What You Should Know About Pregnancy Cramps.

Woman holding stomach
Pregnancy cramps could have a myriad of causes. Although they are usually a normal part of gestation, they are rarely an indication of a problem for you or your baby. Here are some of the causes of gestational cramps and how you should address them.

Non-Fatal Causes

Did you know that implantation can also cause cramping? This occurs when a recently fertilized egg attaches itself to your uterine wall. These benign cramps are typically mild. First trimester cramps are also common as your developing baby stretches your uterus.

If you’re experiencing tummy cramps when you move around or sneeze, it may be caused by the pressure placed on your ligaments, with the expansion of your uterus. This so called “round-ligament pain” may also occur during your second trimester.

Round Ligament Pain is typically felt as a brief piercing pain in your abdomen or hips. Pain may also radiate to your groin. Cramping here occurs when your round ligament, which joins your groin to the uterus, is stretched by sneezing, coughing or sudden movement. This type of discomfort should improve when you stop moving around.  To play it safe, you should make an appointment to see a provider if discomfort does not improve with rest or persists.

You should also see your doctor when cramping is accompanied by vomiting, nausea, fever, bleeding, or chills.
Non-serious cramping can occur due to sexual intercourse, flatulence, diarrhea, or constipation.

When to call the doctor:

YOU SHOULD CALL THE DOCTOR IF YOU HAVE BLEEDING AT ANY TIME DURING PREGNANCY.  YOU SHOULD ALSO CALL THE DOCTOR IF YOU ARE HAVING CRAMPING THAT IS WORSE THAN YOUR TYPICAL MENSTRUAL CRAMPING.

Spotting and cramping in early pregnancy may be warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy, where the pregnancy is implanted in the fallopian tube rather than the uterine cavity.  As an ectopic pregnancy grows, the tube may burst and cause dangerous internal bleeding.  Ectopic pregnancies can be treated with medication when they are small, but require surgery when they are larger.
Pregnancy cramps infrequently can have more serious causes. Some of these could be dangerous. In early pregnancy, cramping that accompanies heavy bleeding is often a sign of miscarriage.
In the third trimester, upper abdominal cramping can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

Treating Mild Cramping with Self-Care

Minor cramps and twinges in early pregnancy often will improve with an increase in rest and hydration. Mild cramping and round ligament pain during the second trimester will often improve with these measures also, but you should contact the doctor if they do not.
Breathing exercises are a great way to relax your muscles. Cramping is sometimes aggravated by dehydration, so make sure you’re drinking enough water. Applying warm compresses may help also – or you can try a warm tub.
Severe cramping, accompanied by bleeding should never be taken lightly. Contact our office immediately should you have more significant symptoms..