The journey of motherhood starts right from the first day of conception. This journey is no less than a roller-coaster ride. At one moment it can take you to different height of happiness and excitement and the very next moment can bring you down to a state of tension and worry.
One such situation which can bring stress and lead to anxiety is the cramps; experienced in different forms throughout the pregnancy. In most of the cases, these pregnancy pains and cramps are normal and do not indicate any serious problem. However, there are certain situations wherein it might require a medical intervention. In this article let us explore why do you get cramps during pregnancy? When is it normal and when you need to seek help?
Table Of Contents
Cramps During Pregnancy - What Does It Feel Like?
Pregnancy cramps or pregnancy pains can be explained as pulling sensation felt either on one or both sides of the abdomen. After conception; once the uterus begins to grow it causes mild discomfort. The discomfort comes in the form of moderate cramp in the lower abdomen or lower back. It might feel like stretching, mild pressure and even feel similar to the typical pain witnessed during menstruation.
Abdominal Cramps In Early Pregnancy - Is It Normal?
They say the womb during pregnancy expands from the size of a plum to the size of a watermelon. The liquid holding capacity goes to the level of 5 litres from 10 ml. During such tremendous changes which are accompanied by hormonal changes as well, it is perfectly normal to experience abdominal cramps in early pregnancy and throughout pregnancy as well. However, if the pain is accompanied by certain other conditions it would be prudent to seek medical advice. Those warning signs are discussed in the latter half of the article.
Why Do You Get Cramps During Pregnancy?
Though cramps and pain during pregnancy are common and are not indicative of any serious conditions it would be interesting to find out why do you get cramps during pregnancy. Let us try to discover what causes cramping in pregnancy trimester wise:
1) Early pregnancy cramps - First trimester
2) Cramps during second trimester of pregnancy
3) Third-trimester pregnancy cramps
Causes Of Cramps During Early Pregnancy - First Trimester
Have u ever felt a strange sensation in your belly or a bloated and unusually tired feeling? If yes, then you are not alone, there are many others who feel the same because cramps during early pregnancy are common. Many consider cramping as an early sign of pregnancy.
The reasons for this abdominal cramp in early pregnancy could be:
‣ Cramps caused because of implantation of a fertilized egg to your uterus.
‣ The immense change which your body is undergoing in order to accommodate the growing fetus. The uterus starts expanding and continues to do so throughout each trimester to accommodate and make space for the baby resulting in abdominal pain.
[Also Read: Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy]
‣ Hormonal changes also start showing up in the form of gas, bloating’ constipation etc. All this might lead to discomfort, mild pain and cramps.
Cramps During Second Trimester Of Pregnancy
Of all the three trimesters; the second trimester is considered to be the most comfortable one. Hormones, the belly and the body learn to make peace with each other. Though much trouble is not experienced by most of the expectant mothers, there is still some percentage of women who do experience pregnancy pains during the second trimester as well. This is again normal. The possible reasons for it are:
‣ Round Ligament pain: Round ligament is a muscle which supports the uterus. When this ligament stretches you might feel a sharp stabbing pain for less than two minutes. Breath easy, there is nothing alarming.
‣ Pain caused due to the continued growth of uterus: as the uterus continues to stretch in the second trimester as well, you might experience dull and achy pain on either side of the abdomen. This is again normal.
‣ If you are pregnant with twins, you might feel pain during second trimester since the body is trying to make extra spaces for the babies.
Third-trimester Pregnancy Cramps
Though there are some causes of pain during pregnancy (third trimester) which are discussed below, it is advisable to seek doctors consultation if you feel any abnormal sensation pain or cramp in the abdominal region during the third semester.
Possible causes of third-trimester cramp could be:
‣ Increased pelvic pressure caused due to a final growth spurt leading to pain
‣ Braxton Hicks Contraction: they are also known as practice contraction or false labour pains. They feel very much similar to labour pain except that they are short-lived (20 to 30 seconds). They are irregular, uncomfortable and unpredictable. You can experience these hicks as early as in second trimester. They are also not alarming and they usually subside or stop after a while.
‣ You might feel pain if you undergo some kind of strenuous exercise or lift some heavy object. It is always better to get involved in yoga or strenuous exercises under the guidance of a professional. Also, refrain from lifting weights.
‣ Cramps after sexual intercourse: Uterine contraction or cramps during pregnancy are also experienced after an orgasm by some. It is normal if the pain is not too sharp, doesn't last very long and is not accompanied by any bleeding. Please visit your doctor if you experience the above-mentioned symptoms.
Pain And Cramps During Pregnancy - When To Worry?
You must seek doctors consultation if you witness any of the below-mentioned symptoms:
‣ A serious, persistent pain during pregnancy that does not subside
‣ The watery discharge which continues to increase in frequency and volume and does not get better even when you take rest.
‣ One-sided cramping accompanied by pain in the shoulder and neck. Also, a constant urge to use the washroom. This might be an indication of ectopic pregnancy.
‣ Vaginal cramping with bleeding in early pregnancy. This might be a sign of miscarriage.
‣ Lower abdominal pain and pain while urination might be a sign of UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)
‣ Abdominal pain, cramping and increased pressure during the late third trimester could be a sign of preterm labour
[Also Read: Do You Get Cramps When You're Pregnant]
How To Get Relief From Normal Pregnancy Cramps?
‣ Change your position and get some rest
‣ Take a hot water bath
‣ Drink plenty of fluids
‣ Practice deep breathing, yoga, meditation to de-stress yourself
[Also Read: Pregnancy Yoga - Everything You Need To Know]
‣ Place a hot water bottle at the sight of the pain
‣ Ask someone to give a gentle rub on your lower back
Getting cramps in pregnancy is very common and normal. Various causes and possible reasons for why do you get cramps during pregnancy is discussed above. There are situations where the cramps could be a sign of something serious. It advised seeking medical consultation in such situations.