Causes of Cramping During Early Pregnancy and Should You be Worried?
I am not a medical professional. This article does not substitute for medical attention!
Cramping during pregnancy can occur for a number of reasons, but first-time mothers in particular are often frightened of what it means when those first pains begin early on in pregnancy. If you’re concerned about cramping, this article should help you to determine if you should be worried about what the cramps mean. You should always be encouraged to call your doctor or midwife with any questions that you may have about your pregnancy, but in the meantime, continue reading for more information on the common causes of cramping during pregnancy.
Please note that if you are experiencing cramping combined with vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, you should seek medical attention right away!
Cramping During Pregnancy Has Many Causes
Cramping during pregnancy may not be something to worry about, but there are potentially dangerous causes of cramping during pregnancy (many of which are caused by things unrelated to pregnancy). Knowing the causes of cramping can help you to be empowered to talk to your doctor about what’s going on with your body, so make yourself aware of the different causes of cramping. The earlier in your pregnancy you arm yourself with information, the less likely you are to panic when discomfort strikes later on in pregnancy. Be prepared, and you’ll feel much calmer and safer in the long run.
This article lists possible causes of cramping during pregnancy, beginning with issues which are not directly related to pregnancy (since some of these may be the most serious that you’ll deal with). If you feel that you’re having a medical emergency, call your doctor or midwife immediately, or get yourself to the nearest emergency room. Cramping can be a sign of something dangerous.
If you experienced cramping during pregnancy, did you have a healthy child?
Implantation occurs so early in pregnancy that you won’t yet know that you’re pregnant. The body doesn’t begin producing the pregnancy hormone until after implantation occurs, and therefore a pregnancy test won’t give a positive result (until there is sufficient hCG in your urine to measure).
Some women experience minor cramping at the time of implantation, and many will also experience some minor bleeding. This is nothing to be concerned about. After implantation occurs, you should be able to get a positive pregnancy test within three to five days, depending on the amount of hCG in your urine and the strength of the test.
This is the very earliest point in pregnancy.
Avoid taking painkillers during your pregnancy. Most of them are in one way or another dangerous to yourself and your unborn child. It’s best that you attempt to find holistic healing methods or something homeopathic to help you with the pain that you’re experiencing. In particular, avoid the following:
- NSAIDs (including Ibuprofen and Naproxin).
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be safe for use during pregnancy according to doctors and pharmacists, but when taking in large amounts it is damaging to the liver. What damages your liver also damages your baby’s liver, and you may wish to be careful about all pain killers as a result.
Round Ligament Pain — Nothing to Be Concerned About
During pregnancy, your ligaments begin to loosen up in order to allow for the expansion of your hips and pelvis (in order to accommodate and birth the baby). The hormones which cause this loosening affect all of the ligaments in your body. You may experience joint pain as a result of this, but it will also cause some pain in the abdominal area. Ligaments in your abdomen support the muscles and also help to support your growing infant.
These pains feel very similar to period pains, and therefore many women think of them as “cramps.” In fact, it’s just your body settling. Because these pains can be quite painful, they are concerning in particular to first-time mothers who are under-educated about the causes of such pains.
Ligament pains are nothing to be worried about, even if they are quite painful. They will pass in time. Most women experience these pains very early in pregnancy and then again between weeks 16 and 20 (and sometimes beyond). Try not to worry: This is all quite normal. In fact, if you’re experiencing pains that feel like period pains, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. The pain associated with labor and miscarriage is quite different than the pain of having a period and you’ll feel the difference.
Braxton Hicks Contractions — Practice for Labor
Later in pregnancy (starting around 16 weeks), you may begin to feel some cramping in your abdomen along with a tightening sensation. This type of cramping is referred to as Braxton Hicks contractions, and these contractions prepare your body and the baby for the coming labor and birth.
These will feel different than the period-like pains that you’ll feel if you’re having round ligament pain, and you will distinctly notice that your abdomen becomes hard. Sometimes these contractions are painful and sometimes they aren’t, but don’t allow anyone to tell you that “practice contractions” shouldn’t be painful for you. Every woman’s body is different, and if they hurt, they hurt. Once again, you’ll know if you’re in labor or having a miscarriage. The pain from Braxton Hicks contractions is general minimal.
Concerning Cramps During Pregnancy
The following type of cramping may be concerning for pregnant women, and you should consider these with some caution. If you believe that you may be experiencing one of these types of cramping, please contact your doctor or midwife immediately and let them know what’s going on.
Most of all, trust your instincts while you’re pregnant. Nothing beats maternal instinct. If something hurts and alarm bells are going off in your mind, contact a doctor or midwife.
Bladder Pain Indicates Urinary Tract, Bladder, or Kidney Infection
Urinary Tract and Bladder Infections may be more common in pregnancy than at other times in a woman’s life due to the changes in hormones and the frequent need to urinate. They can be prevented by following some simple steps, but women should be aware that the changes in hormones may result in a shifting pH balance in the urinary tract, leading to infection. Cramping in the lower abdomen, particularly when urinating, may be caused by a urinary tract infection.
These aren’t necessary anything to worry too much about. Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic that will help you to recover from the infection. Do note that these antibiotics may cause yeast infections, so you should make sure that you are prepared for this possibility. Eating yogurt is believed to ward off yeast infection, so this is certainly an option.
This pain doesn’t feel like period pains, so you’ll recognize the difference. It’s a painful tightening in the lower abdomen, where your bladder is. If you feel this type of pain, you should talk to your doctor right away to get the necessary medication. Bladder infections and UTIs can cause problems in pregnancy, including the possibility of miscarriage.
Severe Cramping During Pregnancy is Never Good
Severe cramping during pregnancy — such that you have trouble catching your breath — is never a good sign. If you’re experiencing unusual cramping (that which doesn’t feel familiar, like period pains), call your doctor right away! This type of cramping can indicate a problem, including miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. You’ll need to have an ultrasound to reveal the condition of your pregnancy and determine whether or not your pregnancy remains viable (whether the fetus is still living, or exists at all). Call your doctor for advice. She’ll probably recommend that you take a trip to the hospital.
If you are experiencing cramping accompanied with bleeding during pregnancy, visit the hospital’s ER right away! The combination of bleeding and cramping often indicates miscarriage is already occurring, and you will need medical confirmation and, if you choose, a D&C (dilation & curettage.)
Rib Pain During Pregnancy
Rib pain during pregnancy usually occurs during the third trimester, although some women do experience it sooner. By this point, you have probably suffered your fair share of back aches, Round ligament pain, and hip pain. Unfortunately, you may now want to add ‘sore ribs’ to your list of pregnancy ailments.
As your baby grows, the top of your uterus will reach almost as high as your breastbone, and this will put pressure on your rib cage. As well as this, your baby has grown bigger and is now running out of space, so is probably kicking and elbowing you while she tries to find a comfortable position.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic cure for this discomfort, although there are a few things you can try for temporary relief:
- Avoid tight clothing – tight, restrictive clothing will simply add to the pressure on your rib cage. Opt for loose fitting clothes to give yourself room to breathe.
- Buy a new bra – during pregnancy, your rib cage expands to make room for your growing uterus. As well as this, the average woman has up to 1lb (0.4kg) extra breast fat by the end of the pregnancy. Wearing properly fitting bras can help to relieve some of the pressure on your rib cage. To save money, choose nursing bras that will be useful after the birth, too.
- Lean back – rib pain usually worsens when you lean forward, so try to avoid this. Try to maintain good posture when sitting and standing, or lean back slightly if this helps to relieve the pain.
- Hog the pillows – use pillows to prop yourself up in the night, having a pillow under your bump can take some of the strain off your bones and muscles and may reduce rib pain.
- Move around – try to avoid sitting or standing in the same position for too long. Try to move around and take regular short walks.
- Exercise – light exercise such as swimming and yoga are great for relieving rib pain.
- Warm water – relaxing in a warm bath, or even taking a quick warm shower, may help to provide short term relief from sore ribs.
If you are in a lot of pain, speak to your healthcare provider about pain medication. There are some medications that are safe to take during pregnancy, but you should always seek medical advice first.
Shortly after week 36, you should find that you experience some relief as the baby, and your uterus, drop slightly in preparation for the birth. All of a sudden you should find that your rib pain has gone, and you are breathing easier.
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.
I’m having very bad rib pain, it seems to be constant and is very uncomfortable to sleep as it still hurts. Hopefully my baby will drop soon as I’m now 33 weeks
My son was born with Cleft Lip & Palate I also had my heart set on breastfeeding we didn’t get the diagnosis until my son was born so we was unprepared and uneducated with his condition I was only 17 at the time as well and didn’t even know what was wrong with my baby. He was transferred to a bigger hospital that had NICU and had a feeding tube then they started teaching him how to eat with a special bottle called the haberman feeder because I couldn’t breastfeed I pumped for him but unfortunately I dried up too soon cuz I didn’t keep up with it I was suffering from headaches from the spinal injection they gave me I delivered via repeat c-section. We struggled a lot with his weight when he was itty bity because the cleft palate and having surgeries he would be too sore to eat or not feeling well. His first lip repair was at 4 months and first palate repair was at 9 months. He is now a 6 almost 7 year old and is happy and healthy little boy he’s a great kid too! I hope this helps a little with my summarized experience. Good luck!
I’ve had terrible rib pain since month 5, especially if I sit for too long. The only thing that helps is lying on my right side (the baby is on my left).
@ Kristen, I was unable to breastfeed my first but successfully pumped for 8 months. Obviously not the closeness of breastfeeding your baby but at least she got all the benefits of beast milk nutrition. Good luck!
I’m 34 weeks with my first. We received a diagnosis of cleft lip and palate at the 20 week sonogram. I had my heart set on breastfeeding him, but I’m being told that it’s out of the question. Does anyone have ANY info or advice about this?? It’d be greatly appreciated
I have had awful rib pain. My only relief has been a warm bath. My baby boy “dropped” quite early and it did ease off slightly, however he does have a little ways to go.
I’d recommend baths or swimming to easy any pains, may only be a temporary relief but it does work and give you a break.
Chest Pain and Tightness During Pregnancy
What is Chest Pain During Pregnancy?
Chest pain during pregnancy is a normal experience during this time because of excessive changes in hormones, blood flow and weight and size of uterus and fetus.
Causes of Pain in Chest During Pregnancy
Some normal and important causes of chest pain during pregnancy are as follows:-
- Heartburn – During pregnancy there is a surge of excessive progesterone hormones that helps relaxation of sphincter allowing acid in stomach to come out. Eating certain food items, gas and indigestion results in Heartburn. Antacids have capacity to interfere in iron absorption of body and therefore are not advisable along with iron supplements.
- Weight of baby – Changes in weight of growing baby puts excessive pressure on diaphragm as well as ribs causing chest pain during pregnancy third trimester.
- Indigestion – Avoiding food items that can cause acidity and gas is prudent as they often result in indigestion and chest pain
- Stress – Anxiousness causes muscles to become tensed and lead to pain in chest
- Breasts – Chest pain during pregnancy first trimester is result of enlarged breasts. This happens because of an increase in blood flow, as it is nature’s way to prepare for upcoming breastfeeding. It leads to pain in chest and breathlessness
- Asthma – If a patient has been suffering from asthma previously, and then it may result in obscuring normal activities as breathing becomes more difficult. Guidance of a doctor is necessary at such times
- Extended rib cage – Chest tightness during pregnancy is also because of widening ribcage. With an increase in size the baby starts putting excessive pressure on diaphragm, ribs and muscles resulting in breathlessness and pain
- Cold, cough – A sore throat can easily result in moderate pain in chest area
- Headache – Due to an increase in blood stream as well as hormones in body it is normal to feel headache and chest pain during early pregnancy.
There are some more serious causes of pain in chest area are as follows:-
- Deep Vein Thrombosis – This medical condition occurs when blood clot happens in veins related to pelvis or legs. While walking or standing, the legs will be warmer with a feeling of heaviness. Swelling is also a part of this condition resulting in extreme pain. Deep Vein Thrombosis becomes a cause of concern if a pregnant women is more than thirty five year old, smokes or is carrying multiple babies
- Coronary heart disease – An increase in plaque contents narrows the arteries thus restricting flow of blood. This condition results in chest pain during pregnancy left side and must be addressed by a doctor as soon as possible
- Heart attack – Main symptoms of heart attack are severe pain in chest along with sweating, breathlessness and numbness.
- Congenital heart disease – Pain in chest is prominent during this medical condition
Managing Chest Pain in Pregnancy
Some tips to manage and control pain in chest are as follows:-
- It is desirable to drink plenty of water and eat at regular interval to avoid upper back and chest pain during pregnancy
- Rest is necessary as it relieves pain in areas like legs, chest and back
- It is sensible to avoid usage of caffeine and smoking to prevent chest pain
- Chest pain during pregnancy second trimester is easy to avoid by taking plenty of magnesium, iron, calcium and vitamins in daily diet
WiseGEEK: What are the Most Common Causes of Chest Pain During Pregnancy?
There are many things that may cause chest pain during pregnancy, among the most common of which are indigestion, heartburn, increases in breast size, and anemia. Some women may also have pain because they are dealing with increased levels of stress, have a widened rib cage, or are feeling pressure caused by the growing baby. Less commonly, chest pain could be a sign of a heart attack. For this reason, a pregnant woman may be advised to have any unexplained chest pain evaluated by a medical professional.
Indigestion and heartburn are frequent complaints among pregnant women. As an unborn child grows and develops, a woman’s abdomen gradually becomes more crowded, squeezing the stomach and causing pain. Indigestion is basically stomach upset and may be accompanied by not only a burning sensation in the chest and stomach, but also nausea and vomiting, pain in the abdominal area, bloating, belching, and gas. Heartburn occurs when stomach acids back up into a person’s esophagus and cause a burning pain in the chest.
Sometimes, an underlying condition is the cause of chest pain during pregnancy. Anemia, which is marked by too few red blood cells, may cause chest pain if it is severe during pregnancy. It may also cause fatigue, fainting, and shortness of breath. In some cases, asthma, for which pain and pressure in the chest can be a symptom, may get worse during pregnancy.
In some cases, changes related to the developing baby may cause chest pain. As the unborn baby grows, a woman may experience increased pressure on both her diaphragm and her ribs. Her rib cage may widen as well, which may strain the muscles in the area and contribute to pain. She may also experience back pain related to pregnancy that causes her to feel pain in her chest. A woman’s breasts grow in preparation for nurturing her baby, and their increased weight may cause pain as well.
Mental stress can sometimes cause physical symptoms as well. During pregnancy, stress may lead to tension in the muscles of the chest, which may cause a woman to feel discomfort or outright pain during pregnancy.
Often, chest pain during pregnancy is innocent and isn’t caused by a serious medical condition. It is possible, however, for it to be a symptom of something serious and life threatening, such as a heart attack. As a result, it’s a good idea for any woman experiencing unexplained pain to see a medical professional promptly.
3) @SarahGen– When I found out I was pregnant, I was extremely stressed about giving birth and raising a child. I was depressed and would get headaches, nausea, anxiety and chest pain. Try to relax.
2) @SarahGen– Do you have high blood pressure?
Pre-eclampsia is constant high blood pressure during pregnancy. It is dangerous and has to be kept under control. I had pre-eclampsia during my pregnancy but I never had chest pain. I did have headache and edema though.
Everyone is different though, so there is a possibility that high blood pressure is causing chest pain. A blood pressure measuring should clarify this for you.
If you don’t have high blood pressure, it might just be pregnancy heartburn. When the stomach has too much acid, the acid moves up and irritates the esophagus which can feel like chest pain. I had this at one point too!
1) Is chest pain during pregnancy a symptom of pre-eclampsia?
I’m three months pregnant and I have been having chest pain for the past several days. A friend of mine had pre-eclapsia during her pregnancy and had to be under strict doctor control and rest throughout the nine months. I’m scared that I might have it too.
Http://www. health-and-parenting. com/rib-pain-during-pregnancy/
Http://www. pregnancyhealth. net/chest-pain-tightness-pregnancy/
Http://www. wisegeekhealth. com/what-are-the-most-common-causes-of-chest-pain-during-pregnancy. htm