Abdominal Pain during Pregnancy

Several bodily changes happen during pregnancy to accommodate the growing fetus in the womb. Abdominal pain may be a normal part of these changes. Most of the abdominal pain felt during pregnancy are harmless and does not affect the baby in any way. But, there are some serious causes of abdominal pain as well. It is important to know the potential causes so that it is easy to identify symptoms that may indicate a potential risk.

Common causes of abdominal pain during pregnancy

Some of the common causes of abdominal pain and cramps during pregnancy are

  • Round ligament pain – this harmless pain is caused by the stretching of the two large ligaments by the growing uterus. It is usually felt in the second trimester and is felt as a stabbing pain when you change positions, or as a dull, lingering pain.
  • Gas and constipation – slowing down of the gastrointestinal tract by hormones results in gas and constipation and thus abdominal pain. This is normal during pregnancy and can be relieved by having fiber-rich foods and exercising.
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions – these contractions are felt like a tightening of the stomach muscles, but unlike true contractions, you can carry on with all normal activities.
  • Some type of stomach viruses, kidney stones, and fibroids may also lead to abdominal pain.

Serious causes of abdominal pain

In some cases, abdominal pain may pose a serious risk. Some of the serious causes of abdominal pain are

  • Ectopic pregnancy – this is caused by the implantation of the egg, mostly in the fallopian tube. It requires immediate medical attention and it may lead to intense abdominal pain and bleeding between 6th to 10th week of pregnancy.
  • Placental abruption – this is a condition characterized by the separation of the placenta before the birth of the baby. Common symptoms of this condition include a persistent pain in the abdomen and premature breakage of water. You may also have back pain and fluid discharge with traces of blood in it.
  • Miscarriage – this mostly occurs within 13 weeks of pregnancy and is characterized by symptoms like bleeding without cramps, clot-like discharge from the vagina, and true contractions.
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) – lower abdominal pain is a common symptom of UTI. You may also have pain, discomfort and a burning sensation while passing urine. This condition also needs medical attention to avoid complications.
  • Pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure and increased levels of proteins in blood are two common symptoms of this condition. Women with pre-eclampsia may have a pain in the upper abdomen along with nausea, vomiting, and increased pressure in the abdomen.

Red-flag symptoms

Do call your doctor if abdominal pain is accompanied by

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