Cramps During Pregnancy

4 min read

Cramps during pregnancy

Cramps are medically defined as ‘painful involuntary muscles contraction causing discomfort and pain. Cramps are very common in pregnancy and are believed to be due to the normal changes occurring due to the development of your baby.

A few days after the fertilization of the egg by the sperm, the embryo attaches itself to the uterine wall. This is the time when cramping and spotting can occur. Pregnancy cramps are similar to menstrual cramps.

In This Article

Causes of Pregnancy Cramps

Usually, cramps occur due to the expansion of uterine ligaments and musculature. As your uterus expands, the ligaments and muscles supporting it stretch more than usual and you experience mild cramping in the abdomen. They are more pronounced when you cough, sneeze or upon change of positions.

Cramps During Early Pregnancy

Abdominal cramps are counted as one of the early symptoms of pregnancy. As your body gears up for pregnancy and a baby, mild pregnancy pains are linked to the normal physical changes that your body is going through now.

A little spotting with cramps at roughly the same time as your period is a sign that the embryo has implanted itself into the womb. This is again nothing to worry about if the pain is not severe and you do not experience gastrointestinal symptoms and dizziness.

Cramps During Pregnancy Second Trimester

The belly starts to grow in the second trimester. The round ligament of the uterus is the main cause of cramps in the second trimester. As it stretches, you experience a stabbing and a dull ache in the lower abdomen.

Mild cramping is quite common in pregnancy and should not be worried about. Many pregnancies mark abdominal cramps as one of the early symptoms of pregnancy.

Other important causes of cramps involve:

  • Bloating and flatulence
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Constipation

Managing Pregnancy Cramps

Here are a few things that you can do to ease the discomfort associated with pregnancy cramps.

  1. Try to change position, sit or lie down
  2. Do some light relaxing exercises
  3. Curl on a sofa with a magazine pr a novel and a hot water bottle
  4. Breathing exercises are also helpful in easing the pain
  5. Sit in a tub full of lukewarm water
  6. Drink plenty of fluids
  7. Ask someone to give you a gentle, warm massage on your lower back
  8. Snuggle in the bed or the sofa with a warm water bag and a read

If the pain still does not subside then consult your doctor for pain killers.

Alarming Concerns For Cramps During Pregnancy

Though cramps are common in pregnancy, there are a few conditions that should be borne in mind when your cramps during your pregnancy are more often and severe.

1. Eccyesis or Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency when the fertilized egg is implanted in fallopian tubes, broad ligament, or any other place except the uterus. Eccyesis is very fatal for the mother as the internal hemorrhage caused can prove to be life-threatening for the mother.

Most ectopic pregnancies are seen at the distal end of the Fallopian tubes (93–97 percent). If you experience pain or cramps at either side of the lower abdomen, immediately consult your doctor, who will ask you to get the necessary ultrasonography done to rule out the presence of an ectopic pregnancy

2. Miscarriage

Spotting per vagina accompanied by varying degrees of cramps can be a potential sign of abortion or miscarriage. Do not take cramps and spotting lightly, consult your doctor immediately

3. Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infection is a very distressing condition characterized by difficulty in urination, burning in urination, urgency, and increased frequency of urine.

4. Placental Abruption

Placental abruption is the separation of the placenta from the uterine wall before the birth of the baby. This condition can be signaled by painful cramps lasting for long durations

5. Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition characterized by high blood pressure and the appearance of protein in the urine. High blood pressure or hypertension in severe forms can cause sharp and intense pain in the upper abdomen

6. Preterm Labor

Preterm labor also called premature labor is the onset of labor pains before 36 completed weeks of pregnancy. Abdominal pain, increased pressure and cramps are important signs of preterm labor

Cramps can also be due to food poisoning, appendicitis, pancreatitis, fibroids, bowel obstruction, gall bladder disease, stomach insects.

Cramps That are NOT to be Ignored

  1. Severe prolonged pain not subsiding by mild analgesics
  2. Low abdominal pain associated with contractions
  3. Cramps associated with vaginal bleeding or discharge
  4. Cramps associated with dizziness and gastrointestinal symptoms

Remember, cramps are a curable condition and if it becomes intolerable, immediately consult your doctor to avoid any medical emergency.

FAQ’s

1. Why do I Get Frequent Cramps During Pregnancy?

As the baby grows, the uterus expands. As the ligament around stretches, it causes cramps. This is very common.

2. How Can Pregnant Women Prevent Cramps?

Stretch your muscles regularly. Ensure you are well hydrated. If cramps are frequent, you many need more supplements.

3. When Should I be Worried About Cramps During Pregnancy?

Mild cramps are normal. When the pain is too much to handle consult your doctor. If you see blood, then please rush to your doctor.

4. Do Cramps in First Trimester Indicate an Abortion?

No, not always. It could be just your body adjusting to pregnancy. It is ok as long as it’s bearable.

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