Could I Be Pregnant If My Stomach Hurts – Experiencing aches and pains in the stomach and hips? Here’s what might be behind your discomfort and how you can ease the pain.
My most visceral bout of pregnancy stomach aches woke me up in the middle of the night. I was 3,000 miles from home on vacation, six months pregnant with my first child and unable to sleep after two bouts of pain in my right side. It felt like something inside had been ripped apart, though it only lasted a second or two.
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I held my breath – my husband was snoring beside me – and I waited there, waiting some more. I didn’t bleed, I didn’t have a fever or headache or any other symptoms. As soon as the pain went away and no healthcare provider was within reach to call, I did my best to rest.
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It wasn’t until my next OB appointment a few weeks later that I found out I had round ligament pain, a common pregnancy discomfort that occurs as the uterus expands. By itself, ligament pain is not worrisome. But what about other abdominal pain during pregnancy? Cramping or severe tenderness along with nausea, bleeding, headaches or a host of other symptoms may indicate a condition you need to get checked out. Read on to learn more about stomach aches during pregnancy and what to do.
Ligament pain, marked by sharp pain in the abdomen, groin or groin, usually occurs during the second trimester as the uterus stretches and the ligaments that support it stretch. It is one of the most common causes of abdominal pain during pregnancy and can be quite distressing, sometimes worsening with prolonged sitting or standing. “Your uterus goes from the shape of a lemon to the shape of a watermelon—which hurts,” says Meredith Alston, MD, an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and an ob-gyn at Denver Health Medical Center.
• Constipation. Because of the way progesterone slows down your GI tract, pregnancy can make constipation worse, Alston says. You probably know what it feels like: constant abdominal pain and fewer than three bowel movements a week.
• Heartburn. GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is also caused by your system slowing down and your growing uterus pushing against your stomach, especially in the third trimester. Your stomach may feel sour and acid may cause heartburn as it pushes up into your esophagus.
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• Gastroenteritis. Pregnancy does not make you immune to stomach worms. If nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea accompany your abdominal pain, call your doctor. Untreated symptoms can lead to dehydration or premature labor.
Special conditions of pregnancy that appear with abdominal pain during pregnancy are scary to read and think about, but, fortunately, they are very rare. They may include:
• Ectopic pregnancy. Usually diagnosed before pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy is one that occurs outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. According to Alston, it is characterized by pelvic pain and abdominal pain with light or heavy vaginal bleeding.
• Miscarriage. Pain in your lower abdomen with abdominal cramping or spotting can indicate a miscarriage, which occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy.
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• Placental abruption. Detachment of the placenta from the side of the uterus can be caused by trauma — a fall, a car accident — but it can also happen alone, Alston says. It can cause abdominal pain during pregnancy, possibly accompanied by back pain or contractions.
• Preeclampsia. Alston warns that sudden and severe indigestion with pain in your upper right quadrant may indicate preeclampsia, a disorder characterized by high blood pressure.
• Premature delivery. Abdominal pain during pregnancy can be the beginning of contractions. “You have waxing and waning pain—that’s what contractions do,” says Alston. “We get concerned when patients feel their uterus is tightening, going and going, if they’re 37 weeks early.” You may also have bleeding or fluid leakage.
• Cholestasis. If you have intense itching without a rash — and perhaps nausea and pain in the upper right abdomen — you may have cholestasis of pregnancy, a liver problem. It is rare and more likely to occur in the third trimester.
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• Triple-I transition. Intrauterine infection (chorioamnionitis) occurs when bacteria travel from the vagina to the uterus and infect the membranes surrounding the fetus, says Carrie Terrell, MD, division director for obstetrics, gynecology, obstetrics and family planning at the University of Minnesota. Symptoms include fever, tender stomach and fast heartbeat.
• Appendicitis. It occurs in about one in 1,500 pregnancies, according to a 2011 study, usually during the first two trimesters. Symptoms are similar to those for women who are not pregnant: sudden pain on the right side of your lower abdomen or around your belly button that may worsen when you cough or walk; nausea and vomiting; Loss of appetite and low fever.
• Kidney infection. Fever, chills, and back, hip, and abdominal pain during pregnancy can indicate a kidney infection, which, if left untreated, increases the risk of giving birth to a low birth weight baby.
• Ovarian torsion. It’s rare, but sudden pain on one side of your lower abdomen may indicate that one of your ovaries has twisted, cutting off its own blood supply.
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While musculoskeletal growth and stretching can be extremely painful in the lower half of your body, it’s not uncommon and it doesn’t take more than a visit to your doctor’s office to find relief. However, you should never hesitate to call your doctor or midwife for any abdominal pain during pregnancy.
“Generally, in all trimesters, we take abdominal pain seriously,” says Terrell. “It could be a sign of underlying or other ongoing issues and we want people to be evaluated.”
It’s important to know if your abdominal pain is severe, persistent and accompanied by any vaginal bleeding or a fever above 100.4, says Ronia Gordon, MD, OB/GYN assistant and clinical professor at NYU Langone. Health in. New York City. Finding out after you’ve been examined that your pain is not a sign of anything serious is better than leaving a potentially serious condition untreated, which could harm you and the baby in the long run.
“You carry this watermelon around and your back and abs don’t like it,” Alston says. For growing pains in the mill that can strike at any time — usually in the second or third trimester when your bump gets bigger — you can take a warm bath, apply a heating pad to the abdomen or side, or take Tylenol. (Once you’ve been cleared by your provider), she says. Staying active—walking or doing other light exercise—can also help reduce abdominal pain during pregnancy.
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Meredith Alston, MD, is an associate professor of ob-gyn at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Denver Health Medical Center. He earned his medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine in 2003.
Carrie Terrell, MD, is an ob-gyn and division director for obstetrics, gynecology, obstetrics and family planning at the University of Minnesota. He earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1995.
Ronia Gordon, MD, is a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Health in New York City. He earned his medical degree from The Ohio State University in 2015.
Please note: Bump and the materials and information contained therein are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult a qualified physician or health professional regarding your specific circumstances. Pregnancy is often an exciting time in a woman’s life, but it’s also a time full of strange new physical symptoms or experiences. Bloating is a symptom that many women experience during pregnancy.
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There are many reasons for abdominal or abdominal tightness during pregnancy, and these may vary depending on the trimester.
There are many reasons why a woman may feel her abdomen tight during the first trimester of pregnancy, including:
Stretching of ligaments and other tissues can cause abdominal pain or sharp, stabbing, or shooting pain near the abdomen.
Gas pain is a very common problem during pregnancy. This can cause cramping or pain in the abdomen, and it can be very painful.
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Constipation is also a common complaint in early pregnancy. Pregnancy hormone changes can slow down the gastrointestinal tract.
Also, the iron in some prenatal vitamins can harden stools and make it difficult to go to the bathroom. Both gas and constipation can cause abdominal cramps at times.
Rarely, abdominal cramps can indicate a miscarriage, which is the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks.
However, miscarriage before the 12th week of pregnancy is very common. Other symptoms of miscarriage include:
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Miscarriage symptoms vary between individuals and, in some cases, a woman may have no symptoms at all. It is important for a woman to have regular prenatal care in early pregnancy so that she
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