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 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.

    • By Trish (not verified) on 20 May 2019 - 08:47

      I had an unprotected sex. After six days l had a sharp paving pain and could not sleep with the pain, and hot. The pain only last a day. Now an on my second week. Feel tired very tired . Am gassy too much this has been going on for four days the gassy

    • By Charles Kanu (not verified) on 19 May 2019 - 12:41

      Hi!!

      My wife is about 12 weeks pregnant and experiencing lose of appetite and because of that she's loosing weight, is it normal??

    • By Jae (not verified) on 14 Jun 2019 - 19:59

      I can be common to experience nausea and loss of appetite during pregnancy. but if she’s losing weight she should see the dr.

    • By tyra (not verified) on 18 May 2019 - 17:49

      hi m 35 weeks twin pregnancy my twins drops already i fell pain upper of my stomach and some cramps in uterus like i should go toilet for poo and also diarrhoea smptoms. whats must i do? m sorry about my poor english

    • By Jade Grobler (not verified) on 13 May 2019 - 04:31

      Please help, it’s my first pregnancy. I’m around 5 weeks and over the last 4 days I have been experiencing episodes of severe pain in my lower abdomen. Similar to period cramps but extremely painful. I was on pill for over 12 years and never really struggled with period cramps but my sister said she gets these kind of pains. Could I just not be use to it? It happens 4/5 times a day. Feel like it’s getting more frequent. Mostly in evenings when I’m sleeping. No spotting or vomiting. The pain lasts around 20min everytime

    • By Kadene brown (not verified) on 7 Jun 2019 - 14:06

      This is my first pregnancy and I'm concerned! Planning on seeing the doctor tomorrow. Try and visit the doctor

    • By Gentian (not verified) on 23 Jun 2019 - 18:14

      Did you get to see the doctor?

      My wife has exactly the same thing.

    • By Anna (not verified) on 30 Jun 2019 - 05:46

      I’m having the same symptoms including spotting and I feel like something is wrong but my ob told me it’s perfectly normal and very common

    • By Selena (not verified) on 31 Jul 2019 - 06:16

      So did everything turn out okay? I’m currently experiencing the same thing I’m 7 weeks

    • By Rachael (not verified) on 11 May 2019 - 08:17

      my period suppose to come on 29th of April but up till now it didn't come, I conducted urine test it was positive, my problem is that I do feel pain on my right lower abdomen and I do wee more than before. please is it normal? help me

    • By Cannyluv (not verified) on 5 May 2019 - 12:12

      Hi,
      I am 35 weeks pregnant and I feel pains in the lower part of my belly and also each time I eat I feel pains that can last for 30 minutes and stops. And I was tested positive for an UTI but on medication . What could this be?

    • By ste (not verified) on 2 May 2019 - 15:15

      4 days late of my period then the following day i had period but no pms only stomach cramps and pain and bloating and i use to eat unlike before and i feel stomach full especially when i eat and nippples pain i my pregrnant

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 16 May 2019 - 10:43

      Quite possible. Take a test

    • By Precious (not verified) on 30 Apr 2019 - 20:24

      I had unprotected sex few days after my period , a week after my period ,I have been having slight drop of blood with pain like I want to see my period and it not coming , a week to my period I have been having slight pain like the period is coming with a little pain at the upper side of my stomach , those this signs means am pregnant

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 30 Apr 2019 - 16:52

      I am feeling constipated and have cramps and stomach ache with brownish discharge sometime

    • By Shmee (not verified) on 7 Jun 2019 - 05:03

      If the discharge is coming from your butt then it might be poo.

    • By Jay (not verified) on 28 Apr 2019 - 09:53

      Hi. Have been really feeling comfortable and have been running stomach for few days now. I also have cramps and my period has been delayed. I used a urine pregnancy test kit and it says negative.. Am so confused.. What could be wrong with me? Am I pregnant?

    • By Steph (not verified) on 28 Apr 2019 - 04:39

      I’m 4 weeks pregnant I have 3 days with severe abdominal Pain and back pain like really strong cramps. I’m constantly checking myself but no bleeding or spotting. I don’t have my first app till May 4. Should I go to the ER? I have taken tea and half of a tynelon and no help

    • By KW (not verified) on 23 Apr 2019 - 08:14

      Hi
      two previous mornings and today I’ve woken with pain in my stomach more higher tummy than lower, some back pain, and one day it felt like air trapped under my skin across my shoulders back and stomach. The pain is sharp or in waves (not contractions - I’ve had one baby before and I’m only 8 weeks), I’m on all sorts of IVF drugs, but I haven’t experienced this before in a pregnancy. I’ve tried an antacid, it doesn’t seem to help. I don’t eat gluten (I’m celiac) or dairy, and it isn’t that because I am so careful with gluten. Help

    • By Mabe (not verified) on 7 Jul 2019 - 21:03

      I have been experiencing the same sharp upper abdominal pain for a week in the morning when I wake up. It goes away in 1-2 minutes. Additionally, I am hungry all the time and experiencing mild headaches and dizziness every day. I had unprotected sex 17 days ago but a pregnancy test last night was negative. Could I be pregnant?

    • By Lucy (not verified) on 2 Apr 2019 - 09:39

      hi, I'm just over 35weeks pregnant with 5th child and i have had sharp pain in lower abdomen (left side) 6 times on and off in the last 30minutes . now they have stopped . what could this be ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Apr 2019 - 15:06

      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.

    • By Golden (not verified) on 1 Jul 2019 - 21:37

      I had sex with my partner one week before my menses and now after that I fell some abdominal pains, i feel uneasy, am weak and I sometimes vomit, please am I pregnant

    • By Stevie (not verified) on 1 Apr 2019 - 11:32

      Hi is a aching sort of pain usual in the first weeks of pregnancy ? I had a early miscarriage a couple of months ago and cant stop worrying feel so anxious about it. It's not a pain more like a ache feeling in my left groin. Any advice please? I am 4-5 weeks
      Thanks x

    • By Rida (not verified) on 31 Mar 2019 - 19:28

      I am 14 weeks pregnant and I have this sharp pain on my right side side of the abdomen that spreads out across my entire abdomen when I move around.. should I be worried or are these gas pains?

    • By Elizabeth (not verified) on 17 Apr 2019 - 19:21

      I personally had a similar issue. The pain eventually spread to my back and I had pains in my right leg as well.. My doctor told me that I was dehydrated. She also told me the pains in my leg and back could be from my sciatic nerve caused by weight gain and the position of my baby. These pains would last a whole day. I felt like I couldnt move. I would see a doctor about your pains because every pregnancy is a little different. In the mean time stay hydrated and use a heating pad or ice pack. I hope you feel better!

    • By Minehle (not verified) on 31 Mar 2019 - 19:17

      Am having stomach pains dont knw what wrong with me

    • By nokuthula (not verified) on 30 Mar 2019 - 12:33

      am 14 weeks pregnant today at work when I sit I notice this sharp pain on my lower abdomen it comes and goes should I worry this is the first time this happen

    • By Tee (not verified) on 29 Mar 2019 - 09:21

      Hi, I am 15 weeks pregnant, i'm feeling a dull pain on the right side of my tommy, it's been there for 2 days now. I urinate without pain and I don't feel any nausea. what should I do?

    • By Primrose (not verified) on 28 Mar 2019 - 19:21

      Hey
      I've been running stomach for the past 5 days with severe stomach pains and my period was due on the 17th and missed it.
      I took the pregnancy test and came out positive and this is my first pregnancy so should I worry about this severe stomach pains.

    • By Esty (not verified) on 27 Mar 2019 - 14:57

      I had sex on my ovulation day after 6days now I have been experiencing some symptoms like headache, sharp pain on my upper stomach and also an internal cold, cramping at my left lower abdomen. Could I be pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Apr 2019 - 16:57

      I would suggest waiting until you have missed a period before doing a pregnancy test. If the pains in your stomach worsen and/or you have heavy bleeding you should contact your local A&E
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Swathi (not verified) on 10 May 2019 - 16:11

      Are you pregnant as of know

    • By Sunanda K (not verified) on 26 Mar 2019 - 11:54

      Hello! I'm 35 weeks pregnant, from last 10 days onward there is
      Pain in upper abdomen, doctor has continued medicines for swelling and pain since last 10 days but the pain persists. Only improvement is it's intensity.Doctor is guessing swelling due to formation of gas and is not ready to operate now and has asked to wait for right time. what steps should I take , please suggest

    • By Cynthia (not verified) on 25 Mar 2019 - 21:07

      my boyfriend have unprotected sex with me and I'm feeling stomach ache I later go for pregnancy test so the doctor told me that one week pregnant.. please I'm a young teenager of 17 is there any way I will prevent the pregnancy before is too late
      pls I need your reply ASAP

    • By Rhea (not verified) on 22 Mar 2019 - 17:37

      Hi . I have even been getting cramps or burning sensation in my stomach after ovulation . I m late on my period so took a test and it's positive. As soon as I eat something the pain stops n it comes back after some time . Is this normal . I am not bleeding . I had a miscarriage in Dec so just worried

    • By Jo (not verified) on 19 Mar 2019 - 20:42

      Hi I’m 21 + 2 weeks and I get this uncomfortable feeling in my very low abdomen right side I don’t know if it’s the baby moving about and kicking against something that’s causing it or not as I have t felt much movement in my pregnancy yet so not 100% sure as it’s my first x

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