Is cramping normal?
As your baby grows, the added pressure on muscles, joints, ligaments and surrounding body parts can lead to cramping and pain.
Knowing when and why cramps are likely to happen can help you know what is a normal part of being pregnant and when to see your doctor.
What causes cramps?
- Ligaments are the tough strings or bands of body tissue that connect your bones to each other
- Ligament cramps can happen any time while pregnant, and are most often felt between weeks 14 and 20
The normal sources of cramps are the bands of tissue that surround and support your womb. As your baby grows, these bands of tissue stretch. When you change positions, you'll sometimes feel them cramp up on one or both sides of your belly or toward your back.
What to do
- Lay down on your side until it goes away
- A hot water bottle may also help
- Often these cramps go away quickly with rest
Cramps during sex
- Can be both during and after sexual climax
These cramps happen because more blood flows to your pelvic zone when you're pregnant; this, along with more blood flow to your sex organs, can result in cramping and a low backache.
What to do
- Try to relax
- Cramps during sex most often go away quickly
- Ask your partner to give you a lower back rub
Braxton-Hicks contractions (false labor)
- Can happen as early as your fourth month
- Most often happen in your sixth or seventh month
- Feel like the mild cramps you might get during your period
- Can last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes
- Will become stronger and more frequent as you near your due date
This is your womb tightening in what are called Braxton-Hicks contractions (named after the doctor who identified them). These "practice" contractions are getting your womb ready for the hard work of pushing your baby out when you're ready to give birth.
What to do
- Lay down
- Shift positions
- Get up and walk
A change of position may be all it takes to ease these pains.
If you can't tell whether you're in labor or having Braxton-Hicks contractions, be sure to call your doctor. You doctor needs to make sure you are not going into premature labor.
You should also call your doctor if you go through any of these signs:
- More than four contractions in an hour
- Pain in your back, belly or pelvis
- Unusual vaginal discharge/flow
Go to the emergency room if you have these signs:
- So much vaginal bleeding that you need to wear a pad
- Blood clots or grayish discharge on your underwear
- Pain in your lower stomach that becomes worse and stays on one side
- Sudden, sharp stabbing pains in your lower belly
Seek urgent health care if you have:
- Very bad pain
- Bleeding that precedes or happens along with pain
- Nausea, vomiting, dizziness or faintness with more pain and bleeding
- A mild to very bad tender or sore feeling over one or both of your Fallopian tubes
- A change in vaginal discharge/flow
- Very painful pelvic pressure, or the feeling that your baby is pushing down on your pelvis
- A low backache that is not sharp and may travel to your belly
- Cramping that feels like the cramps you get during your period
- Stomach cramps with or without loose stools
- Any of the above signs as well as a change in your baby's movement
Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs:
- Bleeding with pain or cramps in your lower belly
- Nonstop, very bad pain even without bleeding
- Bleeding that is like a heavy period
- Light bleeding that lasts for more than three days
- A pink or brown discharge from your vagina
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