Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy: Common Causes and When to Call the Doctor

by Glenn Maxwell

Learn what causes abdominal discomfort during pregnancy, and discover whether your signs and symptoms are common or require immediate attention out of your doctor.

Some abdominal discomfort while pregnant is common. In the end, your organs are continually shifting, your uterus is expanding, as well as your ligaments are stretching-which may cause benign pains and aches. On rare occasions, though, abdominal discomfort can signal something serious. Consult our guide to understand more about what causes lower and upper abdominal discomfort while pregnant, and discover when you should call the physician.

Harmless Reasons for Abdominal Discomfort While Pregnant

From constipation to round ligament discomfort, here are a few common culprits that create harmless abdominal discomfort while pregnant. Bear in mind when the discomfort you are experiencing continues-or you have worrisome signs and symptoms for example bleeding or strong cramping-you can examine along with your Primary health care provider-GYN immediately.

Your Growing Uterus

As the uterus grows, it displaces your bowel, “be responsible for nausea, a feeling of feeling full easily, or distention inside your abdomen,” states Patrick Duff, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the College of Florida at Gainesville. The answer? Eat more frequent and smaller sized meals, get some exercise regularly, get enough proper sleep, and empty your bladder frequently.

Round Ligament Discomfort

“Sometimes because the uterus enlarges, it stretches the round ligaments-two big ligaments that travel from the front from the uterus and lower in to the groin,” Dr. Duff states. Round ligament discomfort usually starts between 18 and 24 days (around when you begin showing) and frequently occurs somewhere of the belly, although it can strike both. You might feel it as being lower abdominal discomfort that radiates in to the groin it might be sharp and stabbing or dull and achy, also it usually lasts just for a couple of seconds. It may be triggered by movement that triggers these ligaments to stretch, like coughing, sneezing, laughing, or getting out of bed all of a sudden. Round ligament discomfort usually resolves by itself, but when you are very uncomfortable, ask your Primary health care provider-GYN if you’re able to take acetaminophen.

Constipation and Gas

Constipation and gas are frequently area of the pregnancy package, regrettably. Progesterone, a hormone that increases while pregnant, slows lower your whole gastrointestinal tract, making foods travel more gradually through it. To combat constipation, stay well hydrated and eat fiber-wealthy foods. In the event that does not relieve the issue, your midwife or primary health care provider-gyn may recommend excrement softener or perhaps a fiber supplement.

Braxton Hicks Contractions

“Braxton Hicks contractions aren’t connected with dilation from the cervix,” Dr. Duff states. “They are annoying, but totally benign.” The secret is differentiating these “practice contractions” from real premature labor. “True contractions have a tendency to catch up with and closer together,” Dr. Duff states. “If a person can transport on the conversation, view television, or read, then your contractions are most likely a fantasy labor.” Lack of fluids can trigger Braxton Hicks contractions, so drink lots of fluids. When the contractions persist, or you are unsure whether they are Braxton Hicks or true contractions, call your Primary health care provider-GYN.

Serious Reasons for Abdominal Discomfort during pregnancy

For a small amount of expecting parents, serious pregnancy complications can be cultivated that need immediate attention out of your Primary health care provider-GYN. Some warning flags to look out for include bleeding, severe discomfort, fever, and visual disturbances.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic or tubal pregnancies-where the egg implants someplace apart from the uterus, most frequently within the fallopian tube-exist in one inch every 50 pregnancies, based on the March of Dimes. For those who have an ectopic pregnancy, you might experience intense discomfort and bleeding involving the sixth and tenth days of being pregnant, because the tube becomes distended. The next factors increase the chance of ectopic pregnancy: previous pelvic, abdominal, or fallopian tube surgery endometriosis previous ectopic pregnancy tubal ligation getting an intrauterine device (IUD) in position during the time of conception or perhaps a pelvic infection. An abnormally formed uterus and using artificial reproductive techniques also appear to improve the danger.

Ectopic pregnancies can’t continue and wish immediate treatment. Should you have had an optimistic pregnancy test but have not yet had your pregnancy confirmed with a health check, and also you experience abdominal discomfort, you ought to be evaluated immediately from your Primary health care provider-GYN, states Linda Chambliss, M.D., chief of obstetrics at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Clinic in Phoenix. Your Primary health care provider-GYN or midwife are capable of doing an ultrasound to verify if the egg has implanted within the uterus.


When women experience abdominal discomfort during early pregnancy, “a person always has to think about miscarriage,” states Dr. Duff, since the unfortunate truth is that 15-20 percent of pregnancies finish in miscarriage. Signs and symptoms of miscarriage include bleeding and cramping that may be rhythmic or resemble menstrual cramps.

Preterm Labor

If you are experiencing regular contractions before you are 37 days pregnant, and it is supported by persistent back pain, you may be getting preterm labor. Now is not time to hold back it-call your Primary health care provider-GYN immediately. The contractions might include dripping vaginal fluid or bloodstream or home loan business fetal movement.

Even experienced women that are pregnant may be unable to know if contractions are Braxton Hicks or true preterm labor, Dr. Chambliss states, so she asks her patients to anytime they think contractions. You might finish up being told to go home since it is an incorrect alarm (Dr. Chambliss states this occurs to around 30 % from the ladies who appear in her own triage unit), but it is better safe than sorry, particularly in this situation.

Placental Abruption

Your placenta provides nutrients and oxygen for your baby. It always implants high in uterine wall and does not remove until after your child comes into the world. In rare cases (1 from every 200 births), the placenta can outside of the uterine wall-a harmful complication that’s most typical within the third trimester. Dr. Duff describes the anguish from the placental abruption as “severe, constant, progressively worsening lower abdomen discomfort.” Your uterus can become rock solid (should you press around the abdomen, it will not indent) and you’ll also provide dark, red bleeding that does not have clots.

In some instances, a lady might have to go into labor when her placenta separates, by which situation her Primary health care provider-GYN will often provide the baby by emergency cesarean section. When the abruption is mild, a physician may permit the pregnancy to carry on or may induce labor for any vaginal delivery. Women in danger of this problem include individuals who’ve past placental abruption, in addition to individuals rich in bloodstream pressure, preeclampsia, and abdominal trauma.


Based on the Preeclampsia First step toward America, preeclampsia along with other hypertensive disorders exist in 5 to eight percent of pregnancies. Preeclampsia can be cultivated after 20 days (that is partially why your physician checks your bloodstream pressure at each appointment) and it is characterised by high bloodstream pressure and protein within the urine. Because high bloodstream pressure constricts the vessels within the uterus supplying the fetus with nutrients and oxygen, the newborn’s growth might be slowed. Preeclampsia also increases the chance of placental abruption, where the placenta separates in the uterine wall before delivery.

Women with severe preeclampsia may also experience discomfort within the upper right part of your abdomen, nausea, headaches, swelling, and visual disturbances like flashing lights. If you think preeclampsia, call your Primary health care provider-GYN immediately.

Urinary System Infection (Bladder infection)

As much as 10 % of pregnant women will receive a urinary system infection (Bladder infection) sooner or later throughout their pregnancy, based on the March of Dimes. Typical signs and symptoms incorporate a sudden urge to urinate, discomfort or burning with peeing, and bloody peeing-however, many patients having a Bladder infection also experience abdominal discomfort, Dr. Chambliss states. “The priority with UTIs while pregnant is they can progress for an infection inside your kidneys which will improve your chance of preterm labor,” she adds. The good thing is when a Bladder infection is caught early, it ought to be simple to treat with antibiotics-and that is one good reason why your Primary health care provider-GYN tests your urine during every visit.


Appendicitis can be challenging to identify during pregnancy, states Dr. Duff, because “because the uterus enlarges, the appendix pulls up and may wake up close to the navel or liver. That atypical presentation provides for us a curveball.” And also the delayed diagnosis raises the chance of dying from appendicitis while pregnant. Even though the usual hallmark of appendicitis is discomfort within the lower right quadrant of the abdomen, you might feel it greater up when you are pregnant. Other signs and symptoms include insufficient appetite, nausea, and vomiting.


Gemstones within the gall bladder tend to be more experienced by women too, particularly if they are overweight, older than 35, and have past gemstones, Dr. Chambliss states. The discomfort from gallstones (also known as cholecystitis) is severe and focused within the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. In some instances, the discomfort might also radiate around for your back and beneath your right shoulder blade.

When you should Call the Physician

Please call your physician if you think something’s wrong. “For those who have something that you are worried about, you need to speak to your Primary health care provider-GYN or perhaps be seen,” states Rebecca Shiffman, M.D., director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Lincoln subsequently Hospital in Bronx, New You are able to. “That is what we are for-to supply solutions to women that are pregnant and also to provide whatever care they require.” Always call your physician immediately for those who have these signs and symptoms:

  • Abdominal discomfort without or with bleeding before 12 days
  • Bleeding or strong cramping
  • Greater than four contractions within an hour for 2 hrs
  • Severe abdominal discomfort
  • Visual disturbances
  • Severe headache
  • Severe swelling from the hands, legs, or face
  • Discomfort during peeing, difficulty urinating, or bloodstream inside your urine
  • Chills or fever

How you can Ease Abdominal Discomfort While Pregnant

Wondering should there be anything that you can do to help relieve benign abdominal discomfort while pregnant? Obviously, the therapy depends upon what’s resulting in the discomfort, however these tips could possibly help.

  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Get some exercise regularly, moderately with a doctor’s approval
  • Choose fiber-wealthy foods (including fruits, vegetables, and bran)
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Empty your bladder frequently
  • Rest frequently
  • Change how you move, particularly if you’re experiencing round ligament discomfort. For instance, you could try sitting lower and becoming up more gradually and seeking to not turn dramatically in the waist.

But don’t forget: If you are experiencing any worrisome signs and symptoms, begin to see the physician immediately.

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