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.

Follow Tommy's PregnancyHub on Instagram

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 Zee (not verified) on 23 Mar 2020 - 00:22

      Hi, I've not seen my period for like three months now and every pregnancy strip tests negative. But lately I have been having this cramps and it's completely uncomfortable

    • By tily (not verified) on 17 Mar 2020 - 20:16

      I have missed my period for 2 weeks now something I feel some mild pain and cramps as if my period want to come but it does not come am I pregnant

    • By selyn (not verified) on 23 Mar 2020 - 09:14

      Mild abdominal pain am i pregnant

    • By Nwabisa (not verified) on 23 Mar 2020 - 13:29

      Go And buy a pregnancy test, it might be a sign that you are pregnant

    • By Becka (not verified) on 13 Mar 2020 - 12:48

      Hi, I missed my period for the pass 3wks now, when for a blood pregnancy test, it came out positive, but am feeling very heavy, tired, always want to sleep, feeling very full in my stomach, bloated, and some cramps, is all this normal in early pregnancy?

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 6 Mar 2020 - 00:20

      Hi I have left side abdominal pain for 3 days can I say I am pregnant

    • By Marge (not verified) on 25 Mar 2020 - 02:27

      If the pain is unbrarable at anytime you should go see a Doctor. Maybe ask for a scan or ultrasound. My last pregnancy started off with a pain and some bleeding which i thought was spotting. Turned out it was an ectopic which led to me losing a fallopian tube because by the time it got detected, the fallopian tube had ruptured and i needed emergency surgery. Trust me, it's one of the worse things to ever happen to any woman.

    • By Oladd (not verified) on 2 Mar 2020 - 15:32

      01:20
      Hi I will be 9weeks on Tuesday I had my scan last week and they couldn't find a heart beat got to go back on Friday I've been having cramps and I have been bleeding for a week now it's like a period is this normal

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 5 Mar 2020 - 20:35

      Doesn't sound like it. This could be a miscarriage. Go to the ER immediately!!

    • By Yalda Murad (not verified) on 6 Mar 2020 - 00:16

      Sorry to say but I don’t think it’s normal

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 19 Mar 2020 - 02:28

      I miscarried nov.7 2019. I was 12 weeks pregnant. I was experiencing cramps and a slight wipe of blood after urinating. Went to the doctor and discovered the news. Good luck

    • By Lerato (not verified) on 19 Feb 2020 - 14:02

      Hi I'm 10weeks with my second child an my first child was a ceaser . I been having a terrible pain on my left leg from hip going down an the back the pain doesn't want to go away even wen I change positions an my Doctor says its normal. I'm worried .please help

    • By Tye (not verified) on 8 Mar 2020 - 00:08

      Hello, my first child I had a year ago as of this month and I am 11 weeks pregnant. The pain in the legs is normal your body is adjusting to the pregnancy quicker then your first. Stretching reliefs it very much.

    • By Bau Fongtoy (not verified) on 5 Feb 2020 - 10:49

      Last month i had my period,and after my period finished i have stomach cramp and its nearly 2 weeks now.

    • By Precious (not verified) on 2 Feb 2020 - 18:53

      Hello, am precious, I have been having severe stomach pain since one month now after seeing my period on 2 Jan and again on 25.pls I want to know what could be the cause

    • By Ally (not verified) on 1 Feb 2020 - 01:20

      Hi I will be 9weeks on Tuesday I had my scan last week and they couldn't find a heart beat got to go back on Friday I've been having cramps and I have been bleeding for a week now it's like a period is this normal

    • By Lauren smith (not verified) on 30 Jan 2020 - 14:13

      Hi im 24 weeks pregnant and have been experiencing lower abdomen cramps for a few hours now theyre very dull and achey and theyre coming and going very often they feel like bad period cramps, do i have anything to worry about ?

    • By Mitch matta (not verified) on 27 Feb 2020 - 16:26

      Can you tell us what i am suppose to so

    • By Agatha Ifegbu (not verified) on 29 Jan 2020 - 11:00

      Hi. Am 22 weeks now, Please I have been having stomach pain at the right side of my stomach for sometime now. It goes and comes back again especially in the middle of the night and early in the morning. Is it normal or is their cause for alarm?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jan 2020 - 11:13

      Dear Agatha. Abdominal pain at any gestation of pregnancy is abnormal until proven otherwise and needs urgent review. Please go into be seen by a Doctor/Midwife as soon as you can. Take care of yourself. Tommy's Midwife

    • By Clarantia (not verified) on 27 Jan 2020 - 16:27

      I was on my period on the 4-8 jan-2020.. and I had unprotected sex on the 13,14,16 . After that I feel pain on my stomach lower part , back pain and headache with dizzyness sometimes and 3days back I started to have flu and I'm not eating well... Am I pregnant?

    • 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.

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