Cramps during pregnancy are not comfortable and are sometimes painful sensations often caused by the normal changes happening in your body during your pregnancy. Different kinds of cramps during pregnancy affect about half of all pregnant women. It is common to experience cramps throughout your pregnancy and there isn’t necessarily a need to be alarmed.
What causes cramps during early pregnancy?
Cramps during pregnancy are common during the first trimester for a variety of reasons. Take a look below to learn more about some of the causes for cramping while pregnant:
- Implantation cramping sometimes occurs a week to 10 days after ovulation. If you have already had a positive pregnancy test, you can rule implantation cramping out as the reason for experiencing lower abdomen cramps during pregnancy. See also Early Signs of Pregnancy
- Uterine growth is needed as your uterus stretches and expands as your baby grows. As this happens the ligaments that support your uterus will stretch and this can cause some cramps during your pregnancy.
- Cramping along with bleeding could be a warning sign of miscarriage or if you are having abdominal pain or cramps on one side along with bleeding that could be a potential sign of an ectopic pregnancy
- Constipation or gas pains can often lead to cramps during early pregnancy.
What causes cramps during the third trimester?
There are different types of cramps that you might experience in the third trimester. Some can easily be explained by normal changes whereas others might be connected to a complication. Look through the points below to learn more about cramping in late pregnancy:
- Braxton Hicks contractions often occur during the second and third trimesters. These are irregular or intermittent contractions. See Braxton Hicks
- Round ligament pain can occur as the uterus continues to stretch and grow. This is pain usually in the lower abdomen or hip area. See round ligament
- Leg cramps are common due to the pressure from your uterus on your veins trying to return blood from your legs. This can be more common at night. See leg cramps
- Abdominal cramps could be symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infections or a UTI. If you are also experiencing pain or a burning sensation while urinating, the need to urinate more often than usual, or blood or mucus in the urine; see UTI during pregnancy
- Cramps during pregnancy along with diarrhea and back pain could be warning signs of preterm labor. This may occur between 20 – 37 weeks. See premature labor
- Cramps during late pregnancy could be a sign of labor. See Signs of labor
Cramps during pregnancy are common but you should discuss any kind of cramps with your health care provider.
How can you prevent and lessen cramps during pregnancy?
There are many important parts to staying healthy and comfortable during your pregnancy. You should be watching your weight throughout your pregnancy and try to stick to a well balanced diet. Exercise regularly making sure to stretch properly before and after any amount of exercise. Rest with your legs elevated. Wear properly fitting and supportive clothing. It is also very important to stay properly hydrated. Doing all of these things could help you prevent or minimize having cramps or the severity of your cramps during pregnancy.
When to contact a healthcare provide with cramping while pregnant
It is appropriate to contact your healthcare provider any time you experience cramping while pregnant. Contact your health care provider if your cramps during pregnancy are severe or remain consistent. Your health care provider may prescribe additional exercises, supplements or medication.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
American Pregnancy Association, various articles addressing cramping and related concerns, americanpregnancy.org.
Clinic, Mayo. (2004). Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.