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)

Hide details

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

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No

    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 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 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 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 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

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 15 Oct 2019 - 12:30

      I have experienced this a lot it is normal

    • By Con (not verified) on 15 Aug 2019 - 21:57

      My partner is 24.5 weeks pregnant and having consistent pain in upper abdominal area any advice what it could be or what I could do would be greatful pain that bad she can't move or stand

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Aug 2019 - 16:01

      Your partner should contact her maternity unit as soon as possible for urgent assessment of this pain as it is constant and she cannot move or stand

    • By Rach (not verified) on 17 Aug 2019 - 09:28

      I had nasty pains from gall stones in my last pregnancy. The pain was sort of upper abdomen between my ribs and also shooting through to my back. I ended up going to the hospital where the stone passed on it’s own (it felt like I was tearing in half!) then I was perfectly fine again. It took several doctors to figure out what it was though. Any pain is worth looking into, keep getting second opinions until you find an answer, particularly if your partner can’t focus on anything else.

    • By Marie (not verified) on 13 Aug 2019 - 21:46

      10 weeks pregnant pains in my right side of my tummy and back is the normal or should I get it check out

    • By Dee (not verified) on 9 Aug 2019 - 20:10

      I'm 17 weeks pregnant with my second child, I've been having abdominal pains since the beginning of this pregnancy, consulted, done sonar , they just can't find anything wrong. I struggle to sleep @ night, can't sit for long, can't stand for long, it's getting worse by day. That's my 1st experience to this pains, was ok with my 1st pregnancy...

      #worried#

    • By Happpiness (not verified) on 6 Aug 2019 - 22:51

      Am just 6 weeks pregnant and am having abdominal pains and cramps like menstural pains is it normal please I need an answer??

    • By Jennifer (not verified) on 13 Aug 2019 - 22:18

      Am just 5weeks pregnant and I’m feeling pain/cramps as if my period is coming
      Is it normal And when will i stop feeling such way??

    • By Sana (not verified) on 16 Aug 2019 - 22:38

      I am 5weeks pregnant same I got pain cramps I been t doc cause I was worried they checked they go it’s normal in pregnancy so don’t worry

    • By Ruth (not verified) on 26 Aug 2019 - 17:29

      Hi did you ever have it sorted out?

    • By Becky (not verified) on 29 Aug 2019 - 03:58

      It is normal as I had it with all my pregnancy even the one I'm carrying now it's common in early pregnancy your uterus is stretching in preparation for birth if you are worried go to your nearest epu center contact the doctor or midwife if you have been assigned one yet

    • By Edna (not verified) on 24 Jul 2019 - 21:26

      I'm 7 to 8 weeks pregnant I started bleeding yesterday I was scared I went to see my doctor he gave some injections after some minutes the bleeding was heavy,I went to another midwife she gave me vitamin k injection so the bleeding stop but now I don't bleed heavily again,I want ask if I and my baby is okay?

    • By Anthonia (not verified) on 17 Jul 2019 - 11:52

      I had an unprotected sex two days before my ovulation, and now I feel hot in my chest and my stomach, could this be pregnancy symptoms?

    • By Hannah (not verified) on 2 Aug 2019 - 16:47

      Since you had sex 2 days before your ovulation... It's sign that you may be pregnant, but the best option is for you to for pregnancy test.

    • By Phumzile (not verified) on 15 Jul 2019 - 17:58

      I miss my period date on the 10th of July bt now I hv cramps I feel tired always nd I hv lose of appetite

    • By Tracy (not verified) on 18 Jul 2019 - 20:50

      Most likely it may be that you are pregnant. But to be sure , take home pregnant test.

    • By Linniey (not verified) on 27 Jul 2019 - 12:28

      Just found out m pregnant was feeling how you are feeling after missing my period

    • By Britania (not verified) on 5 Aug 2019 - 15:25

      You are most likely to be pregnant

    • By Sinead (not verified) on 11 Jul 2019 - 18:18

      Hello on Wednesday i took a test and was positive i took on today and was negative i been having really bad pains in my stomach since yesterday what should i do?

    • By Hosea (not verified) on 9 Jul 2019 - 06:45

      am just 3 weeks pregnant and have pain is it ok..

    • By Youseline (not verified) on 8 Jul 2019 - 07:46

      I'm pregnant 6 weeks l have pain on lower stomach and back it normal guy's

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 29 Jul 2019 - 17:54

      I’m also 6 weekS day 1 and experience period like mild cramping on my lower abdomen and back. They go away and come back! I believe it is the uterus stretching and making room for baby. As long as u don’t have brown discharge or heavy bleeding.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Jul 2019 - 17:07

      Hi looking for an advice, after 3 days of my menstrual i had sex so after 2 weeks i feel pain in my abdomenal an a week is this a sign of early pregnancy?

    • By Thabie (not verified) on 5 Jul 2019 - 15:53

      I missed my period on 5 June starting having cramps in 4 weeks back,back pain nausea vomiting,i also had upp tummy pain even my right side ,and my abdomen was painful.But now it's the left sight near my abdomen and my thy is weak and having headache.Today I took pregnancy test and it became positive does it mean I'm having miscarriage

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 3 Jul 2019 - 14:26

      last month I miss my period n toda

    • By Kemi Abdulazeez (not verified) on 1 Jul 2019 - 19:18

      Having pain in my lower abdomen and this come last and go like 10 min between and I’m just 14 weeks pregnant
      Is there something I should be worried about?

    • By Rink (not verified) on 29 Jun 2019 - 20:25

      My 1st day of the last period was on 1st june 2019. . My menstrual cycle is within 28-30 days.. We had unprotected sex on 12,13 and 14th june.. After 4-5 days, i started suffering from lower abdominal pain and feel like vomiting and weak.. The lower abdominal pain hasn't said lower it's 28th today..Is this a sign of pregnancy? I have checked on the 7 day after having sex, but it showed negative.. Please suggest something

    • By Kalyssa (not verified) on 29 Jun 2019 - 04:46

      I have been passing out for the past two days and I been having pain under my stomach and on my lower back.

    • By Amanda (not verified) on 30 May 2019 - 14:17

      Hi am having pains round my stomach I gas out at all time, an I had sex with my man 15 days after my period. Could it be pregnancy pls I need help. Thanks

    • By Gracy (not verified) on 29 May 2019 - 09:29

      I had my blastocyst ivf transfer on the 19/5/19 and today is my 11 day after the transfer. My period has past 3 days . Three day after de transfer ,l had some cramps and a very faint yellowish blood only when l wipes and it stop few days. Today 29/5/19,l have two running stomach. Please what may be the cause. This is my 3rd ivf ,the 1st &2nd ivf failed. Any concerns please ? am very worried







    • By Nelisiwe (not verified) on 28 May 2019 - 13:30

      I had unprotected sex two weeks back and it was the last day of my period am i pregnant coz i am having back pains and a running stomach?

    • By Khizra (not verified) on 23 May 2019 - 05:51

      I m having upper abdominal pain and shocks on and off since 6 hours usually shocks appear with pain after every 20 secs and i m in 16th week.plz help

    • By Cortney Sosa (not verified) on 20 May 2019 - 09:02

      Hello,
      I am 8 weeks pregnant and i haven't had any complications until an hour ago. I'm having really bad abdomen pain and idk if its because I had a cigarette or because I had some of my boyfriends beer. But it won't go away and it hurts really bad, ive had a miscarriage last year but it happened so fast because I didn't even know I was pregnant. When I found out i was pregnant it was already too late amd the hospital said I was having an incomplete miscarriage. I haven't seen a doctor yet since I've been pregnant because I'm waiting for my Medicaid to approve.... Should I go to the hospital or see if it goes away.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 14 Jun 2019 - 17:29

      Please stop drinking and smoking. It’s not worth it to have another miscarriage. Your baby deserves more than this!

    • By Danielle (not verified) on 20 Jun 2019 - 03:17

      Go to hospital on safe side since you already had miscarriage before. Please don't smoke and drink very unhealthy for you and baby. Take easy and you will be fine.

    • By Mel (not verified) on 23 Jun 2019 - 14:33

      All I can say is see your Dr or call your midwife ASAP, it's better to find out now then later so you are prepared

    • By El123 (not verified) on 29 Jun 2019 - 08:01

      I had a beer too when I was 8 weeks and I felt some contraction pain just the same so I guarantee its the beer.

    • Pages

    Add new comment