reasons for abdominal pain during pregnancy

What causes abdominal pains during pregnancy?

The journey to motherhood for a pregnant woman is not always a bed of roses. While she enjoys the little beautiful movements of realizing her baby’s fluttering movements and hearing her baby’s first heartbeat, the pain and bodily changes she undergoes are tremendous. 

Most pregnant women experience mild, subtle pain in the upper abdomen that recedes after some time. But at times, the pain can be sharp and achy. Most pains or cramps during pregnancy are normal and nothing to worry about. While some pains can lead to serious conditions. 

This article further explores the various reasons for abdominal pains during pregnancy that you need to take care of and the normal pains that most pregnant women observe. 

Feel free to skip ahead if one topic catches your eye:  

  1. Serious Reasons of Abdominal Pain in Pregnancy
  2. Which abdominal pain during pregnancy is normal
  3. FAQs


Serious Reasons of Abdominal Pain in Pregnancy 

Acute constant pain during pregnancy calls for something serious. If you are experiencing severe pain during pregnancy, a careful medical examination and ultrasound are performed to rule out one of the following serious conditions.

  • Ectopic Pregnancy: Ectopic pregnancy is a condition where the embryo implants itself outside the uterus. Pain caused due to ectopic pregnancy is often accompanied by,
  • Vaginal bleeding 
  • Pain in the shoulders
  • Discomfort during urination and excretion

Pain during ectopic pregnancy is more towards one side of the abdomen and usually occurs 6 to 8 weeks after the last menstrual period (LMP). The ectopic pregnancy pain can be persistent or inconsistent that goes on and off. 

  • Braxton-Hicks contractions: Braxton-Hicks pain occurs in the third trimester and is often referred to as “false” or “practice contractions” similar to labor. However, these pains, unlike labor, are not progressive and are likely to cause normal uterine contractions for a few minutes. They are irregular and highly unpredictable.
  • HELLP syndrome: HELLP syndrome is expanded into Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelets. Generally seen in pregnant women after being diagnosed with preeclampsia- a sudden rise in blood pressure during pregnancy likely to cause organ damage, especially liver and kidneys. It is estimated, almost 15% of women diagnosed with preeclampsia can develop HELLP syndrome.  
  • Other possible reasons: Other possible reasons for abdominal pain during pregnancy can be:
  • A sign of miscarriage or preterm pregnancy loss where abdominal cramping accompanied by bleeding before 24 weeks of pregnancy.
  • A sign of preeclampsia where constant pain on the right side usually occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy or immediately after childbirth. Other symptoms of preeclampsia include swollen hands and feet, vision problems, severe headaches.
  • A possibility of premature labor if regular abdominal cramping occurs in less than 37 weeks.
  • Urinary tract infections are common among pregnant women where along with abdominal pain, women observe pain while urinating. 

When to see a doctor?

Most of the abdominal pains during pregnancy subside and disappear on their own. And if needed, heat pads can help relieve these short-lived pain symptoms. However, it is necessary to keep a watch on the type of pain you get during pregnancy. You will need to reach out to your doctor in the following conditions. 

  • Severe stabbing pain in the abdomen and back
  • Pain worsening during the night or while resting
  • Pain with inflammation, swelling, and redness
  • Pain while urinating
  • Persistent abdominal contractions before 37 weeks 
  • If you notice a decrease in the baby’s movements, especially after 28 weeks of pregnancy
  • Pain with vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea 
  • Pain accompanied by vaginal leakage or bleeding.
  • Severe headache, fever, and vision problems 

Your doctor can better understand the causes of abdominal pain in pregnancy and guide you through a healthy pregnancy.  

Which abdominal pain during pregnancy is normal? 

Abdominal cramps are seen during the early pregnancy days. These are mild period-like aches in the lower abdomen. Most women also experience mild, dull pain in the abdomen during the second and third trimesters. Here are the reasons for such abdominal pains during pregnancy.

  • Pregnancy gas pain: Gas and bloating are common during pregnancy. This pain can extend from the abdomen to the back, chest, and shoulders. Increased progesterone during pregnancy is linked to gas and flatulence. Progesterone causes the food to take a longer time to pass through the intestines and colon causing gas formations. 
  • Constipation: Hormonal fluctuations, lack of exercise, anxiety, low fluid, and dietary fiber intake during pregnancy are some of the reasons for constipating pain that can be sharp and acute.
  • Round ligament pain: The two ligaments run from the uterus through the groin supporting the uterus. These ligaments stretch with the expanding uterus to accommodate the growing fetus. While causing dull pain in the groin, hips, and abdomen, these round ligament pains are prominently seen during the second half of the pregnancy especially while sneezing and coughing.  


  • Can baby position cause abdominal pain?

Many women experience slight pain in the abdomen when the baby changes position, and this pain is unlikely to cause anything serious. However, when the pain does not subside even after the baby stops moving, you may have to check with your doctor. 

  • Does abdominal pain mean a miscarriage?

Mild, dull pains are normal during pregnancy. But, if you undergo severe cramping or pain in the lower abdominal region before week 24 of pregnancy with vaginal bleeding, it may be because of a preterm pregnancy loss or a miscarriage. You will need to reach out to your doctor immediately. 

  • How many days does abdominal pain last in early pregnancy?

Early pregnancy cramps are a lot more similar to normal period cramps. These pains are typical in the lower abdominal region and last for a few minutes during the early pregnancy. This pain is generally experienced during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. 


Abdominal pains during pregnancy can be normal due to various reasons. Mild pains are a result of expanding ligaments and uterus to accommodate the growing baby, increasing hormones, constipation, gas, and bloating. However, it can be concerning when the pain is severe, accompanied by other symptoms like vaginal bleeding, fever, nausea, and headaches. 

Connect with us at Mulberry for your concerns. At Mulberry, your Problems will be regarded with great expertise and care. We have the best facilities and staff to give you comprehensive gynecological treatment and care.

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