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 Happiness (not verified) on 20 Jul 2018 - 12:01

    hi, please I need your assistance. I am 10 weeks pregnant and have been having this severe very sharp pain in my tummy and I feel cold everyday uptil now, it's getting me worried. have not start anti natal due to some things. please help me what can I do.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Jul 2018 - 13:13

    Hi Happiness,
    If you are having severe sharp pains then I would advise for you to see your doctor for a review. Some cramps and aching is normal in pregnancy, but you describe the pain as sharp and severe therefore this needs to be reviewed. We would advise for you to book for your antenatal care as soon as possible also.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Felicia (not verified) on 20 Jul 2018 - 06:10

    Hi I've been having the stomach pain during the night and I'm 9 months pregnant what must I do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Jul 2018 - 12:59

    Dear Felicia,
    If you have been having pain then it is important to ring your maternity unit for advice. It is really important to be monitoring your baby's movements also, if they have reduced at all then you must go straight in to be check out.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Nicolette (not verified) on 5 Aug 2018 - 23:29

    Hello,I'm also 9 months pregnant( about 39 weeks) and I started having stomach pains quite recently.The baby's movements have increased a lot.And I've had below my abdomen ( in the pelvis I think) since end of second trimester.When I first did my scan I was 9 weeks and EDD was 4th of August ,Today it's the 6th .My EDD based of last day of menstruation is 16th of August and my scan during 20 weeks showed EDD as 19th of August.So I'm not sure if the pains are a sign of early labour or what it is because the EDD's are quite confusing for me. it's my first pregnancy by the way.Your advice in this regard would be appreciated

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Aug 2018 - 10:25

    Hello Nicolette, We usually advise that the most accurate due date is the one done earliest which would be 4th August. However, there is no reason to be alarmed as only about 6% of babies are born on their due date. We expect most babies to be born between 37 and 42 weeks.

  • By Nicolette (not verified) on 12 Aug 2018 - 16:46

    Sorry to bother you again,but I've been having a pain on my lower back more on my left.The pain is so bad that walking becomes a quite difficult.I've been having this for the past 3 to 4 days.I'm currently 39 Weeks and 6 days.Please Help!!!

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Aug 2018 - 10:01

    Hi Nicolette,
    Sorry for the delay as we are non urgent service, I do hope that you have been in contact with your maternity unit for a review if are experiencing on going pain. Do monitor your baby's movements closely also, any chances then contact your maternity unit straight away.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Laura (not verified) on 19 Jul 2018 - 20:51

    Hi,i was wondering if you could give me some advice about having an abortion as I think I might be pregnant I gave my boyfriend a blowjob three weeks ago and accidentally swallowed his sperm and now I have missed my period and I'm panicking that I'm pregnant he also told me he has strong swimmers? What do I do next?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Jul 2018 - 12:55

    Hi Laura,
    It is not possible to become pregnant by swallowing sperm so please do not worry. If you are very stressed and anxious this can also delay a period. If you have missed a period I would suggest that you do a pregnancy test if you have been having intercourse with your boyfriend to rule out pregnancy. I hope this has reassured you, please do be in touch if we can support you.
    Best wishes, Tommy's midwife

  • By norah (not verified) on 13 Jul 2018 - 14:50

    I am 5 months pregnant but I have been having a stomach pain and a back pain.. the thing is that am worried cause the pain is not stopping.. is this normal

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Jul 2018 - 15:10

    No it is not normal to have pain in pregnancy. Please call your maternity unit and arrange to be seen as soon as possible.

  • By Jay (not verified) on 12 Jul 2018 - 20:56

    I haven't been pregnant before. However,I am a little confused. I have been having some abdominal pains for the past few weeks, sometimes I can't sleep. Had unprotected sex with my husband 3 months ago. I have been going on my period.. However,my tummy looks big. I went to the docs and he said I was bloated but I really doubt it. Now I have been feeling back pain ,been feeling tired, nauseous though I am not vomiting. I need your help please. Could I be pregnant? I have done a home testing using sugar and urine but the results are negative. I am not sure how accurate that is.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Jul 2018 - 13:47

    Hi Jay,
    A home test of sugar and urine will not give you an accurate pregnancy result, I would advise for you to use a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant. If your symptoms continue then do go back to the doctor.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Jay (not verified) on 16 Jul 2018 - 19:36

    I have been to the doctor's and they did some blood tests but they came back negative. However, I am still experiencing the abdominal pain. The docs are not sure what's causing these cramps,they have requested for a scan to see if they can get some answers.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Jul 2018 - 12:21

    Hi Jay
    Blood tests are very accurate, so if it was negative, then this will be the true result. It sounds like they will send you to a gynecology clinic to see if they can find what is causing your abdominal pain.
    Please take good care of yourself. All the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Becca (not verified) on 12 Jul 2018 - 14:24

    Hi. I’ve just found out i’m Pregnant. My doctor thinks I’m 4-5 weeks. I’ve been getting cramps which feel a little bit like period pains? Is this normal or should I ring my doctor? The cramping started as soon as I found out a few days ago, so I’m also thinking it could just be anxiety? Thanks in advance. Becca x

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Jul 2018 - 13:34

    Dear Becca,
    Some mild period type cramps can be normal at this stage and can often coincide roughly when your next period would have been due. If they are painful or you are having any spotting then do contact your doctor to be reviewed.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Sri (not verified) on 11 Jul 2018 - 23:42

    Hii...i am suffering with back pain...stomach pain and adnormal pain...i am feeling suddenly sickness....nd vomiting sensation....did i am pregnant

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jul 2018 - 14:14

    Hi Sri,
    I am a little unclear from your message as to whether you are pregnant or unsure if you are pregnant? If you are pregnant and getting these pains and feeling unwell then I would advise for you to ring your maternity unit to be reviewed straight away. If you are unsure whether you are pregnant, if you have missed a period then do take a pregnancy test to confirm whether you are pregnant or not. If you have not missed a period then I would advise for you to wait to see if it comes or not or else you may get a false negative test result.
    I hope this helps
    Best wishes,
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Charlotte (not verified) on 11 Jul 2018 - 08:27

    Hi I’m 13wks 4dys and have woke with cramp like pains that are persistent in bottom right and middle of my abdomen and my back this is Also my 3rd is this normal ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jul 2018 - 15:37

    Hi Charlotte,
    It is possible that it is normal as some cramps and aches are in pregnancy, however if you are having persistent pains then I would advice for you to contact your GP or early pregnancy unit for a review just to make sure everything is ok.
    Best wishes
    Tomm's midwives

  • By tracey (not verified) on 8 Jul 2018 - 13:51

    Hi I am 11 weeks today I am suffering with mild belly ache and a back ache that goes with it is this normal or do I need to get in touch with my midwife I have my first scan coming up in over a week I also suffer with mild sciatica in my back as well

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Jul 2018 - 16:31

    Hi Tracey,
    These mild pains are usually nothing to worry about at this stage of pregnancy, but if you have any bleeding you should contact your doctor or early pregnancy unit for advice. If all is well at your scan next week the pain may be associated with your sciatica. An osteopath or physiotherapist may be able to help and suggest some exercises to help you.

  • By kuldeep (not verified) on 5 Jul 2018 - 13:45

    hi.. I am 1 Month pregnant. i am having upper abdominal pain from last 3 days continuously. sometimes it get severe....am i safe from gall stone...what are its symptomps...if gall stone pain remains continuously after every 10 min.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jul 2018 - 15:51

    Hi Kuldeep, Thank you for your comment.
    As you are only 4 weeks pregnant, the pain that you are experiencing may not to pregnancy related. It is difficult to say what is causing the pain so it is advisable that you call your GP to be assessed. If you feel that this pain is severe then please go to A and E as they will be able to see you quickly and get you comfortable. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Lowri (not verified) on 2 Jul 2018 - 14:46

    Hi ,

    I am 22 weeks pregnant and have a dull ache below belly button which doesn’t last longer than 15 minutes. It almost feels similar to period pain/ache. I have not had any unusual discharge/ bleeding and have felt baby moving.

    What could be causing the discomfort?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Jul 2018 - 16:13

    Hi Lowri
    Abdominal pain at 22 weeks should always be investigated. Please call your maternity unit and arrange to be seen today. Reassuring that baby is moving well but best to get checked out. Take care x

  • By Rhoda (not verified) on 27 Jun 2018 - 13:03

    I last saw my menses on 13/5/18 had sex on 20/5/18 and took my IUD off on 22/5/18 and haven't seen my period again. I haven't tested for pregnancy with a teste kit twice but it's negative.iam having a little cramps , urinates frequently.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Jun 2018 - 12:09

    You could be in the early stages of pregnancy- your hormone levels may not yet be high enough to be detected by the test kits; However these are very sensitive and can detect pregnancy from as early as 8 days after conception.
    If your period still doesn't come and the tests are negative again I would advise that you discuss this with your GP.

    I have added some links with more information for you
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/planning-pregnancy/taking-pregnancy-test
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-test/

  • By Portia (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 23:27

    Pls I'm 25 weeks feeling pain in my right side of my stomach n light abdominal pain is on n off is it normal

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:26

    Hi Portia,
    If you are having on going pain then it is important that you contact your maternity unit to be reviewed to make sure everything is ok.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Blanche (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 23:25

    I wanted an abortion an I inserted 2 tablets of misoprostol into my anus and drank 2. Is this the proper way of doing it? I'm 60 days pregnant.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:11

    Hi Blanche,
    If you are wanting an abortion it is very important that you seek medical support and do this through a clinic who can prescribe the appropriate medication and give you support when you are going through the abortion. I am unsure the dose of the tablets that you are prescribing however misoprostol would not be given into your anus. Please do get help as you may have taken too much medication.
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Nashy (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 23:22

    Hello. I feel so uncomfortable at times and it pisses me off. What can be the issue with me? I'm 54 days pregnant.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:06

    Hi Nashy,
    In what way are you uncomfortable? Are you in pain? We would need a little bit more information to help you. Feel free to email us [email protected] so we can discuss this with you further.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Rubi (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 15:12

    i have pain in lower side long time daily.
    Plz help what i do ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:04

    Hi Rubi,
    You do not say how many weeks pregnant you are but if you are having on going pain then we would always advise for you to see your midwife or GP for a review.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Amanda (not verified) on 20 Jun 2018 - 21:01

    Hello I was supposed to get my monthly on the 3rd of June didn't get it... Took a pregnancy test, actually 3! All, positive. My stomach has been hurting non stop since I found out. Can't eat makes it worse, I am bloated as well. No bleeding.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:03

    Hi Amanda,
    If you are having on going pain then we would advise for you to see your GP for a review, it is great that you are not having any bleeding but all on going pain should be checked out.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Chioma (not verified) on 16 Jun 2018 - 23:01

    I feel severe pain in my left side of my tommy

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Jun 2018 - 11:48

    Hi Chioma, Thank you for your comment.
    Apologies for the delay in our reply, we hope that the pain you were experiencing has subsided. If you get further abdominal pain in pregnancy then we would recommend that you seek medical advice from your midwife or GP as any pain in pregnancy needs to be assessed. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By B.B (not verified) on 15 Jun 2018 - 00:11

    I feel am pregnant, I went for malaria and typhoid ,it came out negative and and went for a pregnant test which came out negative. But I have been having this symptoms, back pain and waist pain, within the first week I lost appetite for food, but this the second week and am always hungry like every minute,my breast is tender and tingling, I don't want to hear anything that smells, I urinate frequently making the toilet my friend, am always tired ,dizzy and weak, I would walk a little space and would feel like sitting down. I cry at little things and I have catarrh, am always sweating, I eat little and my Tommy pumbs up, my button was out but now it inside,. I saw my period on the 17,5,2018,I have not experience my ovulation making it late , am only thinking if my period would come also. my ovulation date have passed and no since of ovulation,my Tommy feels like they are flying bubbles inside, I believe am pregnant,. am I really pregnant, pls reply me

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jun 2018 - 13:45

    Dear B.B,
    It is possible that you could be pregnant but it has been a little early for a pregnancy test to be able to pick up a the pregnancy hormones as they may not be high enough. If your period does not come in the next few days then I would suggest to take another pregnancy test. Either way if your symptoms continue then I would advise for you to see a doctor for a review and advice.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Jasmin (not verified) on 14 Jun 2018 - 23:47

    I am being a four months pregnant I sometime feel pain inside of the stomach.what would be the reason?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jun 2018 - 13:54

    Hi Jasmin,
    It is difficult to know the reason, sometimes there is no obvious reason, sometimes it can be due to a urine infection or ligament pain. I would suggest if this pain is on going then to speak with your midwife for review.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Emma (not verified) on 13 Jun 2018 - 16:51

    Hi im 18 weeks and 3 days i have felt what felt like gentle movements from about 17 weeks but they weren't often but i havnt felt anything for few days and now am having lower abdominal pains and back pains spoken to midwife who just said to get painkillers its ligament pain they havnt really got better and am really scared am having a mc

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jun 2018 - 13:56

    Hi Emma,
    Please be reassured that we would not expect for you to feel regular movements at this stage in pregnancy, it is usual for movements to be irregular and you may not feel them every day. If your pains are on going then do contact your midwife again, it could be ligament pain or it could be a urine infection or something else. If you find your midwife is not helpful then you can always speak with your GP.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Ayesha (not verified) on 12 Jun 2018 - 03:53

    Hi
    I am 17 weeks pregnant and my baby is not moving
    What shal I do?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jun 2018 - 09:56

    Hi Ayesha,
    thanks for posting. It is normal to start feeling movements between 16 and 24 weeks. If it is your first baby you might find that you feel movements nearer to 16 weeks than 24 but for first time Mums it might be later towards 24 weeks.
    Please look at our Movements matter campaign and the link below which lets you know what to expect movement wise as your pregnancy progresses and who to contact if you are worried.
    https://www.tommys.org/sites/default/files/RFM.%20What%20happens%20next%20FINAL.pdf
    You can also call and speak to a midwife weekdays 9-5 pm Ayesha on 0800 0147 800
    Have a great pregnancy
    Anna-Tommy's Midwife

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