Early Pregnancy Cramping: When Should You Be Worried?

Cramping During Pregnancy

Early-pregnancy cramping is a common source of concern for many women. Some women may be concerned that this is an indication that their pregnancy is unviable and that a miscarriage is imminent. Fortunately, this isn’t the case all of the time.

Cramping is very common in the first trimester of pregnancy. And, for the most part, normal.

Implantation Cramping:

What It Is?

In the first few weeks of pregnancy, implantation cramping, oftentimes accompanied by implantation bleeding, occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of your uterus. This happens about six to 12 days after conception, or about two to three weeks before your period is due. For some women, this can be a very painful experience. Others may only feel mild discomfort or nothing at all.

What Does It Feel Like?

Implantation cramping is usually described as a pain that feels like menstrual cramps. Some women also report feeling sharp, stabbing pains in their lower abdomen. These pains can range from being mildly uncomfortable to quite severe. They typically last for one to three days.

When Does It Occur?

Implantation cramping usually occurs around the time of your missed period. However, it can occur as early as six days after conception or as late as 12 days after conception. If you experience cramping that starts earlier than six days after conception or lasts longer than 12 days after conception, it’s possible that it’s not related to implantation.

What Causes It?

Implantation cramping is caused by the fertilized egg attaching itself to the lining of your uterus. When this happens, your body releases chemicals that can cause mild cramping and discomfort.

How Long Does It Last?

Implantation cramping typically lasts for one to three days. However, some women may experience cramping for a longer or shorter period.

Is It Normal?

Yes, implantation cramping is a normal part of early pregnancy. It’s also important to remember that not all women experience implantation cramping. Some women may only feel mild discomfort, while others may feel nothing at all.

Should I Be Concerned?

For the most part, you don’t need to be concerned about implantation cramping. However, if you’re experiencing severe pain or cramping that lasts for more than a few days, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider. They can help to rule out any other potential causes of your symptoms. If the cramping is persistent or too severe for you to bear, it may not be “normal,” and you should seek medical advice.

Round Ligament Pain:

What It Is?

Round ligament pain is a common and normal pregnancy symptom that you may start to experience in the second trimester. Round ligament pain is caused by the stretching and growing of your uterus as it adjusts to accommodate your growing baby. This can cause sharp, shooting pains or a dull ache in your lower abdomen or groin.

What Does It Feel Like?

Round ligament pain is typically described as a sharp, shooting pain or a dull ache in your lower abdomen or groin. The pain may be constant or it may come and go. You may also notice that the pain is worse when you move around or change positions.

When Does It Occur?

Round ligament pain typically occurs in the second trimester, but it can also occur in the third trimester.

What Causes It?

Round ligament pain is caused by the stretching and growing of your uterus as it adjusts to accommodate your growing baby. This can put pressure on the round ligaments that support your uterus, causing them to stretch and pull.

How Long Does It Last?

Round ligament pain typically goes away on its own within a few days or weeks. However, some women may experience round ligament pain for a longer period.

Is It Normal?

Yes, round ligament pain is a normal pregnancy symptom. However, if you’re experiencing severe pain, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Should I Be Concerned?

For the most part, you don’t need to be concerned about round ligament pain. However, if you’re experiencing severe pain, you should contact your healthcare provider. They can help to rule out any other potential causes of your symptoms. If the pain is persistent or too severe for you to bear, it may not be “normal,” and you should seek medical advice.

When should I be concerned about pregnancy cramps?

Cramping in the early stages of pregnancy is usually nothing to be concerned about. You could feel better knowing that if moderate pregnancy cramps do arise, your body is most likely preparing as it should keep the pregnancy going.

If you’re experiencing severe pain or cramping that lasts for more than a few days, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider. They can help to rule out any other potential causes of your symptoms. If the cramping is persistent or too severe for you to bear, it may not be “normal,” and you should seek medical advice.

The following are some of the possible causes of atypical cramping:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Preeclampsia
  • Bladder infection or urinary tract infection

But, as usual, if you’re concerned or think your cramping is out of the ordinary, consult your doctor.

Relief from pregnancy cramps

There are a few things you can do to find relief from pregnancy cramps. First, try placing a heating pad on your lower abdomen or back. You can also take a warm bath or take over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen.

Normal pregnancy cramps can be relieved in several different ways. In most cases, it’s just as simple as changing positions or lying down for a few minutes to get some rest.

Cramping is sometimes a sign that you are stressed or overexerting yourself. It is beneficial to both the body and mind to take a few minutes for yourself. Use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing or meditation to calm yourself down.

Most women find that taking a bath every night helps them feel better. You can also find relief from your aches and pains by applying a hot water bottle. Some doctors also suggest wearing an elastic belly band. If you’re still experiencing pain, contact your healthcare provider for further advice.

Could I Be Pregnant?

This could be wonderful news if you’re trying to conceive! Compare your symptoms to other Early Signs of Pregnancy. If you believe you might be pregnant, today’s Home Pregnancy Tests can give you a positive answer as soon as a week before your period is due. If you’re not ready to buy a pregnancy test yet, use our Due Date Calculator to figure out when you last ovulated. That will also provide you with some insight!

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Sources:

Additional Reading

Merck Manual for Professionals. Pelvic Pain During Early Pregnancy.

Zachariah SK, Fenn M, Jacob K, Arthungal SA, Zachariah SA. Management of acute abdomen in pregnancy: current perspectives. Int J Womens Health. 2019;11:119-134. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S151501

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