Early in pregnancy, experiencing pain can make you feel anxious. There might be questions in your mind about whether or not the pain is one of those normal early pregnancy pains or if it is a sign of an impending miscarriage. Even though sharp pains in early pregnancy can sometimes indicate problems, mild and occasional cramping early in your pregnancy is normal and in no way indicates miscarriage. Many women fear pregnancy cramps, so it’s important to understand normal early pregnancy pains, the common reasons for their occurrence, and what you should do about them.
Is It Normal To Have Pains During The Early Stages Of Pregnancy?
The majority of expecting women, especially first-time mothers, wonder whether it is normal to get pains in early pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body undergoes many changes in order to accommodate a growing fetus. Although some of these changes may seem inconsequential, others, such as cramps, may cause you to look for their causes on health websites.
Pregnancy cramps are not always a sign of a serious problem. Some cramps may simply be a symptom of your growing body. Although cramps similar to period pains are normal in early pregnancy, pain accompanied by spotting or bleeding and sharp pains in early pregnancy should be reported to your doctor.
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9 Normal Early Pregnancy Pains
When you ask “are stomach pains normal during early pregnancy”, the answer is yes. During the first 16 weeks, most women will experience some mild (light) cramping intermittently. The following are some of the normal early pregnancy pains. While you need to worry about many of these pains, you need to monitor some of them more closely and report them to your doctor as soon as possible.
1. Breast pain
For some women, breast pain is the first noticeable effect of pregnancy, and it can show up within 2 weeks of conception. It is very common early pregnancy pain. In fact, breast pain–tenderness is reported in 76·2% of pregnancies during the first trimester1. But breast changes are a common symptom of both PMS(Premenstrual syndrome) and early pregnancy. How do you differentiate breast pain in early pregnancy from PMS breast pain?
Pregnancy-induced breast pain and soreness can be much more intense than PMS-induced pain. Moreover, pregnancy-induced breast pain can last for much longer than PMS-induced pain. It’s normal to experience a painful breast during the first trimester since your body is inundated with hormones.
2. Implantation cramping
It is not uncommon for women to experience cramps during the process of the fertilized egg attaching itself to the uterine lining. These cramps are called implantation cramps. For some women, implantation cramps indicate the beginning of pregnancy. Implantation cramps are often mistaken for premenstrual cramps by many women. During implantation cramps, a woman may feel as if her period is about to start. However, unlike premenstrual cramps, implantation cramps are characterized by prickling, pulling, and tingling sensations. Not every woman experience implantation cramp or implantation bleeding during early pregnancy. Women who experience this early pregnancy pain may experience mild to moderate cramps2.
Implantation cramps rarely last more than a few days. The pain may last only a few minutes. Some women experience cramping that subsides and return after a couple of days. Women who are expecting will often feel the sensations in their lower backs, lower abdomens, or even in their pelvic region.
It should be noted, however, that even though only one of your ovaries releases an egg, the cramping is caused by its implantation in the uterus. This is why you may feel it more in the middle of your body rather than just one side of it.
Related Reading: 18 Early Signs Of Pregnancy Before Periods
3. Stomach pain due to gastrointestinal issues
It is common for pregnant women to experience gas and bloating. Progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles in the digestive tract, is responsible for this. As a result, digestion is slowed. Pregnancy-related bloating and gas as well as constipation can bring on crampy feelings in your abdomen. Pregnant women may also experience stomach pain caused by gastroesophageal reflux3.
4. Abdominal pain due to uterine growth
It is common to experience abdominal pain during the first two trimesters of pregnancy due to the rapid growth of the uterus. Your uterus won’t grow or expand much during the first few weeks of pregnancy. To accommodate your baby’s increasing size, the uterus must stretch and expand. During the 12th week of pregnancy, the uterus grows to the size of a grapefruit. Women who are pregnant with twins or multiples may feel their uterus stretching sooner.
As a result of uterine stretching, pregnant women may experience twinges, aches, or mild discomfort in their lower abdominal area. The pain can sometimes feel like a sharp shooting pain on either side of your stomach. Also, these pains may radiate into your leg and down your thigh. Pregnancy symptoms like this are normal and a sign that everything is progressing normally. We recommend a few home remedies for abdominal cramps during pregnancy. If you experience cramping & spotting, tell your doctor immediately.
5. Pain due to ectopic pregnancy
A pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus is referred to as ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition. 1 to 2 percent of all pregnancies ends in ectopic pregnancy. The fallopian tube is the most common site of ectopic implantation. Ectopic pregnancies can occur in a variety of locations, including the cervix, ovary, fallopian tube, abdominal cavity, myometrium, or within the surgery scar4.
In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, an expectant woman might experience sharp, stabbing, or chronic pain in her abdomen or uterus. The most common symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include cramps, bleeding, light-headedness, and shoulder pain. In case of symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, consult your doctor immediately. Hence, severe pain in the lower abdomen of one side of a pregnant woman warrants medical attention.
6. Pregnancy headaches
Almost all pregnant women experience headaches occasionally during their pregnancy journey. However, getting a headache early on in pregnancy can be frustrating and that’s where our home remedies for headaches during pregnancy are very effective. Hormonal fluctuations and increased blood volume may contribute to headaches in the early pregnancy. Stress, fatigue, and eyestrain can all lead to a dull headache.
Early pregnancy is characterized by nasal congestion and a runny nose. This can lead to sinus headaches. Moreover, hunger and low blood sugar (as a result of morning sickness) can also cause headaches in pregnant women. When pregnant women stop drinking soda or coffee suddenly, they may experience withdrawal headaches. In early pregnancy, those who experience nausea and vomiting are likely to become dehydrated. Dehydration during pregnancy can also cause headaches5.
7. Pregnancy heartburn or indigestion
According to a source thirty to fifty percent of pregnant women complain of heartburn. Hormone fluctuations slow digestion, weaken the stomach sphincter and push stomach acids upward. There may be a burning sensation or a sharp pain behind the breastbone when you suffer from heartburn. Another common complication of pregnancy is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)6. It can lead to a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which can be severe at night and even cause chest pain.
GERD, acid reflux and heartburn are related but different. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. GERD, on the other hand, is a condition marked by severe acid reflux.
8. Urinary tract infection (UTI)
In pregnant women, the risk of urinary tract infections usually increases from the sixth to the 24th week of the first trimester due to changes in the urinary tract7. If sharp pain or cramping is experienced in the lower abdomen in conjunction with any of the other UTI symptoms, then it may be an indication of a UTI.
It is important to identify UTIs on time and treat it promptly as it is one of the common complications during pregnancy & delivery. Incontinence, frequent urination, fever, discomfort or a feeling of urgency when urinating, blood and/or mucus in the urine are other symptoms of UTIs.
9. Pelvic pain
Early in pregnancy, many women have pelvic pain. This pain occurs at the bottom of the torso, in the area below the abdomen, and in the area between the hip bones (pelvis). The pelvic pain may be severe and sudden, persistent and dull, or a combination of the two. Temporary pelvic pain is generally nothing to worry about. This happens when ligaments and bones shift and stretch to accommodate the growing fetus.
Early pregnancy pelvic pain is also associated with miscarriage, making it one of the danger signs of pregnancy to watch out for. Ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy that is outside the uterus, is the most serious cause of pelvic pain in early pregnancy. Seek immediate medical attention if pelvic pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as vaginal bleeding leading to dangerously low blood pressure.
When Should I Worry About Pain During Early Pregnancy?
Despite cramping often being common, pains during early pregnancy can also have some more serious causes. Any cramps during early pregnancy that are severe in intensity, occur at regular intervals, and get worse over time is abnormal. Moreover, any cramping that is associated with vaginal bleeding, increased/watery discharge, or abnormal pelvic pressure is not normal. Seek immediate medical help if you experience any of these symptoms.
Preeclampsia, urinary tract infections, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy are some of the most common causes of abnormal cramping, and all require medical attention right away.
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What Should I Do For Mild Cramping While Pregnant?
Keep a close watch on how regular your cramps are and how often you feel them. As long as they do not intensify or become more frequent, they do not fall into the abnormal category. It is possible to ease mild cramps by taking certain steps. Take a warm shower, practice deep breathing, utilize relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or controlled breathing, stay hydrated, and stay physically active. All this helps to alleviate mild, normal early pregnancy pains.
Pregnancy pain is not always an indication that something is wrong with the pregnancy. If there is bleeding or spotting along with the pain, you need to contact your doctor. When a woman is pregnant, she can experience pain in the abdomen due to many different reasons, many of which have nothing to do with pregnancy. You can consult your doctor at any point during your pregnancy to determine whether you need medical attention.