Stomach (abdominal) pain or cramps in pregnancy

Some pain and very light cramps in the stomach (abdominal) area in early pregnancy is not unusual.

Are cramps in pregnancy normal?

It’s completely understandable to worry about stomach pain in pregnancy and be anxious about this being a sign of miscarriage. But stomach pains or cramps are common in pregnancy and usually nothing to worry about.

Mild stomach pain in early pregnancy (during the first 12 weeks) is usually caused by your womb expanding, the ligaments stretching as your bump grows, hormones constipation or trapped wind. It may sometimes feel like a ‘stitch’ or mild period pain. It’s is probably nothing to worry about if the pain is mild and goes away when you change position, have a rest, do a poo or pass wind.

You may also feel light period-like discomfort or cramps at the end of your pregnancy. This is nothing to worry about, but call your midwife if you have any concerns.

When should I report stomach pain in pregnancy?

Stomach pain can be very worrying for pregnant women. Pain can make you fear the worst, such as a miscarriage. It’s important to listen to your own instincts. If you are worried about any pains you’re having, or you just feel like something is wrong, contact your midwife. Don’t be concerned about wasting anyone’s time. It’s always best to get things checked out.

If you are having persistent stomach pain (pain that won’t go away) or cramping, or if the pain comes on suddenly it should be checked by a doctor or midwife immediately.

What stomach pain and cramps should I look out for in pregnancy?

Most stomach pain and cramps in pregnancy are nothing to worry about. But there are some symptoms you should know about as they could be a sign of something more serious.

If you feel any of the following pains, even if you're not experiencing any of the other symptoms listed, call your midwife, doctor or hospital immediately.

Severe pain on one side of the lower stomach in early pregnancy
This pain could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. Other symptoms may include:

Severe cramps in your stomach with or without bleeding that lasts for several hours 
This could be a sign of a miscarriage or placental abruption.

Regular painful contractions/cramps before 37 weeks
This could be a sign of premature labour, especially if you also have:

  • either a slow trickle or a gush of clear or pinkish fluid from the vagina or any increase in vaginal discharge
  • backache that’s unusual for you
  • cramps like strong period pains
  • a feeling of pressure in the lowest part of your stomach (pelvis).

Severe pain in your stomach that doesn’t go away
This pain could be a sign of placental abruption. Other symptoms may include:

  • tenderness when you press your stomach
  • back pain with or without bleeding.

Pain in the upper stomach 

Pain just under the ribs is common in later pregnancy because your baby is growing and the uterus is pushing up under the ribs. But if this pain is bad or persistent, particularly on the right side, it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Other symptoms may include:

  • a sudden increase in swelling in your face, hands or feet
  • a very bad headache or a dull headache that won’t go away
  • problems with your vision, such as blurring or flashing lights
  • vomiting or just generally feeling unwell.

Pre-eclampsia usually develops in the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks). 

Lower stomach pain or dull back pain 

Call your midwife if you have this pain and one or more of the following:

    • pain or discomfort when weeing
    • a need to wee often (on its own this is common in a normal pregnancy)
    • a raised temperature  (over 37.5°C)
    • wee that smells bad, is cloudy or bloody
    • feeling sick (nausea) and vomiting.

These are symptoms of an urinary tract infection. It's not an emergency but should be treated as soon as possible.

What other kind of stomach pain should I expect?

Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions are a sign that the muscles of your womb are tightening. This can happen from as early as 16 weeks, but are more common in later pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks’ contractions are:

  • irregular (more than 10 minutes apart)
  • short-lasting
  • uncomfortable more than painful.

You do not need to contact your maternity unit or midwife unless your contractions become painful and regular (less than 10 minutes apart).

Contractions/cramps after 37-40 weeks could be a sign of the early stages of labour. This is called latent phase of labour.

Read about our pregnancy insider's experience of aches and pains during pregnancy.

Read more

Sources

NHS Choices. Stomach pain in pregnancy https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/stomach-pain-abdominal-cramp-pregnant/ (Page last reviewed: 01/05/2018. Next review due: 01/05/2021)

NHS Choices. Premature labour and birth https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/premature-early-labour/ (Page last reviewed: 29/11/2017. Next review due: 29/11/2020)

NHS Choices Pre-eclampsia https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pre-eclampsia/ (Page last reviewed: 07/06/2018 Next review due: 07/06/2021)

NHS (2017) Urinary tract infections www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/ (Page last reviewed: 12/12/2017 Next review due:12/12/2020)

NHS (2017) You and your baby at 33-36 weeks pregnant www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-weeks-33-34-35-36/ (Page last reviewed: 17/07/2018 Next review due:17/07/2021)

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    Last reviewed on September 28th, 2018. Next review date September 28th, 2021.

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    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Mara (not verified) on 6 Dec 2019 - 16:12

      Hi -My LMP 10/27 first day was pink then brown all the way through November in the first week stopped. No period at all after this had symptoms nausea/ sleepy all the time my sense of smell was ridiculous heavy breast and took test about 2weeks ago negative today 12/06/19 cramping and nausea no bleeding I have an appointment on the 12th but my pregnancy symptoms come and go is this okay?

    • By Cindy (not verified) on 4 Dec 2019 - 05:46

      Hey I just found out that I'm pregnant a week pregnant but I'm having pains like I'm going to be on my periods
      And they get worse each day
      Plz help

    • By sharlene (not verified) on 3 Dec 2019 - 23:48

      I have all pregnancy symtoms m last peperiod whas 30 oktober my heups lower back pain left side under my ribs pain I have cramps on my lower belly my lower belly feel very sensitive but the pregnancy test say negative now ifiI'm pregnant how far am I.

    • By sharlene (not verified) on 3 Dec 2019 - 23:39

      I have all the symptoms of pregnancy from lower packpain to cramps and everything but the test still negative and it had my last period the 30th oktober so if I am pregnant how far am I know


    • By Justme (not verified) on 30 Nov 2019 - 18:35

      Hi, I’ve had a cervical cerclage few days ago and I have gone through the usual symptoms mentioned by the doctor and midwife, but today I started to feel a bad pain in my upper stomach, and no one seemed to mention that possible pain. It feels like something is pressing me hard on my stomach. Is it some normal pain, or I should contact someone? Forgot to mention I am 15 weeks pregnant.

    • By Princess Gloria (not verified) on 30 Nov 2019 - 15:22

      I am 19 weeks. I am having a very severe pain in my lower abdomen and the right hand side of my stomach. And feeling the leg of the baby. I am in serious pain for three days now. I even when to the hospital yesterday to see my doctor and he says everything is OK that I should take only paracetamol. I am not not OK. I can't turn well,sleep well or stand. Please help me.

    • By Hlogi (not verified) on 29 Nov 2019 - 12:47

      Hi am experiencing painful pains in my stomach am 28 weeks I have swollen legs feel sleepy n have no appetite should I go to hospital or it's normal

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Dec 2019 - 11:21

      With any stomach pain at 28 weeks, we would advise that you go to be checked out. Best wishes to you x

    • By Julie (not verified) on 3 Dec 2019 - 22:17

      Hi. I'm. 29 weeks pregnant and from this morning iv been having stabing pains from my belly button down. Baby is very active but the pain is always there. Any advice??

    • By Nely (not verified) on 21 Nov 2019 - 15:31

      Hi I am 33 +weeks I’ve been having back and abdominal pain also feeling nauseous and diarrhea should I be concern ?

    • By Surashi (not verified) on 19 Nov 2019 - 14:01

      Actually my last period was on 30/10/2019 and i had sex on 9, 11and 13th november. I think that three days were the chances of ovulation.
      My problem is, i am suffering pain during urinating and having pain and distubance in my stomach.
      I cant eat well and also i have vomiting and some loose motion.
      I am confused about it. I can't understand whether it is early pregnancy symptoms or not... please help me

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 20 Nov 2019 - 10:30

      I had same problem too in my early pregnancy I’m now 11 weeks pregnant may you have chance that you are conceived just drink lots of water although you’re not willing

    • By Mercy (not verified) on 21 Nov 2019 - 09:34

      I havent seen my period going to two months now

    • By Ana Lanyon (not verified) on 29 Nov 2019 - 02:10

      Yes you are pregnant.and if you still have doubts about yourself get a pregnancy tester.as for myself im 36 weeks and 5 days and I'm due on the 22nd of December 2019. And this is my 11th preagnancy. So I hope for the best for you and your little bundle of joy in your preagnancy journey. Love Ana.

    • By Dani (not verified) on 2 Dec 2019 - 06:20

      My last period was October 31, 2019. I had unprotected sex on November 6, 2019. I found out I was pregnant November 27, 2019. So it’s definitely possible for you to have pregnancy symptoms and also find out if you are pregnant.

    • By Neo (not verified) on 5 Dec 2019 - 11:59

      Go to ur clinic and ask for multi vitamin

    • By Leanne (not verified) on 18 Nov 2019 - 11:25

      Hi i am 5 weeks pregnant and woke suddenly esrly hours of morning as had severe pain in my right side of lower stomach. Gradually getting worse. Went to the toilet as bladder was really full and stsrted feeling lightheaded sensation of needing to be sick . Was heaving but not physically throwing up. Pains were still quite persistent. They eventually went away and i was able to fall back to sleep. Since then have had no more pain but dont "feel" pregnant anymore. Is this just stretching pains or should i be worried. Have had no bleeding what so ever.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Nov 2019 - 12:42

      Hi Leanne
      One sided pain in early pregnancy can be a sign of possible ectopic pregnancy, so please go to a&e minors if out of hours, or get an emergency GP appointment for today, so you can urgently be referred to your nearest early pregnancy unit. Get yourself seen as quickly as you can!
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 16 Nov 2019 - 19:11

      I had my last period in 17 of September did a test in pctober found out i was 5weeks pregnant a week after a had bleeding similar to what my period would be talk to my doctor was told to do the ultra sound because of the bleeding the bleeding stoped that same night and stared back the nxt two days after i did the ultra sound and went on for 7 days after that I no longer felt pregnant till abt a week after went back to the doctor the did a blood test and that came back that I am pregnant so 3 pregnancy test positive at 5 weeks np sah no baby on ultra sound am 8 weeks now and all am feeling is on and off cramps n my breast a really tender and heavy ....am super confused as to what is happening and so is my doctor

    • By Nolubanalo ndzaba (not verified) on 16 Nov 2019 - 07:46

      Am 9weeks have pain in a tummy right side period pain and bck pain Is it normal cz am feeling pains

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Nov 2019 - 12:44

      Hi Nolubanalo
      One sided pain in early pregnancy can be a sign of possible ectopic pregnancy, so please go to a&e minors if out of hours, or get an emergency GP appointment for today, so you can urgently be referred to your nearest early pregnancy unit. Get yourself seen as quickly as you can!
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Blessing (not verified) on 15 Nov 2019 - 14:56

      Please I am 6 weeks 4 days pregnant I have a very bad abdominal pain, the pain is too much un my right side and back pain and light yellow discharge what do you think.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Nov 2019 - 12:32

      Hi Blessing
      Severe pain and unusual discharge in pregnancy, at any gestation is abnormal and you should seek urgent medical review if you have not already done so. You can go to a&e minors if the pain is severe. If it is not too severe, please go to your GP who can then refer you to your local early pregnancy unit for review. Please take good care of yourself. Tommy's Midwife

    • By Simnikiwe (not verified) on 15 Nov 2019 - 07:32

      I was having pain than last week sunday I went to buy pregnancy test than its shows positive..but yesterday at night I went to the toilet I saw blood wich was red and put pads than today when I wake up went to the toilet again it was dark brown.. should I be worried

    • By Kris (not verified) on 12 Nov 2019 - 23:35

      Hi i am 3 weeks pregnant, im a stage four adenomyosis patient with marina iud and im consuming danazol at the same time... i have this lower adominal and Servier lower back pain and work me up every morning around 3am and i cannot go back to sleep. I hv mild headach any dizziness but no vomiting... is this normal for the first born?

    • By Moipone Agnes (not verified) on 12 Nov 2019 - 19:53

      I'm 3 weeks pregnant I have stomach cramps and I feel uncomfortable to sleep on my left side it's like my tummy it's full of wind. Is there something wrong?

    • By Lizzy (not verified) on 12 Nov 2019 - 12:57

      Hi,am 10weeks gone, have been having this abdominal pain for about three days and blood stain but I called my midwife she told me that it's just stretching during pregnancy,she told me to have bed rest but am still having the pain, what might be wrong?

    • By Ayomide (not verified) on 7 Nov 2019 - 17:56

      Am 2 weeks pregnant am having abdominal pain ,I saw little blood due to too much of stress , immediately I inform my nurse she gave me injections and the blood stop immediately,but the abdominal is paining w

    • By Rose (not verified) on 25 Oct 2019 - 15:10

      Each time I do a blood test it shows positive in the hospital, but when o get back home and do a urine home test it shows negative

    • By mirable (not verified) on 23 Oct 2019 - 07:13

      my last menstration was 28th of august 2019 I was suppose to see the next one by 25th of September but it didt co.me, I felt the signs of pregnancy, and I deed a pregnancy test which came out positive,now pls I want to know how many weeks is my pregnancy am confused .

    • By Swati (not verified) on 14 Nov 2019 - 03:47

      Your last menstruation date is 28th August. That is what midwife will count. U r 2months and few days pregnant.

    • By Bliss (not verified) on 20 Oct 2019 - 13:43

      I am 2months pregnant but feeling weird pains at d lower part of my abdomen making me feel week, dizzy and eye turn don’t know what to do, I have bought drugs as prescribed by the doctor and yet no changes what should I do?

    • By Rebecca (not verified) on 1 Nov 2019 - 15:50

      Hi dear, am also experiencing the same issue and am 3 months pregnant, the pain feels like that one when you are about to have your periods. They also come with the headache and that dizzy /weak like feeling. At times I just cry cause I don't know what is actually wrong with me, it's been a couple of days and I have not been to the doctor yet.

    • By Rebecca (not verified) on 19 Oct 2019 - 09:14

      I'm 11 weeks pregnant and I've been experiencing sharp pains in my right abdominal side for hours now. Should I go to the hospital?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Oct 2019 - 10:37

      Sorry, we are not here at the weekend to respond to these comments. Yes it is important to check out this pain. I hope you have already done so or that the pain has gone away. Best wishes

    • By Katy (not verified) on 31 Oct 2019 - 14:23

      If it’s on the top of the groin right hand side under tummy I was getting that too the whole way through the 12 weeks it’s stopped now tho but think it’s just stretching as midwife wasn’t worried

    • By veneshia (not verified) on 7 Nov 2019 - 08:29

      i need help please

    • By zeenat (not verified) on 14 Oct 2019 - 13:17

      I'm 3 months pregnant and know 1 to 3 weeks I feel something similar to heartbeat in my upper abdomen and sometime back pain and I have ulcer but if I eat food and take omeprazole the thing stop,what do you think is happening to me

    • By Tracy (not verified) on 17 Oct 2019 - 04:47

      If I was you I would get checked out to be safe.

    • By Zandile (not verified) on 5 Oct 2019 - 19:58

      Hi,should I go to the hospital if i am feeling pains on my womb and on my waist and stomach is very tense in such a way I feel like going to the toilet but nothing

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Oct 2019 - 12:36

      Hi Zandile
      If you are pregnant and having abdominal pains at any gestation, then yes, please visit your maternity unit- Tommy's Midwife

    • By Stacy (not verified) on 27 Sep 2019 - 04:36

      I have had unprotected sex an took morning after pills after. My last period was on the 31 of June so I was waiting for my periods by July 30th or 31 but I didn't get them.. So I found out that I'm pregnant. Now my question is does this mean that the pills I took were not effective why did they fail to work? Please make me understand.

    • By mabel (not verified) on 14 Oct 2019 - 19:47

      I think one way or the other we ovulat
      e twice in a month but don't av any idea what so ever. it could be you ovulated after taken the pill ones again.

    • By LaHoma (not verified) on 20 Oct 2019 - 03:38

      Also, if you take the morning after pill everytime or even a lot, they don’t work. It states that online idk about in the packet that comes with it as I’ve never taken them.

    • By Pj (not verified) on 31 Oct 2019 - 06:50

      Sams thing happen to me but that's cause i used it 4 times within afew months so my body was immune 1 it may be thats what happend or took it to late

    • By yenye (not verified) on 23 Sep 2019 - 21:03

      hi i had a ultrasound by 8 weeks now i am 16 weeks and haven't had one since and not having one till next week is that ok? i haven't been to any genealogist only for an ultra sound.

    • By chizzy (not verified) on 21 Sep 2019 - 09:03

      I missed my period for 2months+ & i did a test negative & was having a pain in my lower abdomen & breastedness & tirednss pls could dis be pregnant help

    • By Nisita (not verified) on 2 Sep 2019 - 16:57

      My 1st day of the last period was on 31st July 2019. . My menstrual cycle is within 28-30 days.. We had unprotected sex on 12,13 and 14th July. After 28 days, i started suffering from lower abdominal pain and feel like vomiting and weak.. The lower abdominal pain hasn't said lower it's 34th today..Is this a sign of pregnancy? Please suggest something

    • By Laura (not verified) on 18 Aug 2019 - 23:35

      Hi
      I am 9+3 weeks pregnant and I have been getting a stitch like feeling when standing in my left side, this is not in my lower abdomen it's more in my side above my hips is this normal? We had a miscarriage in march so v v nervous

    • By Sarah (not verified) on 12 Sep 2019 - 19:58

      I am the same and very worried hope your okay x

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