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 Bissy (not verified) on 24 Jan 2020 - 10:53

      im 14week 6 days i have pregnant i wws nausea hradach eating too much suddenly fell smell i do the hpt it was negative went to sonar still negative the 1 first 1 i dd was positive my stomuch have line in my tummy i was always ready to sleep bt then after 3 months im better im feel normal my tummy poop out n my heads are pale

    • By Chiamaka (not verified) on 20 Jan 2020 - 18:37

      Am having lower abdomen pain back pain breast pain and also feeling weak what could be the cause

    • By Tosin Beatrice (not verified) on 21 Jan 2020 - 17:28

      I do have pain round my waist, right from my abdomen to my back. Then I feel pains in my nipples

    • By Ester (not verified) on 17 Jan 2020 - 07:57

      Um 4 month and two week pregnant and i um having a painiful on my abnomial when um sitting it start from yesterday ,,, what s the causes of it

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 12 Jan 2020 - 14:42

      I'm cramping and I'm 12 weeks. Is this normal

    • By Dakota (not verified) on 10 Jan 2020 - 21:16

      Hi I'm 8 weeks pregnant with my second child. I have been constipated some and I finally was able to go a little but I got a sharp pain in my right side that hasn't went away for about an hour. And I can't finish using the restroom as I guess I still have some constipation. What should I do? Should I be concerned?

    • By Carla (not verified) on 21 Jan 2020 - 17:07

      Hello I'm 9weeks 6 days an I've had sharp pain there once or twice two but after I do go look it does go away eat least bread pasta an more fruits vegetables especially bananas an any wheat products have been helping me too go on a daily basic I've cut our white bread. All together. X

    • By Nwabugo Elizabe... (not verified) on 6 Jan 2020 - 05:23

      I had sex on 19, 20, and 21 December which were my ovulation days. Took a blood test on 28 December and it proved positive. My breast feels slightly heavier by the day but I don't feel anything when I press my lower abdomin

    • By Clare (not verified) on 10 Jan 2020 - 19:34

      It’s common not to feel anything. The pregnancy is so early it’s unlikely you’ll feel anything for a good few weeks yet.

    • By Martha (not verified) on 10 Jan 2020 - 23:57

      Hi I just pass my period but my stomach is boileted and I have back pain and my breast is awlaways full is that a sign of pregnancy

    • By Ayana (not verified) on 4 Jan 2020 - 17:27

      Hi, I am 6 weeks and I am having severe cramping. It hurts to move, I am also a little constipated. I am scared something is wrong. What should I do?

    • By Sadie bug (not verified) on 19 Jan 2020 - 04:39

      I couldn’t find an answer anywhere on this but I’ve already moved past that stage and I’m healthy and fine. I believe what that is is the beginning stages of your uterus tearing and expanding. Basically preparing to grow a baby...

    • By Miriam (not verified) on 3 Jan 2020 - 16:44

      I'm 2weeks pregnant but I'm seeing my period and my right Lower abdomen is paining me

    • By Pratibha (not verified) on 16 Jan 2020 - 12:51

      Kindly get yourself checked for ectopic pregnancy.

    • By analie (not verified) on 20 Jan 2020 - 23:11

      the pain will lost and then come back at night during sleep and now.whole day aching slightly

    • By Keeley (not verified) on 2 Jan 2020 - 01:00

      Done a test faint line had a light period no pains T first then pain in my left side that cum an go bleeding not loads an sickness is this normal

    • By Abbie Angel (not verified) on 18 Jan 2020 - 09:53

      If you’ve had a positive test and are experiencing any pain and cramping/pain in you stomach back or even shoulder tips i would advise you to call your GP, early pregnancy unit at the hospital or if it is heavy bleeding and externally painful go straight to a&e. Most women have some cramping and spotting that can be normal but can also be a sign of something more serious that needs medical treatment. These places are there to keep you and baby safe.

    • By olaitan (not verified) on 27 Dec 2019 - 15:48

      please have been seen all the sign of pregnancy like tenderness of breast, swollen breast,back pain that made me so happy that am pregnant, until this morning when am having sex with my husband and my lower stomach started paining me and blood came out till now am still feeling stomach pain my period is still coming out. please can I still get pregnant through all this.

    • By Jasmond (not verified) on 26 Dec 2019 - 08:29

      Hello. I had my last menstrual cycle november 1st and as of late have been ona 34 days cycle. I shouldve started on the 5 of December. I have never been more than a week late. I have been taking Urine HPT and I also took Blood test at hospital at 15 days late and came up negative. I have tender breasts on the sides, mostly apparent after sitting for long period of time or sleeping, tingling through and and down towards nipple, my stomach feels bloated, first noticed when i thought my pants came up over my belly button at night and then realized i didn't have pants on , I feel a pulling sensation around the belly button, and like now can notice and feel my lower abdomen/ stomach, i have been having very mild cramps since before my missed period that are frequent through the day but very mild, watery cervical fluid, but still has a stickiness to it , some left side cramping but goes away , very gassy (mainly burping ) , and EXTREMELY fatigued, have been having trouble staying awake. IT took my mom 3 months before they doctors would believe her when she was pregnant, and that was through ultra sound.. I know some women have little to no HCG, but i have NEVER missed a period this long in my entire life and i am 30 years old. I have other symptoms but those are the main ones, I don't know what to do and havne't been able to have ultra sound yet :( Sorry for the lengthy message but don't know what to do! Thanks in advance!

    • By Cassandra (not verified) on 24 Dec 2019 - 13:51

      Hi. I gave birth to my baby 3 months ago in September it's a boy, it's just that these past few weeks I have been having a white discharge which is itchy and my vagina is swollen, I have been to the clinic and reported it but they have me some pills and it didn't help but nowadays i have been feeling something moving in my tummy by my ribs it's as if it's a baby moving i don't know what to do please help

    • By Vivian (not verified) on 20 Dec 2019 - 10:51

      Hi
      I had sex before my period and after see my period, 5 days later I start feeling pain at am lower side of my stomach and also bleeding, and if I want to pee it will pain me what is cause of that

    • By Rachel (not verified) on 19 Dec 2019 - 08:04

      Hello I'm 3 months pregnant and for the past two days I've had upper abdomen pain all in my muscles like over done a serious work out and lots of sit ups, it doesn't come and go its constant should I be very worried

    • By Aimee (not verified) on 1 Jan 2020 - 16:32

      Hello, I have had this same thing the last two days. Mind it upper and lower, you nailed by saying like a work out cramp but more severe. I was wondering if you found out why or if it went away? Sorry that you had this.

    • 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 Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Dec 2019 - 07:01

      Hey did you get it checked out? Hope it was nothing to concerning. Tbh I've been having the same too

    • By TK (not verified) on 11 Dec 2019 - 11:14

      Hi l felt exactly the same during the 1st 3 weeks of pregnancy as if my period is about to come lm 10 weeks preg now

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 1 Jan 2020 - 21:49

      It's normal in early pregnancy because your uterus is expanding for the growth of your baby

    • By Nongcebo (not verified) on 4 Jan 2020 - 05:11

      I felt exactly the same thing around the time i expected my periods. Sometimes they would get so severe like im about to get my periods. That was during week 3 and 4. Now it has gotten better and im 8 weeks pregnant. Hope you're feeling better too.

    • 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 Anonymous (not verified) on 12 Dec 2019 - 07:47

      I don't believe it's pregnancy It could be something else going on like gas

    • 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 Ruth (not verified) on 18 Dec 2019 - 18:39

      Please talk to a doctor or a midwife to make sure everything is fine.pain is normal but severe pain is a cause for worrying so please don’t delay

    • 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

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