Sharp Pregnancy Pain – Causes and Symptoms

It can be stressful, especially for first-time mothers, to discern between normal pregnancy pains and when there is a possible complication from a sharp pain during pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body will undergo many changes as it adapts to the growing life inside of you. You will gain weight and your body will grow to accommodate your new baby. While this is natural and necessary, it can cause some discomfort.

Possible Causes of a Sharp Pain During Pregnancy

One of the most common sharp pains that women report is a stabbing pain in and around the uterus, stomach or groin area. While this can be uncomfortable, in many cases it can be explained by normal changes that occur during pregnancy.
Some common causes include:

Although the above conditions are part of normal pregnancy, they typically don’t cause sharp pain. If the sharp pain you are experiencing is localized on one side, it could be indicative of an ectopic pregnancy. This is a serious condition and requires urgent medical attention.
A pending miscarriage can also result in a sharp pain from the cramping. This raises concerns for expecting mothers who want to know the difference between normal cramping associated with the expanding uterus and cramping from a pending miscarriage.
Contacting your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms is always the right choice.

Warning Signs/ Symptoms for a Sharp Pain During Pregnancy

Image of a pregnant woman who has a sharp pain in her stomach
Despite the fact that sharp pain can be the result of normal pregnancy change, there are some warning signs that you need to watch out for in case the sharp pain is the result of a complication.

  • If pain is accompanied by vomiting, fever, chills, heavy bleeding/blood flow, or change in vaginal discharge
  • If the sharp pain is continual after resting or adjusting (round ligament pain shouldn’t last more than a few minutes)
  • If the pain makes it difficult to breathe, walk or speak

If you experience any of the above symptoms contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Coping With Pregnancy Pains

If you are experiencing sharp or stabbing pain during pregnancy, there are some possible solutions that you can try to alleviate the pain:

Again, if the pain becomes too intense or prevents you from doing day-to-day activities, contact your health care provider immediately. Consult with your doctor for more pregnancy-safe pain management ideas.

Want to Know More?

Get the Fetal Life App for Apple and Android endorsed by the American Pregnancy Association. It features meal recommendations, kicks counter, blood glucose tracking, and more.
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Gibbs, R. (2008). Prenatal Care. In Danforth’s obstetrics and gynecology (10th ed., p. 18). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Harms, R. (2004). Mayo Clinic guide to a healthy pregnancy (1st ed.). New York: HarperResource.
Jordan, R. (2014). Exercise, Recreational and occupational issues, and intimate relationships in pregnancy. In Prenatal and postnatal care: A woman-centered approach (pp. 274-279). Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.