Is Abdominal Pain Common During Pregnancy?

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Abdominal pain is normal as the body changes to accommodate the growing baby. While most of them are harmless causes of abdominal pain in pregnancy, some may become serious. Anyway it is important to educate yourself on all potential causes so that the expectant mother is able to recognize symptoms that may cause concern.

Normal Causes of Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy


Some abdominal aches and pains during pregnancy are quite common and generally pose no harm to mother and baby. These include:

  • Round Ligament Pain: This can be characterized by a sharp stabbing pain while changing positions, or can be an achy, dull, lingering pain. Round ligament pain is caused by the two large ligaments that run from your uterus to your groin. As the uterus grows, these ligaments get stretched and create discomfort. This generally occurs in the second trimester and is considered to be harmless.
  • Gas and Constipation: Gas is caused mainly due to an increased level of progesterone.  As more the hormone is released, the gastrointestinal tract slows down, which makes food travel more slowly. Eating fiber rich foods, drinking plenty of water, exercising, and using stool softeners are excellent ways to combat excessive gas and constipation.
  • Braxton Hicks Contractions: Also referred as “practice contractions” or “false contractions”. It may feel like tightening of the stomach muscles so that stomach feels firm or hard. It can be differentiated from true contractions if it doesn’t annoy you in doing daily tasks. Braxton Hick may be caused by dehydration, so drinking plenty of water can help eliminate this problem to an extent.
  • Common Discomforts: There are other common abdominal discomforts which can be experienced during pregnancy and are generally non-threatening. The growing uterus, stomach viruses, kidney stones, fibroids, and food sensitivities are all valid symptoms of harmless abdominal pain.

 Serious Abdominal Pain Issue


Although many experience abdominal pain have healthy pregnancies, there are times when abdominal pain can pose a serious risk.  Here are some symptoms which require proper attention from the medical professional.

Ectopic Pregnancy: An ectopic pregnancy is when the egg is implanted anywhere other than the uterus which occurs in 1 out of 50 pregnancies.  Most often, the egg is implanted in the fallopian tube.  In rare cases one may experience intense pain and bleeding between the 6th and 10th weeks of pregnancy. Women at increased risk for an ectopic pregnancy include those who have had endometriosis, an ectopic pregnancy in the past, or a tubal ligation, or an intrauterine device (IUD) in place at the time of conception.

 Placental abruption: Placental abruption is a life-threatening condition where the placenta get separated from your uterus before the baby is born. One symptom of placental abruption is constant pain that causes the stomach to stay hard for an extended period of time without relief. Another symptom is bloody fluid or premature breakage of your water. Additional symptoms include tenderness in your abdomen, back pain, or fluid discharge that includes traces of blood.

  • Miscarriage: The studies reveal that 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage making it the most common form of pregnancy loss. Sometimes referred to as “spontaneous abortion,” miscarriage occurs in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Signs of a miscarriage include mild to severe back pain, true contractions, tissue or clot-like material passing from the vagina, brown or bright red bleeding with or without cramps, and a sudden decrease in other signs of pregnancy.
  • Urinary Tract Infection: If ignored, a urinary tract infection can cause complications and can be treated easily if diagnosed at correct time. Most often recognized by pain, discomfort, burning sensation while urinating, it can also produce lower abdominal pain. Seek immediate help in case of urinary tract infection since stronger cases may affect kidneys.
  •  Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine after 20 weeks gestation. Upper abdominal pain, usually under the ribs on the right side, can accompany other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and increased pressure on your abdomen

When to Call a Doctor?

Consult a medical care professional immediately if you encounter any of the following symptoms in addition to abdominal pain or discomfort:

  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Severe or persistent pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Light-headedness
  • Discomfort while urinating
  • Nausea and vomiting