Feeling Your Abdominal Tightening During Pregnancy?

6 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

abdominal tightening during pregnancy

Pregnancy is an amazing phase of life. It is a roller coaster ride with its pros and cons. Besides being filled with joy and ecstasy, it is also accompanied by some distressing situations. Abdominal tightening during pregnancy or stomach tightening during early pregnancy and lower backache are the two most common pregnancy concerns observed mostly by expectant mothers.

Abdominal tightening during pregnancy is a feeling of tightness in the abdomen and is often confused with a cramp. Pregnant women might experience it from the first trimester and it will continue till last month of pregnancy. Read to know what is Abdominal tightening and what causes it during pregnancy.

In This Article

Abdominal Tightening During Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings about many changes in your body one after the other due to alteration in hormones. As your center of gravity changes, you notice pain in joints, tendons, and circulatory and digestive issues. Tightness in the stomach during pregnancy is a feeling of tightness in the abdomen and is often confused with a cramp. As your pregnancy grows, the uterus will feel hard as it brushes against the skin. If you are on the heavier side, you may feel this abdominal tightening during pregnancy much later than a skinny woman. You will feel that you are having stomach tightening at irregular intervals, and you might interpret them as contractions.

Though this feeling of the tight stomach during pregnancy third trimester does not last long, some women have reported that they have felt it for as long as 5 minutes. The tightness in the stomach is often accompanied by weight gain. The increasing weight stretches the skin, and Braxton Hicks contractions or prodromal labor, or false labor may also set in. Braxton-Hicks contractions help prepare your body for actual true labor pains.

Abdominal Tightening in Early Pregnancy

In early pregnancy, the stretching of ligaments is responsible for abdominal tightening during pregnancy. As the baby grows and demands more space, the uterus stretches itself pushing the other organs. Because of this, the stomach becomes hard and tight with each passing day, and you could feel uncomfortable with your stomach being tight. Round ligament pain is fairly common during this phase of pregnancy. It may not be regular, though. Besides this constipation, large meals, or flatulence can also lead to abdominal tightening.

Tightening of Abdomen in Late Pregnancy

In late pregnancy, the movement of the baby can result in a tight stomach. With the advancement of pregnancy, the abdomen expands to accommodate the growing fetus. Your organs and the growing baby share the abdominal space. Abdominal tightening is obvious, and it can be persistent in the last few months. The growing uterus and the baby’s movements can both cause the feeling of tightness in the stomach. Weight gain during pregnancy is also associated with the tightening of the abdomen.

The fat deposited under the skin stretches your abdominal wall and causes tightening. Gastric problems are also frequent in late pregnancy that can cause the stomach to feel tighter. However, if the tightening is more pronounced and does not go away, it could be a sign of preterm or even full-term labor. Progesterone hormone is sometimes used to avoid preterm labour in some cases.

[Read : Progesterone Treatment To Avoid Preterm Birth]

Other Causes of Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy

women having braxton hicks and doing breathing exercise

1. Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks Contractions, which are quite frequent in the second and third trimester, are also responsible for abdominal tightening during pregnancy. These contractions are often referred to as ‘false labor’. Try to record the frequency of the contractions and their duration as well. This information is very helpful for your doctor.

2. Placental Abruption

The placenta is important as it nourishes the growing fetus. Under normal conditions, it is attached closely to the uterine muscular wall. Sometimes it detaches and descends into the lower uterine segment. Bleeding occurs, and the uterus becomes firm and often tender to touch. This tightening is not temporary but lasts for long. In this condition-the abruption placenta poses a severe threat to the mother as well as the developing baby.

[Read : Placental Abruption]

3. Large Meals

As your stomach is pressed for space to accommodate the growing baby and the uterus, a large meal can cause a struggle for space in the limited quarters of your stomach. It is always advised to consume healthy food at regular intervals instead of gobbling a lot of food in one sitting. You will surely feel a difference if you plan your eating frequency and quantity.

4. Constipation

Most women experience constipation as a side-effect of pregnancy. Constipation can cause gas, bloating and your stomach feels solid and hard. You may feel a tightening of the stomach owing to so much space constraint.

When to Call the Doctor For Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy?

women in labor pain husband calling doctor

You should call your doctor right away if the abdominal tightening during pregnancy is getting longer and stronger, and you fall into a high-risk pregnancy. Following conditions require intervention from the doctor:

  • If you experience abdominal tightening during pregnancy more than four times an hour, make sure you immediately consult your doctor.
  • If the tightness does not vanish in a few minutes and continues to persist, consult your doctor without delay.
  • Call the doctor immediately if you notice any breathing difficulties due to the tightening of the abdomen.
  • If pain is present along with abdominal tightening, do not take it lightly. Seek immediate medical help.

Treatment of Abdominal Tightening in Pregnancy

The treatment of abdominal tightening is dependent upon the underlying causes:

  • If Braxton Hicks contractions are the root cause, then changing position can be of help. For example, if you are sitting, stand up and walk a while and vice versa.
  • No treatment is needed for tightening caused by uterine contractions or due to fetal movements.
  • Generally, the abdominal tightening during pregnancy is quite harmless, but preterm labor can also make your abdomen tight. So do not neglect when tightening the stomach happens.
  • Ask your doctor to tell you about breathing exercises for strengthening abdominal muscles.
  • Keep yourself well hydrated. So drink plenty of fluids.
  • Take an adequate amount of rest to keep you vitalized and rejuvenated.
  • Tightening will curtail your routine activities such as wearing shoes, bending down, sleeping on your side, etc. Try to practice deep breathing exercises to help you overcome breathing problems caused by tightening.

How Can I Tell the Difference Between Braxton-Hicks Contractions and True Labor?

pregnant women having Abdomen pain

Not always easy, but some signs can help you distinguish Braxton Hicks contractions from true labor.

  • The first sign is that true labor is painful, and even if Braxton Hicks can be discomforting, they will rarely move towards your back, a definite sign of true labor.
  • True labor is also regular, getting intense with every minute. When you are in true labor, pains will not ease with walking or changing positions, and eating anything too will not have any effect. In such a case, do call your doctor right away.
  • You might also feel that the baby has descended in the lower abdomen, and there will be an increase in vaginal discharge-either watery or blood-stained. The amniotic bag breaks down when the contractions become rapid and come in quick succession.
  • Pain becomes unbearable, and you find difficulty in walking and talking.

Remember a little discomfort is normal in pregnancy, and there is nothing to be vexed about it. You know it very well when it becomes more than what you can bear, and the need for medical assistance arises.

[Read : Water Breaking During Pregnancy]


1. Is it Normal For Your Stomach to Tighten During Pregnancy?

Although it is normal to feel a tight stomach during pregnancy, the cause behind this feeling varies. During early pregnancy it is because of ligaments stretching and later on it could be due to gas or uterus stretch.

2. Does Your Stomach Feel Tight in Early Pregnancy?

Yes, the stomach does feel tight during early pregnancy, because the muscles stretch when the uterus expands to accommodate the growing fetus.

3. What Causes Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy?

The cause of stomach tightening during the first trimester can be ligament tightening, gas, constipation, or miscarriage. But later on in the third trimester, it can be due to overeating, nearing delivery time, pressure on the abdomen, or even baby’s movement.

4. Why Does the Stomach Tighten During Pregnancy?

Stomach tightening during pregnancy is because of one or many of the following reasons- Gas, constipation, miscarriage, uterus stretch, ligament pain, Braxton Hick contractions, fetal movement, or overeating.

Read Also: How To Identify Braxton-Hicks Contractions?

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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