
In late pregnancy, pains in the abdomen aren’t always caused by a threat of a miscarriage or any pathology. There can be several reasons.
The first reason is the wrong diet or schedule of meals, which causes cramp of the digestive system accompanied by pain. The same symptoms are proper for disbacteriosis and colitis. Thus, the intestines copes badly with poorly treated food, stale foods, abundant meals, which causes bloating. When the digestive process ends, such a pain goes away, but it tends to return. In such a case, you need to carefully review your diet and meal times.
Don’t forget, that close to the birth, the growing uterus squeezes the intestines. Moreover, hormonal changes put the double burden on the intestines. During this period, the motility and peristalsis are reduced. Constipation is also quite frequent, and it causes pulling pain in the lower abdomen. Recall that in order to prevent constipation you should consume more products containing raw fiber, drink enough water and walk outdoors.
The second reason is ligaments’ stretching. Ligaments support the uterus. The increasing uterus causes ligaments’ stretching. And in late pregnancy, this often causes gentle spasms in the lower abdomen, or painful sensations on one or both sides of the belly. Such a pain is more pronounced when you change positions, laugh, sneeze. It is sharp, but goes away quickly. In addition, such symptoms can be accompanied by stretch marks’ appearance on the abdomen.
The third reason of abdominal pain in pregnancy is excessive load on your ABS. Such painful sensations often occur during or after physical exercise. To avoid it, simply take a rest and relax.
The fourth cause is intestinal obstruction, appendicitis or pancreatitis. Despite the fact that such reasons are quite rare, if you have such symptoms as growing stronger pain, fever, nausea and dizziness, be sure to call an ambulance. You might need a surgery.
The fifth cause are gynaecological problems testifying of improper pregnancy course and health problems.
The sixth reason is the threat of miscarriage. Pain in the lumbar area often feels like contractions and doesn’t go away without drugs intake. If it's a premature termination of pregnancy, pain will be accompanied by vaginal discharge varying both in color (from light-brown to bright red) and in abundance. In such a case, immediately consult your doctor, this might be essential to save the baby.
The seventh reason is the premature detachment of the placenta that may occur either in late pregnancy or immediately before the birth. This condition can be triggered by physical overexertion, injury of the abdominal area, specific diseases (hypertension, toxemia, etc.). Severe pain in the lower abdomen accompanied by uterine bleeding is explained by the fact the placenta detachment triggers vessels’ rupture. Such a condition is dangerous for both the baby and the woman, so immediately call an ambulance. Most likely an emergency delivery will be required.
Acute Pain in Pelvic Area
The uterus is held between the hipbones with connective-tissue ligaments. During pregnancy the uterus increases its weight causing the ligaments to stretch, which creates abdominal pain. Usually that kind of pain can be felt in the lower abdomen near the pelvis.
Usually this pain happens when a woman changes her body position (for example, turning too quickly), lifts a heavy weight or even sneezes or coughs. All that causes a sharp but short painful sensation that wears off on its own.
This pain can happen on any stage of the pregnancy. Sometimes they can happen less often or even disappear towards the end of the pregnancy. This abdominal pain is harmless for a future mom and her baby and doesn’t need to be treated.
Dragging Pain in Lower Abdomen
The hormones produced during pregnancy affect the gastrointestinal tract so that food travels more slowly. That causes overdistension in some parts of intestinal tract and constipation. A woman can feel a dull aching pain in the sides of the lower abdomen (often in the left side) and have gas.
The discomfort disappears as soon as the food is digested but can happen again if a woman doesn’t stick to a healthy diet. To avoid constipation, one needs to drink more water, eat fermented dairy products and foods rich in fiber (raw vegetables, fruits, whole grain bread). A good way to combat constipation and abdominal pain is to have some moderate physical exercise.
During the pregnancy the body produces a special hormone called relaxin. That hormone influences the cartilage, ligaments, and bones of pelvic floor. This hormone softens the ligaments of the hipbones, which allows them to stretch to make it easier for the baby to travel through the pelvic ring during the delivery.
More often it’s the symphysis pubis joint that moves and causes pain in the lower abdomen. The pain can vary from minor sensation to a more intensive one. It can be triggered by walking, changing your body position, sitting on a firm surface, walking up the stairs or lifting your legs while lying down.
A bandage can help reduce the pain. Another way of fighting this type of pain is a big soft fit ball that can be used instead of a chair. A visit to an osteopath can also be of help.
Starting in the 2nd trimester, a pregnant woman might experience an abdominal tightening, a condition when the uterus feels as hard as a stone. It can last from a few seconds to up to couple of minutes and happen up to 10 times per day. Those are practice contractions (Braxton Hicks contractions). This type of contraction is not too painful, but still can cause a discomfort and scare a future mom. It’s quite normal to have Braxton Hicks contractions: this is the way your body is preparing to the baby birth.
Baby Kicks Pain
In the second part of the pregnancy baby grows very fast. It can't move freely in the uterus anymore. The baby's movements are less frequent but more intense and powerful. Those baby kicks can cause discomfort or even pain in the hypochondriac quadrant or lower abdomen (especially if the bladder is full). As unpleasant as they are these pains are natural and harmless.
When you experience painful baby kicks try to change your body position: bend forwards, get up, lie down on your side. Relax and take a couple of deep breaths, rub your belly and talk to the baby asking him to relax. Sometimes it's all what it needs.
How to Relieve Pain?
When you feel pain, sit down, pull legs forward and relax. If you rest, the pain will quickly go away.
You can also do the following:
When to See a Doctor?
Although light pain in the abdomen is normal for pregnant women, severe pain or cramps could testify of a serious problem. Severe pain can be caused by intestinal infections, food poisoning, urinary tract infection, appendicitis, kidney infection, kidney stones, gall bladder diseases or pregnancy complications (such as pre-eclampsia). If you have severe and/or persistent pain, consult your doctor immediately!
The same should be done if you have the following symptoms:
- Strong intestinal colic;
- Vaginal bleeding/spotting;
- Fever or chills;
- Dizziness and weakness.
Lower abdominal pain running after pregnancy
Section 2 – Symptoms
Abdominal pain in later pregnancy and after childbirth
The woman is experiencing abdominal pain after 22 weeks of pregnancy.
The woman is experiencing abdominal pain during the first 6 weeks after childbirth.
Make a Rapid evaluation of the general condition of the woman including vital signs (pulse, blood pressure, respiration, temperature).
If Shock is suspected, immediately begin treatment. Even if signs of shock are not present, keep shock in mind as you evaluate the woman further because her status may worsen rapidly. If Shock develops, it is important to begin treatment immediately.
Note: Appendicitis should be suspected in any woman having abdominal pain. Appendicitis can be confused with other more common problems in pregnancy which cause abdominal pain. If Appendicitis occurs in late pregnancy, the infection may be walled off by the gravid uterus. The size of the uterus rapidly decreases after delivery, allowing the infection to spill into the peritoneal cavity. In these cases, appendicitis presents as generalized peritonitis.
Diagnosis of abdominal pain in later pregnancy and after childbirth
Presenting Symptom and Other Symptoms and Signs Typically Present
Symptoms and Signs Sometimes Present
• Blood-stained mucus discharge (show) or watery discharge before 37 weeks
• Cervical dilatation and effacement
• Light a vaginal bleeding
A Light bleeding: takes longer than 5 minutes for a clean pad or cloth to be soaked.
• Blood-stained mucus discharge (show) or watery discharge at or after 37
• Cervical dilatation and effacement
• Light vaginal bleeding
• Intermittent or constant abdominal pain
• Bleeding after 22 weeks gestation (may be retained in the uterus)
• Decreased/absent fetal movements
• Fetal distress or absent fetal heart sounds
• Severe abdominal pain (may decrease after rupture)
• Bleeding (intra-abdominal and/or vaginal)
• Abdominal distension/ free fluid
• Abnormal uterine contour
• Easily palpable fetal parts
• Absent fetal movements and fetal heart sounds
• Rapid maternal pulse
• Foul-smelling watery vaginal discharge after 22 weeks gestation
• History of loss of fluid
• Rapid fetal heart rate
• Light vaginal bleeding
• Increased frequency and urgency of urination
Upper Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo implants itself outside the uterine cavity. In most cases of ectopic pregnancy, the implantation occurs inside the fallopian tubes. However, it can also occur in cervix, ovaries or abdominal area. If unnoticed, there could be bleeding and other complications due to the rupturing of the area of ectopic pregnancy. This condition poses a threat to the life of the woman and calls for immediate medical intervention.
Many women miscarry in the first few months of the pregnancy. If a woman feels sharp pain in her abdomen followed by weakness and passing of blood, consult a doctor immediately.
One of the key causes of this pain is preeclampsia which occurs during the second or third trimester. It takes place when the pregnant woman is suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure along with the passage of significant traces of protein in the urine. This disorder leads to changes in the blood vessels, due to which certain organs of the body including the brain, kidney and liver can get affected. It may also adversely impact the placenta.
HELLP syndrome is a disorder which usually occurs during the last three months of pregnancy. The full form of HELLP syndrome is ‘Hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count’. A woman is most likely to experience severe pain and tenderness on the upper right side of the abdomen. HELLP syndrome can lead to the development of preeclampsia, because the former can increase blood pressure levels and protein in the urine. Pregnant women may also suffer from blood clots as well as anemia due to HELLP syndrome.
Sometimes, a woman may feel contractions in the second and third trimester of pregnancy. These are not ‘near birth’ contractions, and are the result of tightening of the uterine muscles for a very short duration. They usually disappear in some time; but if they persist, it is advisable to consult your doctor.
If the cervix of a pregnant woman gets dilated or she starts to have contractions before completing 37 weeks, one of the symptoms will be severe pain in the upper part of abdomen. This symptom will be an indication of a preterm labor and will require immediate medical attention.
Usually, this condition gives rise to pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen and pelvic area, but if the infection spreads towards the kidneys, one can experience pain and discomfort in the upper abdomen as well.
The gallbladder is a small organ which stores bile (a digestive juice which aids in breaking down fats) in the body secreted by liver. Therefore, it plays an important role in the digestion of fat. However, during pregnancy, this organ does not work so effectively, and the bile can solidify to form gallstones or cholelithiasis.
A woman may also feel acute pain in the upper side of her stomach during pregnancy because of inflamed appendix caused by the enlargement of uterus. Unfortunately, it is difficult to detect appendix problems during pregnancy. It can be fatal if not treated in time. Hence, if you feel any kind of pain in your stomach, it is better to bring it to your doctor’s attention right away.
When the fetus grows in size, the ribs also increase, so as to help the baby to fit in the mother’s tummy. It is natural for the mother to experience pain in that area due to this bodily change.
Excessive gas and bloating due to improper or slow digestion during pregnancy can cause such a pain. The extra pressure exerted by the uterus on stomach and intestines is also one of the causes of pain in the upper part of the stomach.
A pregnant woman’s digestive tract takes more time to process food which results in constipation leading to pain in the abdomen.
This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
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