Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy
21.02.2017 Andrew Johns 1 Popular
Abdominal Pain in Pregnancy
Is it possible to have abdominal pain during pregnancy? It actually is possible and happens quite often. Most often abdominal pain is caused by physiological changes, and though it can cause a slight discomfort to a future mom, it’s quite normal. Some pains can be even pleasurable for some moms. So what actually causes those pains?
Stomach Pains in Early Pregnancy
Pains in lower abdomen during pregnancy can be divided into two groups according the reasons of their occurrence: obstetric and non-obstetric.
Non-obstetric pains include those provoked by gastrointestinal tract’s problems, stretching ligaments, surgical diseases (appendicitis) or overexertion of ABS muscles. Obstetric pains are those which involve the threat of termination of pregnancy, early placenta detachment, or an ectopic pregnancy.
In any case, only a professional can determine the pain’s nature and reason. However, you can be absolutely sure that everything is perfectly normal, if you have the following signs in early pregnancy:
However, be careful about changes that undergo in your body during first months of pregnancy. Pain in the abdomen might be caused by a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage in people).
Causes of Pain in Late Pregnancy
In late pregnancy, pains in the abdomen aren’t always caused by a threat of a miscarriage or any pathology. There can be several reasons.
The first reason is the wrong diet or schedule of meals, which causes cramp of the digestive system accompanied by pain. The same symptoms are proper for disbacteriosis and colitis. Thus, the intestines copes badly with poorly treated food, stale foods, abundant meals, which causes bloating. When the digestive process ends, such a pain goes away, but it tends to return. In such a case, you need to carefully review your diet and meal times.
Don’t forget, that close to the birth, the growing uterus squeezes the intestines. Moreover, hormonal changes put the double burden on the intestines. During this period, the motility and peristalsis are reduced. Constipation is also quite frequent, and it causes pulling pain in the lower abdomen. Recall that in order to prevent constipation you should consume more products containing raw fiber, drink enough water and walk outdoors.
The second reason is ligaments’ stretching. Ligaments support the uterus. The increasing uterus causes ligaments’ stretching. And in late pregnancy, this often causes gentle spasms in the lower abdomen, or painful sensations on one or both sides of the belly. Such a pain is more pronounced when you change positions, laugh, sneeze. It is sharp, but goes away quickly. In addition, such symptoms can be accompanied by stretch marks’ appearance on the abdomen.
The third reason of abdominal pain in pregnancy is excessive load on your ABS. Such painful sensations often occur during or after physical exercise. To avoid it, simply take a rest and relax.
The fourth cause is intestinal obstruction, appendicitis or pancreatitis. Despite the fact that such reasons are quite rare, if you have such symptoms as growing stronger pain, fever, nausea and dizziness, be sure to call an ambulance. You might need a surgery.
The fifth cause are gynaecological problems testifying of improper pregnancy course and health problems.
The sixth reason is the threat of miscarriage. Pain in the lumbar area often feels like contractions and doesn’t go away without drugs intake. If it's a premature termination of pregnancy, pain will be accompanied by vaginal discharge varying both in color (from light-brown to bright red) and in abundance. In such a case, immediately consult your doctor, this might be essential to save the baby.
The seventh reason is the premature detachment of the placenta that may occur either in late pregnancy or immediately before the birth. This condition can be triggered by physical overexertion, injury of the abdominal area, specific diseases (hypertension, toxemia, etc.). Severe pain in the lower abdomen accompanied by uterine bleeding is explained by the fact the placenta detachment triggers vessels’ rupture. Such a condition is dangerous for both the baby and the woman, so immediately call an ambulance. Most likely an emergency delivery will be required.
Acute Pain in Pelvic Area
The uterus is held between the hipbones with connective-tissue ligaments. During pregnancy the uterus increases its weight causing the ligaments to stretch, which creates abdominal pain. Usually that kind of pain can be felt in the lower abdomen near the pelvis.
Usually this pain happens when a woman changes her body position (for example, turning too quickly), lifts a heavy weight or even sneezes or coughs. All that causes a sharp but short painful sensation that wears off on its own.
This pain can happen on any stage of the pregnancy. Sometimes they can happen less often or even disappear towards the end of the pregnancy. This abdominal pain is harmless for a future mom and her baby and doesn’t need to be treated.
Dragging Pain in Lower Abdomen
The hormones produced during pregnancy affect the gastrointestinal tract so that food travels more slowly. That causes overdistension in some parts of intestinal tract and constipation. A woman can feel a dull aching pain in the sides of the lower abdomen (often in the left side) and have gas.
The discomfort disappears as soon as the food is digested but can happen again if a woman doesn’t stick to a healthy diet. To avoid constipation, one needs to drink more water, eat fermented dairy products and foods rich in fiber (raw vegetables, fruits, whole grain bread). A good way to combat constipation and abdominal pain is to have some moderate physical exercise.
During the pregnancy the body produces a special hormone called relaxin. That hormone influences the cartilage, ligaments, and bones of pelvic floor. This hormone softens the ligaments of the hipbones, which allows them to stretch to make it easier for the baby to travel through the pelvic ring during the delivery.
More often it’s the symphysis pubis joint that moves and causes pain in the lower abdomen. The pain can vary from minor sensation to a more intensive one. It can be triggered by walking, changing your body position, sitting on a firm surface, walking up the stairs or lifting your legs while lying down.
A bandage can help reduce the pain. Another way of fighting this type of pain is a big soft fit ball that can be used instead of a chair. A visit to an osteopath can also be of help.
Starting in the 2nd trimester, a pregnant woman might experience an abdominal tightening, a condition when the uterus feels as hard as a stone. It can last from a few seconds to up to couple of minutes and happen up to 10 times per day. Those are practice contractions (Braxton Hicks contractions). This type of contraction is not too painful, but still can cause a discomfort and scare a future mom. It’s quite normal to have Braxton Hicks contractions: this is the way your body is preparing to the baby birth.
Baby Kicks Pain
In the second part of the pregnancy baby grows very fast. It can't move freely in the uterus anymore. The baby's movements are less frequent but more intense and powerful. Those baby kicks can cause discomfort or even pain in the hypochondriac quadrant or lower abdomen (especially if the bladder is full). As unpleasant as they are these pains are natural and harmless.
When you experience painful baby kicks try to change your body position: bend forwards, get up, lie down on your side. Relax and take a couple of deep breaths, rub your belly and talk to the baby asking him to relax. Sometimes it's all what it needs.
How to Relieve Pain?
When you feel pain, sit down, pull legs forward and relax. If you rest, the pain will quickly go away.
You can also do the following:
When to See a Doctor?
Although light pain in the abdomen is normal for pregnant women, severe pain or cramps could testify of a serious problem. Severe pain can be caused by intestinal infections, food poisoning, urinary tract infection, appendicitis, kidney infection, kidney stones, gall bladder diseases or pregnancy complications (such as pre-eclampsia). If you have severe and/or persistent pain, consult your doctor immediately!
The same should be done if you have the following symptoms:
- strong intestinal colic;
- vaginal bleeding/spotting;
- fever or chills;
- dizziness and weakness.
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New Health Advisor
Your body will undergo so many changes during pregnancy. You experience these physical and emotional changes due to an imbalance of hormones. Due to these changes, it is quite common to have muscle and joint pain. Many people experience knee pain in early pregnancy mainly because of increased body weight. If you already have joint pain, expect it to become worse during pregnancy. In fact, it may feel as if your joints have become loose. Let’s find out what you can do about the whole situation.
Reasons for Knee Pain in Pregnancy
Knee pain in early pregnancy hits most women, but it can be significant or relatively insignificant at times.
- In some cases, your knee pain is actually the result of an injury and not the effect of your changing body. When that is the case, your knee pain can be quite significant and cause serious discomfort. You should seek immediate medical attention if you have started experiencing knee pain after a strain, fall, or injury.
- Considering how soft your joints become in pregnancy, a minor injury can cause serious problems. However, your knee pain is not always the result of an injury to the joint – any injury to the ligament can make you feel uncomfortable. Any injury to the soft tissue or ligaments of the knee can cause a dull pain, but it can become sharp when you move in a way that exacerbates the injury.
- Sometimes, your knee pain is not the result of any serious injury, but is the result of you walking or standing for a majority of the day. Since your bodyweight will go up during pregnancy, standing or walking for extended hours is going to leave you with aching knees, legs, and feet.
Hormonal Changes May Also Be the Cause
While knee pain in early pregnancy is usually the result of increased bodyweight, you may experience the same in your third trimester due to hormonal changes. Your body releases certain hormones that loosen up the pelvic tendons and ligaments to prepare you for childbirth. However, the effects of these hormones are not limited to your pelvic region, but you may also notice them in tendons and ligaments around your knees. This makes it difficult for the kneecap to track right, causing you to deal with some pain.
Home Remedies That Help to Manage the Pain
It is normal to experience some knee pain during pregnancy, and you usually do not need to do anything to change things. However, if your knee pain is quite significant and is affecting the quality of your life, you may want to try some home remedies to make your condition more manageable.
You should stay active throughout the pregnancy and even perform low-impact exercise regularly. Swimming or moderate walking can do the trick. These exercises strengthen your quads and support your knees at the same time. Stronger quads will compensate for the loose tendons and ligaments in the knees and prevent knee pain.
2. Get Off Your Feet
You should give your feet some rest when you start gaining body weight quickly. You should prop your feet up whenever you can to help ease your knee pain. If you start doing it in early pregnancy, you may not have to deal with knee pain at all.
3. Get Appropriate Shoes
You should go for well-cushioned shoes only and ensure that they provide you with ample arch support. These shoes will help absorb shock to your knees and avoid knee pain in early pregnancy.
4. Keep Your Bodyweight Under Control
Gaining too much weight too quickly is not only bad for your knees and joints, but it can also affect the health of your baby. You should put on 25-35 pounds during pregnancy if you had a normal weight before pregnancy. If you are overweight before the start of your pregnancy, do not put more than 15-25 pounds through pregnancy.
5. Make Use of a Knee Brace
You can wear a knee brace, which comes with a doughnut-hole in the middle to provide some support to your loose tendons and ligaments around the knee. Regular use may help control your knee pain.
Lower back pain before your period: Is it a pregnancy symptom?
Ovulation is over. You’re in the dreaded “two week wait”, impatiently waiting for testing time, when you start to notice a dull sort of pain in your lower back.
Could it be … an early pregnancy symptom? Or has your body just found another “interesting” way to let you know that your period is on its way once again?
We’re sorry: there’s no way to tell.
Lower back pain can indeed be a very early pregnancy sign.
What causes lower back pain in very early pregnancy?
Backache is actually a relatively common early pregnancy symptom. Unfortunately, it’s also a relatively common symptom of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome).
Whether you are pregnant or not, the cause is the same: hormones.
In the second half of any menstrual cycle, after ovulation, your body produces plenty of a hormone called progesterone.
One of its main functions is to ensure that your uterus builds up a nice, thick lining of blood and nutrients, ready to welcome a fertilized egg.
Progesterone also has relaxing properties. This is important, because it loosens the muscles in your fallopian tubes, facilitating the egg’s entry into your uterus. It also relaxes the uterus itself, preventing contractions which might disturb the implantation of the egg.
This relaxing effect also extends to muscles, ligaments and joints in the pelvic area, and this is why you might get lower back pain just before your period — or before you miss your period.
If you have conceived, your levels of progesterone will be higher than in non-conception cycles when the day of your expected period approaches. Unusual hormone-related symptoms—like backache—might therefore be a promising sign, but only a missed period and/or a positive pregnancy test can really give you the answer.
Other possible causes of lower back pain
Besides a spike in progesterone, whether you are pregnant or not, here are some other possible reasons why your lower back is aching.
If the pain is rather acute, a muscle or ligament strain is the most likely explanation. If you have lifted something heavy, made a sudden movement or twisted your back, it may have caused small stretches or tears.
Sciatica is another type of lower back pain which has nothing to do with pregnancy. It’s typically felt on one side only, and often radiates to your buttock or leg. Sitting or standing still makes it worse, while walking might provide some relief.
An ovarian cyst (a fluid-filled sac that grows on your ovary) can also cause discomfort in the lower back. Ovarian cysts are very common. They are mostly harmless, often symptom-free, and usually disappear by themselves. A large cyst, however, can cause persistent or intermittent pain in the pelvic area that may spread to the lower back and thighs.
If your back pain is sharp or stabbing, or if it persists after your period has started, consult your physician for proper diagnosis and treatment. Pregnancy will put a strain on your back in the best of cases, and you don’t want to head into it with an existing back condition if you can avoid it.
How to alleviate your lower back pain
If the pain turns out to be pregnancy-related, you’re probably more than happy to endure it. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to get some relief, however. Just make sure you don’t do anything which wouldn’t be safe, should it turn out that you are indeed pregnant.
If if hurts bad enough that you consider taking a painkiller, make sure to choose a drug that’s safe to use while you’re trying to conceive, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
This is important!
Certain painkillers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including any drug containing ibuprofen, can make your uterine lining less favorable for implantation. You don’t want that to happen, back pain or not! (By the way, ibuprofen can also inhibit ovulation, so stay away from it altogether for as long as you’re trying for a baby.)
Many women find that heat offers some comfort — try a warm bath, a heating blanket or a heating pad. The “cat stretch” yoga position, where you stand on your hands and knees and slowly arch you back, can also help ease the pain.
And even if you’re feeling sleepy and sluggish towards the end of your cycle (thank you very much, progesterone and your relaxing properties!), women who exercise regularly are less likely to experience period pains of all kinds.
If you already have a workout routine, just continue as usual. If not, this might not be the right time to start marathon training, but some easy walking, swimming or biking—whatever you most enjoy—might help you feel better.