Primary Reasons for Cramps During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a very exciting time, especially for the first time mother. At first it is very easy to think about baby names, decorations for the baby’s room, and planning fun future events with the new family addition. However, there usually comes a time in each pregnancy where the mother becomes concerned. Check the article on how early can pregnancy symptoms start and why.

Physical and emotional changes can and do happen throughout almost all pregnancies. These can be alarming to many pregnant women. Many are expected and very normal, while others may give reason for concern.

Cramps During Pregnancy

by molly_darling under CC BY-ND


It is important for each pregnancy to be monitored by a healthcare professional, whether that is in a clinic or with a midwife. At each visit measurements can be taken, risk can be assessed and issues can be discussed so that the pregnancy can continue safely. Each pregnancy is different, so try not to assume that even though you have had several kids prior that this pregnancy will be the same.

There are normal aches, headaches and pains that come with being pregnant. Your body is changing drastically in some instances and more slowly in others. It is amazing how the body works to create a safe environment for the baby to mature. However, with this transformation can come pains that may not be expected. Many women experience cramps during pregnancy.

The reasons for cramps during pregnancy are very far reaching. Many of them will be discussed here, but this is not an exhaustive list. Also, as with any concern during pregnancy, be sure to discuss any cramp pain with your healthcare professional.

Many women will experience a cramping feeling at the beginning of the pregnancy because of implantation. This usually occurs eight to ten days after ovulation, but can vary some between women. This is a normal type pain that should come and go and not return once implantation has occurred.

Another reason for mild cramping is when the uterus is stretching to prepare for the baby’s growth. The ligaments around the uterus will be stretched and can cause some slight cramping. This pain, too, should not last nor have other pregnancy symptoms noted with it. This type of pain can usually be noted about the second trimester.

Just as with any person, gas and gastrointestinal issues can cause cramping. This may just be exaggerated with a pregnant woman. As the abdomen starts to get squeezed by the growing baby, there is a greater chance of developing gas cramps and constipation. Usually this will pass within a short period of time, but if not your doctor may have some safe suggestions to help relieve the pain.

Although the types of cramping mentioned to this point have been low risk, there are some types of cramping that need to be addressed right away. An ectopic pregnancy can occur and will usually show signs with severe cramping, particularly on one side, plus bleeding or spotting may occur. With this type of pregnancy, the fertilized egg attaches somewhere other than the uterus, usually the fallopian tube. This causes an emergent situation that needs to be addressed right away. This type of pregnancy is usually caught within the first few months, and most always will not be able to grow to maturity.

One possible explanation for severe abdominal cramping is miscarriage. This usually occurs before the twentieth week of pregnancy. Often times this is a result of lack of implantation or a chromosomal abnormality. In most cases, miscarriage cannot be prevented.

It is suggested that eating a healthy diet, one rich with folic acid and other beneficial prenatal vitamins and minerals, will help prepare the body for pregnancy. These foods need to be continued throughout the pregnancy. Here is the list of food to avoid during pregnancy. Also, limiting stressful situations, not participating in contact sports or any dangerous event will help promote a healthy environment for a pregnancy.

There are also very normal things that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy that can also cause cramping, and can usually be remedied. Things like a bladder infection or UTI can cause some cramping or other pains in the back, or upon urinating. These can usually be treated with antibiotics and cleared up.

Other explanations can involve having a stomach virus, appendicitis, or food poisoning. If the pain does not ease and is accompanied by a fever, it is wise to seek medical attention. If you experience vomiting and diarrhea then you may suspect a virus or food poisoning. In this case, be sure to stay hydrated if you can because dehydration can easily set in on a pregnant woman.

As the months pass, different types of cramps during pregnancy may occur. Round ligament pain refers to the continued stretching of the ligaments around the abdominal area. This is usually felt during the second and third trimesters. This should not be a continual pain, or associated with other symptoms. Sometimes gentle movement or exercise can relieve the pain.

Braxton Hicks contractions are experience by many women in their second and third pregnancy trimester. These are short contractions that can produce tightness and some cramping or slight pain, but will usually last only a few seconds and will not be regularly spaced, but intermittent. These are normal, but should be discussed with the doctor if accompanied by other symptoms.

Preterm labor can be a possible explanation for cramps at pregnancy period. Other things that may be associated with this are back pain and diarrhea. These symptoms definitely need to be brought to the doctor’s attention as soon as possible to help prevent pre-term delivery. Often times bed rest and sometimes medications can postpone the baby’s arrival until more maturity is developed.

Preeclampsia is a condition that can affect women during pregnancy and even afterwards. This is a severe medical problem that will need to be monitored. Cramps can accompany this, but most often it is noted with high blood pressure, swelling and sudden weight gain.

They say no pain, no gain. The same can be said of pregnancy. You can expect to have some aches and pains during the growth of the baby. Just be sure to have any chronic or severe pains checked immediately.

We also have specified prevention methods of cramps during pregnancy in our another article.