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 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 include:

These symptoms usually develop between the 4th and 12th week of pregnancy.

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 include:

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

Pain in the upper stomach 

This pain could be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Other symptoms 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.

This typically happens 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
These 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

  • By sylvia (not verified) on 14 Mar 2019 - 09:43

    I am 9weeks pregnant and this is my first time... I get stomach pains almost every day and my tommy feels so full whenever I eat something, I feel ill aswel most of the times but I haven't visited the hospital yet....I'm so scared now that I might have complication because I haven't been to the hospital ever since I got pregnant. what can I do because I don't know what happens when visiting a doctor for a check up for the first time

  • By Faiza (not verified) on 12 Mar 2019 - 05:50

    Last years December the did for me surgery ectopic and now am pregnant i am having pain in my right side of my Tommy and back pain

  • By Nontsikelelo (not verified) on 28 Feb 2019 - 10:49

    Please help i had a yellow discharge and itching but now it's brown and i'm feeling sick all the time 2 months pregnant

  • By Janu (not verified) on 28 Feb 2019 - 06:32

    I m 17 week pregnant .last night I feel sudden sharp pain for a few second .and it mak!s me feel worried ..does it harm ful to my baby .

  • By Alia (not verified) on 27 Feb 2019 - 14:10

    Hi!!
    I got married in December last year.
    This month my due date for period was 16th but I don't get periods yet.
    So I don't know I am pregnant or not
    But for last 6 days I am having very mild pain on left side of abdomen, is it any sign of pregnancy or there is something in it to worry about?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Feb 2019 - 14:22

    Hi Alia. You need to go to your GP for review- they can do a pregnancy test there as well as refer you for further review if they are concerned about your abdominal which could be totally unrelated to pregnancy. Please be seen as soon as you can. Take care, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Tye (not verified) on 7 Mar 2019 - 21:00

    I just found out i was pregnant 2 days ago, i had also experienced a dull pain on my left side, i went to the Er and to my surprise i was. I also skipped my period... And im 42 and natural...so just go get checked, but i think you are. If so congratulations!

  • By Jullie (not verified) on 24 Feb 2019 - 08:28

    I am 8weeks pregnant and I have been bleeding for three days now not much just light bleeding but the pains and cramps I have at night it’s so discomforting that I find it hard to sleep, until 4 in the morning it goes away and then I can finally sleep pls am really scared

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Feb 2019 - 11:00

    Hi Jullie
    Please go into be reviewed as soon as you can by your GP or in A&E minors if you are still in severe pain and bleeding heavily. You need to be reviewed and probably scanned. Abdominal pain and bleeding is deemed abnormal in pregnancy, at any gestation, so please seen as soon as you can be!
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Mercy (not verified) on 23 Feb 2019 - 08:11

    am currently 35 weeks and on some nights i cant sleep because of cramps also i have been getting on and off cramps on some random days some are soo painful while others are mild,have no change in cervical mucus and no fluid is leaking out,help am getting worried?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 25 Feb 2019 - 16:23

    Hi Mercy. It isn't possible to advise you about this on the website. If you have abdominal pain please see your doctor or midwife for a full assessment.

  • By A. Sarega (not verified) on 21 Feb 2019 - 06:26

    Hai
    am having lower abdominal pain and light brown bleeding before 04 days of my period whether am pregnant or am in my period. please clarify that.

  • By lerato (not verified) on 15 Feb 2019 - 21:47

    I always have a terrible stomach ache when I go to sleep to an extent I can't even sleep I'm 2 months pregnant and the stomach pains I have feel like acid boiling in my tummy I sleep with them I wake up with them and then I feel like vomiting but nothing comes out, my mouth is also forever bitter tasteless I'm constantly in pain due to that stomach pain and when it starts everything comes to a standstill I can't even move I feel like sitting or sleeping the whole day I fear it might be something wrong thou I'm not so sure please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Feb 2019 - 12:53

    Hi Lerato - you really need to go to be seen by your doctor or in hospital if you have had constant abdo pain. This is not normal and I am worried that you might have an ectopic pregnancy if you have not yet had a scan - so please be seen as soon as you possibly can. Ectopic pregnancies are very dangerous. PLEASE BE SEEN TODAY! Tommy's midwife

  • By Andiswa zwide (not verified) on 9 Feb 2019 - 19:59

    Hello I am 40weeks3days pregnant. .I having upper abdominal pain n I feel lyk vomiting and my lower abdominal pain is also having sharp pain in left ..must I be worried?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Feb 2019 - 12:25

    Hi Andiswa - you need to go into your maternity unit to be seen by a midwife and doctor asap. Any sharp abdominal pain, is not normal and needs urgent review. Please take your pregnancy notes with you too. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Maureen (not verified) on 7 Feb 2019 - 09:48

    10 days to my period am having pains cramping but later stope but later started feeling pains at the right of my tommy ..pls what is the cause ?is it sings I am pregnant?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Feb 2019 - 15:54

    Hi - If you have had unprotected sex and think you maybe pregnant, please take an pregnancy test from when your next period is due onward.

  • By Courtney (not verified) on 3 Feb 2019 - 17:33

    I've just found out that I'm pregnant Im not sure how many weeks I just know it's 3+ weeks, and I am feeling really sick, going to the toilet to be sick and nothings coming out its really painful on my stomach what does this mean?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Feb 2019 - 12:54

    Hi Courtney,
    Nausea and Vomiting Is very common in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so this is nothing abnormal or to worry about, It will pass eventually. You can work out roughly how many weeks pregnant you are using our pregnancy calculator here https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/use-our-pregnancy-calculator-find-out-your-due-date
    For more info on nausea in early pregnancy, please read this -
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/early-pregnancy/morning-sickness-information-and-support
    All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Stacey (not verified) on 2 Feb 2019 - 09:21

    Hello, I’m 4 + 2 and this is my 3rd pregnancy. I had a miscarriage last July so am extremely nervous. I have for the past 24 hours had very achy legs that seem to be triggered more when I’m sitting down or if I turn over in bed onto my left side. Do you think that this could be the start of a miscarriage? I didn’t have this in my other pregnancies. Should I prepare myself for the worse or is achy legs this early a common symptom? Any advise would be really appreciated. Thanks.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Feb 2019 - 12:50

    Hi Stacey.
    It's understandable that you will feel anxious in a pregnancy after a loss. But please let me reassure you, that having achy legs, is not a sign of an impending miscarriage. This is more likely to be related to something entirely different to pregnancy and not something that will harm the prgnancy - so if this persists for over 2 weeks, perhaps visit your GP for a review. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Anna (not verified) on 31 Jan 2019 - 20:05

    Hi
    Have been having stomach discomfort and have had running poo twice since a week pass ovulation,first was a very sore nipple.that lasted for 4 days,and stomach discomfort get worster each time I eat and my temperature is 37.6 and am feeling sick.cold fatigue and my period is in 2 days could this be a sigh of pregnancy? Because have never be pregnant before

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Feb 2019 - 10:15

    Dear Anna,
    It sounds more likely that you have a stomach bug that your body is dealing with that the moment. However if you are late with your period and feel you maybe pregnant then do a pregnancy test just to check.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Nolwazi (not verified) on 30 Jan 2019 - 08:05

    I had an unprotected sex with my boyfriend on the 19th of January 2019 then a week after the sex I start experiencing some back pain ñ stomach cramps every day, am not worried whether am pregnant or not, am expecting my period on the 4th of February 2019.

  • By Mimie (not verified) on 29 Jan 2019 - 06:21

    Hi, I'm 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant with my second baby, for the past 2days I've been having period like pains that don't last more than an hour and today I'm having a bad stomach bug. When I go to the loo nothing comes out but it is painful. Could it be early stages of labour?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2019 - 14:37

    Hi Mimie. It does sound like your body is trying to get itself ready for labour. If the pains are ongoing, and the pressure you feel in your bottom does not go away, then it might be worth having a quick check over with a midwife at your local hospital on the labour ward/triage - just to make sure everything is fine. Hopefully baby will be here soon. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By L (not verified) on 27 Jan 2019 - 16:31

    Hi, I had a miscarriage last year and still struggling.
    I've been really stressed lately and my periods have been all over the place so I often don't notice if I'm late. I've been sick a lot lately and off food, my boobs hurt I'm bloated even though I'm barely managing food for feeling nauseous and I've had lower abdominal pain for the last few days. Sometimes severe cramping. I'm at work so can't get to a dr or hospital. my periods very late and I think I'm definitely pregnant. They have a pregnancy test at work but I don't want to take it alone. I've also been told I'll get sent home from work and think I'll lose my job

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2019 - 12:18

    Hi L
    I hope that you have been able to do a pregnancy test now, as a few days have passed since you sent this message. If you are pregnant, then please make contact with your GP so that they can refer you for a midwife and scan date appt. If you are not pregnant, and your periods are still very erratic, then it might be worth being referred to a gynaecology specialist doctor- your GP can also do this for you. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By purity (not verified) on 26 Jan 2019 - 13:32

    I did an ectopic surgery three months ago and now am pregnant I went for scan and my baby is in my womb but am having a mild pain at the right side of my stomach am really worried..

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2019 - 12:14

    Hi Purity.
    Any abdominal pan, at any gestation of pregnancy, needs urgent review. So please get seen by your doctor as soon as possible. They may need to scan you. All the best, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Sierra (not verified) on 24 Jan 2019 - 21:02

    Hi, I am currently 23+3 weeks pregnant. Yesterday for a few hours it felt like I had a stitch pain in my stomach I could feel it around my whole stomach but it was mainly my left side and sometimes lower stomach. Fast foward to night time I had sex, during sex I all of a sudden felt like it was so wet (Not sex wet, but as if my waters broke) or as if I just peed a little but didnt feel it? I have no clue what it could be.....just a little worried

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2019 - 12:12

    Hi Sierra You need to go to your local labour ward to be seen as soon as possible to rule out if your waters have broken or not. The doctor will need to do a speculum examination to test this. They may also take some blood to test for infection as if they are broken (your waters) then you and your baby could be at risk of infection now as it has been a few days.
    Be seen urgently! Tommy's Midwife

  • By Neecee (not verified) on 23 Jan 2019 - 20:14

    Hi there


    I've been having pregnancy symptoms since the beginning of the month after getting my period on the 27th of December which only lasted 3 days and normally lasts 6 days, I'm nauseous half the time every single day, feeling movements inside my stomach, my cramps on my cervix, headaches and neck pains every now and then, my breasts are big so I don't feel any tenderness but my nipples pop out ,my legs feel weak and slight cramps especially when in laying down, every single morning when I wake up there is a mild pain on one side of my stomach (left) so I took 3 pregnancy tests, 1 each for 3 weeks and all came out negative , got my period again this month last week on the 16h of January, also lasted for 3 days, it's been a week now since my period and I still get the same symptoms and now worse because I can't stand the smell of food being cooked, what is happening to me? Please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Jan 2019 - 12:03

    HI Neecee - Thank you for your message.
    As you have been experiencing these symptoms fora while and haven't had a positive pregnancy test yet, it would be best to visit your GP/doctor for advice and a check up. The symptoms you are experiencing may be caused by other issues, which your GP can test for and advise further on.

  • By pearl (not verified) on 18 Jan 2019 - 10:05

    on the 07th n 8th of January i had an unprotected sex with my boyfriend.on the 10th of January it was my ovulation day.now I feel some abdominal pains,back pains,headache,my breast are getting bigger,n I'm also experiencing running stomach.does this mean I'm pregnant???

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Jan 2019 - 15:26

    Hi Pearl
    The symptoms you describe could be due to early pregnancy-I would advise that you take a pregnancy test once your period is overdue-testing earlier than this may give a false negative result as the hormone levels may too low to be detected by the test.
    Take care
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Tabea (not verified) on 12 Jan 2019 - 10:10

    Hi, I am 5 weeks pregnant and it’s my first time as well. I’m very worried about the slightest thing and think that there might be something wrong. I’m holding back on calling my doctor and they didn’t seem too interested in seeing me when I told them that I was pregnant. Which I find very bad. I had to push them one day to see me as I felt alone and had so many questions. At that point I haven’t been given a contact number with a midwife so I was literally alone trying to find answers online. Today I’ve woken up in the middle of the night with severe stomach pains and pulling sensations. It was very painful, I’ve changed positions and eventually it was gone. I do have period cramps which can last for as long as an hour. Sometimes I want to put off from going online to look for answers because some of them are scary and probably not accurate. I find it shocking that I won’t be seen for another 2 months and I’m desperate for someone to check my womb that all is okay so far. How can i do that where no one is trying to push me away saying ‘all is okay’

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Jan 2019 - 15:59

    Hi Tabea,
    You are right that the beginning of pregnancy can be a difficult time. I am glad that you have found our website as we give the best information about how to look after yourself in the early weeks of pregnancy. Unfortunately, we know that 1:4 pregnancies will not continue to full term and there is no test to determine whether your pregnancy will be affected in this way. As long as you have no bleeding there is no reason to think there is a problem. It is important for your GP to arrange your maternity care and we aim to see you before 12 weeks to assess your risk and put all your care in place. In the meantime follow our weekly pregnancy guide and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates..

  • By Gloria (not verified) on 17 Jan 2019 - 17:52

    Hospital .Hospital . hostipal .

  • By Nyah (not verified) on 22 Jan 2019 - 08:22

    Hey there I advice to go to the hospital because sometimes it’s best to take the next step instead of waiting so long on your doctors visit!!

  • By Alyssa merchant (not verified) on 30 Jan 2019 - 17:17

    Hello, I’m also a first time mother to be, and I also wake up in the middle of the night and feel a pulling sensation. Most of the time for me it is because I’m hungry or I need to get the acid off of my stomach. I usually get up, make a piece of peanut butter toast and eat half of it, just to see if I can keep it down for 15 minutes, you might throw up you might not... it’s like tossing a coin but it definitely helps me and I’m 9 weeks!

  • By Helen (not verified) on 10 Jan 2019 - 01:53

    I do feel pains in the right side of my tummy, I have an unprotected sex with my hubby during ovulation,thou it has been a week now, it's possible that am pregnant

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Jan 2019 - 15:03

    Hi - Thank you for your message.
    If you think that you maybe pregnant, it is important to take a pregnancy test to determine if you are or not.

  • By Nozey (not verified) on 9 Jan 2019 - 20:36

    Hey dear...yesterday i had a painful bug stomac and i am 11 weeks....am worried about my unborn baby...please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Jan 2019 - 16:12

    Hi - Thank you for your message.
    Stomach bugs are common in pregnancy. It is very unlikely that your baby will be harmed from a bug lasting less than 48 hours.
    Stomach bugs can very tiring. Try to look after yourself if you catch one.

    Here are a few things to do if you have a stomach bug.
    Don’t panic if you do have diarrhoea and vomiting.
    Make sure you rest as much as possible.
    Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
    Eat small, light meals if you are hungry and it doesn't make you feel sick.

    If you don’t eat for 24 hours don’t worry but make sure you drink plenty of fluid.
    Wash your hands before and after going to the toilet and after vomiting.

    See your GP if:
    the diarrhoea or vomiting does not go away within 48 hours
    you are unable to keep any fluids down.
    If you can’t get to your GP surgery you may be able to organise a telephone appointment.

    DO NOT take any medication to stop diarrhoea in pregnancy, such as Imodium, without speaking to your GP, midwife or pharmacist first.

    There are many medicines that can be unsafe to take during pregnancy. So it’s always best to ask your doctor, midwife, pharmacist or dentist before you take anything. Find out more about drugs and medicines in pregnancy.

    Speak to your GP, midwife or a hospital doctor as soon as possible if you have:
    a fever
    any stomach pain
    very dark wee
    bloody diarrhoea or bleeding from your bottom.
    You may have dehydration or a gastrointestinal problem and need treatment

  • By E (not verified) on 8 Jan 2019 - 09:52

    Hello, I am 23 weeks and a day pregnant. Recently i have had a lot of pressure on my vagina and also stomach pains and the need to go toilet to poo and when I do this it hurts. The first two days I was waking up late at night with pains and to go toilet and now it has calmed down a little bit. I have had two previous late miscarriages around 23 week period of my pregnancy. On my second miscarriage I has the emergency cervical stitch put into place but wasn't successful and now on my 3rd pregnancy I was advised my my doc to place the cervical stictich in around 14 weeks due to my weak cervix and have had it ever since. So I was wondering whether my stomach pains are a sign that there is something going on with my cervix and whether I should go and get my self check or if am just over reacting and shouldn't worry. Usually for my previous 2 miscarriages I had bleeding and cramps and the need to go toilet but in this one I just have the cramps and need to go toilet without the bleeding but my discharge is a yellow green colour.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Jan 2019 - 10:44

    Thank you fore your message to Tommy's. I am so sorry to hear of your 2 previous losses - I hope you were well cared for and supported during such difficult times.
    Given your history, I would advise you contact your maternity unit urgently and discuss your concerns - they should hopefully see you asap just to make sure all is ok with this pregnancy.

  • By Lesa (not verified) on 6 Jan 2019 - 22:36

    I'm 8 weeks pregnant I have lived abdomen pain on the left side and back pain more especially at night. I went for a scan last week and there was nothing wrong. I'm worried because I have this pain everyday. What may be the cause?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Jan 2019 - 10:51

    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.

    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.

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