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


NHS Choices. Stomach pain in pregnancy (Page last reviewed: 01/05/2018. Next review due: 01/05/2021)

NHS Choices. Premature labour and birth (Page last reviewed: 29/11/2017. Next review due: 29/11/2020)

NHS Choices Pre-eclampsia (Page last reviewed: 07/06/2018 Next review due: 07/06/2021)

NHS (2017) Urinary tract infections (Page last reviewed: 12/12/2017 Next review due:12/12/2020)

NHS (2017) You and your baby at 33-36 weeks pregnant (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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    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 14 Jan 2018 - 21:12

      I've been having stomach pain since early this morning when I woke and till this evening the pain is still persistent.pls is it OK.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jan 2018 - 11:39

      Hi, I am not able to answer this question without more details. How many weeks pregnant are you? If you are not able to contact your doctor or midwife, give us a call and we will do our best to advise what to do.

    • By Mimi (not verified) on 14 Jan 2018 - 05:32

      Ten days ago I was given an antibiotic for my infection but it seems not to good cefixime doesn't seem to work for one month pregnant what can i do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jan 2018 - 11:35

      Hi, If you still have symptoms of infection, go back to your GP who may be able to prescribe a different antibiotic. Best wishes

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Jan 2018 - 11:20

      Hi there
      I am almost at the last week of my pregnancy and I have been having severe pains in my abdomen and my thighs ache badly . Also I have pains all over my body . I don't know what to do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Jan 2018 - 11:26

      Hello, it sounds like you could be in early labour. However, Severe abdominal pain is a reason to get yourself into hospital urgently for review though. Contractions should build up intensity slowly, but severe pain is more ominous- so i really want you to take yourself in right now to be reviewed on the labour ward of your local hospital with your pregnancy notes. Don't even call them, just go in. Right now. Please!
      Best wishes
      Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Damilola (not verified) on 3 Jan 2018 - 22:20

      I am pregnant and still breastfeeding , i want to know if it is fine ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2018 - 15:59

      Hi Damilola,
      It is absolutely fine to continue to breastfeed whilst you are pregnant. There will be a time when your milk will change and you may find that your little one weans themselves off but for as long as it works for you as a family you can keep breastfeeding.

    • By Annonomous (not verified) on 3 Jan 2018 - 16:27

      Is it true that if you wear an underwired bra whilst pregnant then this may prevent you from producing milk for breastfeeding? I am 38 weeks but have no signs that my breasts are bigger, no tenderness and no leaking so worried I may not have any milk for breastfeeding

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2018 - 16:02

      Wearing an underwire bra will not stop you from producing milk. For some women they find that their breasts change in pregnancy therefore they become more uncomfortable but it is fine to keep wearing it if it is comfortable and fits well. Pregnancy is different for everyone, it is fine if you have not really noticed any change in your breasts and that you are not leaking, this does not mean that you wont be able to produce milk for breastfeeding.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 3 Jan 2018 - 02:57

      Im 19 weeks pregnant and the past 2 days when ive been going toilet i get cramps when i go toilet but its not every time i go. And i have also had diarrhea and then got constipated and im worried and this is my first baby.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Jan 2018 - 11:11

      Hi there. It sounds as if you may have a bug. Please stay well hydrated for the 24hours. If this persists over that, then i would advise that you visit your maternity unit for a review by a midwife and DR as this will then have been going on for more than 72 hours. Please take good care of yourself but have a low threshold for being seen if this continues for much longer. Please feel free to call us or email us if you need any further help or support.
      Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Dec 2017 - 17:06

      I am missing my menstrual cycle from last two months. About 6 months ago i visited the gynecologist for check up she told me about Hymenectomy. After the visit, menstrual cycle was perfect. I got married at the age of 18. My partner tried to have intercourse and released his sperms at opening area. i have light pain at my left lower abdomen and whole abdomen area is stretched. Is there any chances for getting pregrant?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Jan 2018 - 11:22

      Hi there. It is difficult to say for sure.If you have had unprotected sex and have not had a period for two months, then it might be sensible to do a pregnancy test.
      If this is positive and the abdo pain has continued, then it would be best to get an urgent review by your GP, or at an urgent care centre. Please take good care of yourself.
      Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

    • By Lydiah (not verified) on 26 Dec 2017 - 12:39

      I did my pregnancy test and I found it positive have been having back pain lower abdominal pain and pain in my breast is it normal and have ever visited any doctor

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Jan 2018 - 11:25

      Hi Lydiah
      Back pain and lower abdo pain, both need to be investigated urgently in pregnancy as they can be linked to both miscarriage an/or urinary tract infections which need to be treated urgently with antibiotics if found. So please do seek urgent medical advice and review if you have not already done so.
      Take care
      Sophie-Tommys Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 12 Dec 2017 - 00:11

      Hi, 24 weeks pregnant here.
      This whole Sleep on Side thing has really affected my mental state when sleeping, every time I roll onto my back, I wake up. I now have extremely broken sleep, my legs are aching like mad when I wake up in the morning and Im also having some cramping in the middle of the night, which wakes me up too.
      My partner wants to snuggle up in bed and watch a film and I feel bad as I have to sit upright like I'm on a chair.
      Im so tired, but I guess I might as well get used to that eh? Any ideas on the aching in my legs?
      Thanks x

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Dec 2017 - 16:04

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      It is really reassuring that you are starting to go to sleep on your side as this is what the new findings of the research recommend. Sleeping in pregnancy can be very uncomfortable and it is all about managing this and making it better for you. You can buy pregnancy pillows which allow you to sleep on your side while supporting your bump and in between you legs, this may be something you want to look into. Don't worry if you wake up on your back, just roll onto your side again.

      If your legs are really uncomfortable especially when you turn over, this may be caused by a condition in pregnancy called pelvic girdle pain. This can be cause by the hormones of pregnancy softening the joints of the pelvis as it widens to accommodate baby. This can be very debilitating and some women even end up using crutches. If this sounds familiar, then please contact you midwife or GP, they will be able to refer you to a women's physiotherapist and they will give you ways to try and make life more comfortable for you.

      Leg cramping can occur in pregnancy but as it is happening so much, you may want to go and see you GP so that he can examine you. The risk of DVT does increase during pregnancy so it is better to be seen if these craps are not getting better. Hope that this helps, if you would like to contact the Tommy's Midwives on 0800 0147 800 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm or email [email protected] we would be more then happy to answer any more questions for you. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 9 Dec 2017 - 21:55

      I just found out two days ago that im pregnant but I have really bad pain In lower abdominal n back im not feeling well n this happend last time as well I been keep telling my doctor thy said its normal in pregnancy but it was not normal thn I had miscarriage at three mounth I'm so scared again

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Dec 2017 - 12:58

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      Pregnancy after your have had a miscarriage can be a very anxious time and it is completely understandable that you are feeling this way and want to feel reassured. It has been a few days since you posted your comment so I hope that you are feeling a bit more comfortable. If you are still experiencing abdominal pain or if you have any bleeding, you can always be seen in your local early pregnancy unit, they will be able to assess you and give you any treatment if needed. Hope all is well, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Dec 2017 - 17:36

      I have too much cramp at mi feet n stomach,and too much painfull allover mi body n headache dizzy.I am not bleeding and these month it is mi last month to give birth I am pregnant.having too much pain at mi under stomach n I have diabetes type 1n am pregnant 9month

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Dec 2017 - 11:09

      Thank you for you comment

      If you are the end of your pregnancy and you are experiencing pain in your lower abdomen with headaches and feeling dizzy, it would be advisable that you contact your local Labour ward as soon as you can to be seen. They will also check your blood sugars to see if you have good control of these as well . Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Dec 2017 - 13:44

      Am 38 weeks pregnant and since last night I have been visiting the toilet, please I want to know if it's normal or I should visit the hospital.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Dec 2017 - 14:17

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      You don't say if you have been passing more urine or stools? But as you have been going to the toilet a lot and if this is with any pain then we would recommend that you call your local maternity unit. It could be that you have a tummy bug or a urine infection but you will need to be seen and checked over and if you need any treatment then this can be arranged. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By honey (not verified) on 1 Dec 2017 - 09:51

      I am feeling pain at my boobs...and eye turning, feeling tired, and uncomfortable, headache all the time.....but I have do a blood pregnant test and it is negative..... but I think it is too early to take the test I had a sex on Oct 4 and take the test on Nov 7....but I have never miss my period since then....plz can I be pregnant??
      really need a reply plss

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Dec 2017 - 12:16

      If you had intercourse on the 4th October and had a missed period since then a blood test would show a pregnancy if you had got pregnant. If your period still has not come and you are having these symptoms then do speak with your GP to be reviewed.

    • By Hina (not verified) on 27 Nov 2017 - 23:40

      Hi dear
      I hope u ok. Just saw all the msgs above n reply from u, thats v kind of u replyng evryone solving problems. I m lil upset as my 1st daughter is only 6months n i had really bad stomache nausea all day no energy i thought i cant b pregnent as we use precaution but still i thought i will check wid preg test. I did n it came out positive. I m very anxious that hows it posible, also my baby is too young yet but its been a week now n m having really bad cramps n pain in my tummy sometime unbearable. Any advice why its so? Thanku

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Nov 2017 - 16:00

      Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry to hear that you are feeling upset-however it is possible to get pregnant 6 months after having a baby. You can even become pregnant before your periods start again. No contraception is 100% effective
      I would advise that you speak to your GP about your stomach cramps or go to A+E if they are very severe to find out what could be causing the pain
      The cramps could be due to several reasons so its important to be checked in case there is a serious cause for the pain that may need treatment.
      I have attached some links with further information

      Hope this helps
      Take care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By carol (not verified) on 24 Nov 2017 - 08:23

      Hi momy,am feeling pain in the lower abdomen,backache,stomach crampng,fatigue and sometimes feel some movements in my stomach.I had an implant inserted in 2015 andremoved in september 5,2017.I saw my period in 6october and felt unusual,did the pregnancy test just there while bleeding but came out negative.Am feeling uncomfortable with these feelings now,can i be pregnant?really want to have one.Reply

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Nov 2017 - 16:56

      It is difficult to give you a definite answer, however from what you describe it does not sound like you are pregnant at the moment as you had a negative pregnancy test and you have had a recent period. If you do miss a period then just repeat the pregnancy test, in addition if you are planning a pregnancy then it is important to be taking a folic acid supplement if you are not already. If your symptoms continue with negative pregnancy tests then do speak with your GP to be reviewed to make sure that the symptoms are not due to something else.

    • By Lydia (not verified) on 28 Dec 2017 - 18:50

      Am pregnant, am thirteen weeks pregnant n having a lot of pain in my tommy, what can i do?.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Jan 2018 - 14:43

      Hi Lydia. Abdo pain, at any gestation of pregnancy should be addressed urgently by a visit to your local hospitals maternity unit. You should be assessed by a midwife and an obstetric doctor.
      Please take good care of yourself! Tommys Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 15 Nov 2017 - 06:00

      Hi, just need a little advise. My period has never been regular (estimated cycle around 35) but I know when my period coming through symptoms that I will usually gets. One of the most noticeable symptoms is my breast. Before my period is due (around 1 week or so) my breast will be tender and it hurts. For months it has always been like that.

      Now my period is 1 day due yet I don't feel any symptoms of my period is coming. My breast doesn't even feel any tender or pain.
      However, now I'm having mild cramps (bloated, stitch pain, gassy)very uncomfortable feeling, back ache, having headache time to time, moody.
      I'm not sure if its too early for me to check using pregnancy test kit. I can't afford to see the negative though. Appreciate your reply. Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Nov 2017 - 14:49

      Hello, Thank You for your comment.

      If you have been having unprotected sex and are not using any form of contraception then there is a chance that you could be pregnant.
      The symptoms you are describing could be signs that your period could come any day now but these symptoms could be pregnancy related. It would be advisable that you wait and see if you miss your period. As your periods have never been regular, then it may be worth waiting a few days to see if your period comes, if it doesn't then you should do a pregnancy test. You can always go to your local family planning clinic as they will offer free pregnancy testing for you. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By amyana (not verified) on 22 Nov 2017 - 01:05

      hi really appreciate your reply. As I mention earlier, I did not feel any tender breast before my period due which is so odd for me this month coz I usually experience tender breast at least a week before my period start.

      on 14 nov I notice a little blood only after I wipe. so I thought my period is starting. the next day I did bleed but very light. (my breast doesn't feel any tender)

      2nd day same thing. very light but last half a day. the rest of the day I have white discharge.
      3rd day no blood at all just white discharge.
      Am still having mild cramping although I'm not bleeding anymore

      Does this mean I'm pregnant and those were just implantation bleeding? But I thought implantation bleeding only occur before period is due.

      for the record, I did have sex with my husband and we are trying to have our first baby for the last 6mths. I'm still have not done the pregnancy test, still afraid of the disappointment. :)

      Thanks :))

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Nov 2017 - 10:43

      Hi Amyana.
      It is really difficult to say if you are pregnant or not without you doing a pregnancy test. I know it can cause a lot of anxiety - but it's the only way to know.
      Sometimes, periods can be lighter some months and your symptoms can less or more than usual (in relation to the tender breasts) but this is nothing to worry about. The white discharge could be thrush, so it would be a good idea to get a treatment for this at your local pharmacy/chemist regardless of if you might be pregnant or not as yeast infections can cause changes to the menstrual cycle. You can go to your GP to have a test done there and also to get referred to a gynae specialist if you are concerned about your menstrual cycle patters. Please take good care of yourself! Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Nov 2017 - 10:25

      Im 3 weeks and 4 day waiting if am pregnant i taking pregnacare since last month after my period. Theres any sign im feel tired and want to sleep headache and my tummy feel moving inside and heavy like tenderness my nipples hurting round ,craving some food everyday. When i wake up my tummy hurting like bursting and feel vomitting im worried because we waiting for another week before my prenancy test the bave 5 children already and im 45 please help me to save my early pregnany thank you

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Nov 2017 - 15:19

      It is normal to feel tired if you are pregnant. The best advice is to avoid alcohol and smoking, take folic acid (which is in pregnacare) and eat a normal healthy diet. If you feel unwell before you have a positive pregnancy test please see your doctor for advice. Best wishes

    • By Theodorah (not verified) on 3 Nov 2017 - 07:07

      Hey i am 40weeks and over days pregnant ive been having a pain that is not increasing or decreasing for 3 days what should i do?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Nov 2017 - 10:33

      I am afraid it is difficult to answer your question as I am unsure as to where your pain is and what type of pain you are experiencing. If you are having constant pain, or any bleeding, any concerns about baby's movements in particular then it is very important to ring your maternity unit to be seen as soon as possible. However if you are experiencing on going discomfort then it is still advisable to ring your maternity unit to talk this through with a midwife. Take care, Tommy's midwife

    • By Jess (not verified) on 1 Nov 2017 - 03:53

      I'm pregnant about 5 to 6 weeks they found a cyst on on my left side, after having pains and thinking it might be etopic, I now get horrible sharp pains that bring me to my knees. But no bleeding or spotting I feel like no one is taking me seriously about my pain and I can't see my obgyn for another 2 weeks!!

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Nov 2017 - 09:08

      Hi Jess, Congratulations on your pregnancy!
      So sorry to hear that you have been in pain with your cyst! If the pain is that severe, then it might be sensible to the Emergency Room! Especially if you cannot see your OBGYN for another 2 weeks! Abdo pain in pregnancy, related to pregnancy or not, should always be thoroughly investigated! Please take good care of yourself!
      Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 18 Oct 2017 - 20:22

      Hi,hv Been Having Dis Pain In My Stomach And My Back Nd Its Uncomfortable Nd Hv Went For Preg Test Wich Shows Negative Am Realy Confused Can U Hlp Me Out Pls

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Oct 2017 - 12:03

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      As you have had a negative pregnancy test then you aren't pregnant at this time. If you are still experiencing stomach pain and back ache then it would be advisable that you see your GP or if you need seeing urgently then you can be seen in your local A and E department and they will be able to investigate the cause of this pain further. Hope this helps, Take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 18 Oct 2017 - 16:18

      Hi,hv Bin Havn This Stomach Pain And Back Pain Since,and Hv Tested For Pregnancy Once It Came Out Negative .Realy Need Your Help On What Could Have Bin The Problem

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Oct 2017 - 11:57

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      As you have had a negative pregnancy test then you aren't pregnant at this time. If you are still experiencing stomach pain and back ache then it would be advisable that you see your GP or if you need seeing urgently then you can be seen in your local A and E department and they will be able to investigate the cause of this pain further. Hope this helps, Take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 17 Oct 2017 - 23:35

      There is a possibility that I may be pregnant ( awaiting to do test closer to missed period ) but I’ve heard a lot about folic acid however when I spoke to a pharmacist he stated that I should have the pregnacare trying for a baby ones however when I asked I informed him that I may be pregnant he stated that he wasn’t sure which one to take

      Can you please suggest which would be more suited

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Oct 2017 - 11:10

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      You will be fine to take pregnacare for pregnancy as this has all the recommended doses needing for pregnancy. The recommended doses are 400mcg of folic acid and 10mcg Vitamin D. Other brands of vitamins are available but again the pharmacist can advice you on what is available. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By joy (not verified) on 16 Oct 2017 - 20:37

      I have being having stomach pain and sillpery discharge and tenderness in breast,but I HV not see my period and I have done three times home test and is negative pls insurance me am perganat

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Oct 2017 - 09:03

      Hi Joy,

      Thanks for posting. I'm sorry you are in pain and unsure about pregnancy. Are your periods usually regular? Three consecutive negative pregnancy tests would suggest that you aren't pregnant. If you are not pregnant you need to find out what is causing the stomach pain and if the vaginal discharge is normal or if you have an infection.
      Please see your doctor and get checked out.

      Warmest regards
      Anna-Tommy's Midwives

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