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Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy: What to Expect

Babies can be mischievous little gremlins, sending cryptic cues about their progress as they grow in your belly. And often, these little messages are guided as abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is a well-accepted element of pregnancy. Naturally, as organs stretch to accommodate your new munchkin, the body is bound to feel the strain. But sometimes, this pain may be more than it seems; it could signal a more serious underlying problem.

Normal Causes of Pain During Pregnancy

Not all abdominal pain during pregnancy is a cause for concern. Constipation, ligament stretches and uterus expansion may all contribute to a pressured abdomen. However, if your pain is persistent or is accompanied by bleeding, spotting or cramping, it’s advisable to consult your obstetrician as early as possible.

  • Cause
    Reason + Effect
  • Uterus expansion
    Stretching of uterine muscles
    Bed rest
  • Constipation
    The rise in progesterone slows the gastrointestinal tract down
    1 – 3
    Plenty of fluids, fibre-rich intake, fibre supplement prescribed by a doctor
  • Round ligament pain
    Uterus expansion pushes the round ligaments down into the groin 
    Self-resolution; no intervention required
  • Braxton Hicks contractions
    Practice contractions on the lead up to delivery
    2 – 3
    Plenty of fluids

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Abnormal Causes of Pain During Pregnancy

Sometimes, stomach pain during pregnancy is your body’s way of signalling danger. Many women who experience complications go on to have healthy pregnancies, but if you experience abdominal pain, it’s important to have it vetted by your doctor. Signs like bleeding, pain, fever and compromised eyesight should be watched for.

  • Cause
    Reason + Effect
  • Ectopic pregnancy
    Implantation of the egg outside the uterus can cause extreme pain and occasional spotting, especially between weeks 6 and 10
    Immediate treatment, either via surgery or medication
  • Miscarriage
    Chromosomal anomalies or other factors can lead to a failed pregnancy, causing bleeding and painful, rhythmic cramping
    Self-resolution; sometimes a miscarriage may be silent, in which case a D&C procedure may be required
  • Premature labour
    Regular contractions before 37 weeks can imply premature labour; they may sometimes be accompanied by vaginal mucus, blood or both
    Contact with and intervention by a doctor
  • Placental abruption
    Separation of the placenta from the uterine wall can cause severe, continual lower abdominal pain
    Induced labour or recommendation to continue the pregnancy, depending on the severity of the case
  • Preeclampsia
    High blood pressure compresses uterine blood vessels, restricting the baby’s growth
    2 – 3
    Continual monitoring and medical management by a doctor

To Know More: About Responding To Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

When to Call Your Doctor

Trust your gut when it comes to contacting your doctor. If you feel that something is out of the ordinary, it’s advisable to reach out right away. Here is a list of symptoms you should be wary of:

  • Abdominal pain, with or without bleeding, during the first trimester
  • Bleeding or intense abdominal cramps
  • More than 1 contraction every fifteen minutes, for two hours
  • Extreme abdominal pain
  • Compromised eyesight
  • Intense headache
  • Extremely swollen hands or legs
  • Discomfort or pain during urination
  • Bloody urine

Abdominal pain is part and parcel of most pregnancies, but there are ways that can help to alleviate the discomfort. Small and frequent meals, regular exercise, fibrous foods, plentiful fluids, periodic bladder relief and adequate rest are some. Harmless pain can be a welcome clue that your pregnancy is unfolding as it should and that your organs are doing their job well. Take it as a dialogue between you and your baby, a secret conversation that travels from your heart to hers.

Must Read: The Common Pregnancy Pains And Aches

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