Updated: 2018, Sep 29

Cramping During Pregnancy: Is It Normal?

By - Reviewed by CHD Team
Cramping During Pregnancy

The first three months is the most crucial stage of human pregnancy, since it is the period of fetal growth and development. Not only this is a critical period for the baby but also for pregnant mothers in view of the fact that life-threatening complications are more expected during this time. One of the complications experience by expecting mothers is abdominal cramping.

Is Cramping Normal During the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

The answer is yes.

Abdominal cramping is a sensation characterized by sharp, intermittent contractions in the abdomen that is often associated with pain. While abdominal cramps can be a warning signal that something is wrong in the body, 25% of expecting mothers experience abdominal cramping associated by slight bleeding which is a denotation that the fertilized ovum has implanted the uterus.

What are The Causes of Cramping in Pregnant Mothers?

The following are cause of cramping during the first trimester:

  • Implantation Cramping: Implantation cramping occurs between 8 and 10 days after ovulation.
  • Stretching of Uterus: Ligaments that support the uterus expand to accommodate the growing uterus, thus causing abdominal cramps.
  • Constipation: Pregnant mothers who have reduced and hard bowel moments often experience uncomfortable cramping.
  • Miscarriage: Unusual cramping episode accompanied by bleeding is a pathological cramping and may indicate miscarriage.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition that affects mothers during the first trimester. Signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are left-side abdominal pain, stomach cramps and bleeding.

Can Abnormal Cramping be a Concern? Does it indicate a Miscarriage or Ectopic pregnancy?

As delineated above, abnormal and unusual abdominal cramping can signify a serious health problem, miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy in particular.

When a pregnant mother experiences cramping, seeing a doctor may be a too-early step. Instead, do self-assessment. Record the time and frequency of abdominal cramping and trace all the possible sources or causes of it. If cramping and pain persist for long periods especially when bleeding is present, go to a doctor and seek medical help. Pathological cramping may indicate miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

How to Ease Cramping During Pregnancy?

To take the sting out caused by cramping, there are a number of natural remedies that can provide relief. Traditional mothers take herbs to ease cramping but doctors strongly do not recommend it since herbal preparations may harm the baby and cause premature uterine contractions. Depending on the nature of the pregnancy, doctors advise mothers to get bed rest and limit activities at home, although some pregnant women report significant improvement of the symptom when they walk around and do low-impact workout.

Other remedies of abdominal cramping include drinking lots of water, taking how showers, using heat compresses and performing light massage.

Pregnant mothers experience abdominal cramping as a normal sign during the first trimester of pregnancy but this can be otherwise a signal of an underlying problem. If cramps become intense and accompanied by severe bleeding and pain, or if one thinks she is not pregnant, consult a doctor immediately.

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