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 24 Jun 2017 - 11:15

      Hi, I just recently took a test and got a very faint positive result. I've been booked in to see my midwife 6th July. The question I have is if it's normal to still feel like my period is going to come? The cramps I'm having aren't all that painful or anything, I just keep thinking my period is coming even though it's five days late with a positive test, however faint. It sounds ridiculous but I keep thinking it's a false positive and I've just tricked my body into a very late period.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 28 Jun 2017 - 14:39

      Hi, I also felt the cramps and gas that i usually feel when am about to have my period, but it never came. I took the test the day i was supposed to have my period and i got a positive. For almost the whole of 1st month of my pregnancy i had the same feeling but now its completely normal. I actually asked my sister then and she told me its normal, so i guess there is nothing to worry about

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jun 2017 - 14:37

      Hi, experiencing cramping in early pregnancy can be very normal as all the ligaments are stretching and the uterus is growing. It is reassuring that this has settled down and that you have no pain at all. If you have any more abdominal pain or bleeding then we would advice that you seek medical advice. We wish you the very best in your pregnancy. Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 22 Jun 2017 - 04:33

      i miss my period 1 week, but i hv sharp stomach pain tis one week..i not sure im pregnant or not.. i never have like tis pain b4

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2017 - 11:32

      Hi, if you have missed your period then you should do a pregnancy test to see if you are actually pregnant. If you are pregnant then it is advisable that you see a doctor as any severe abdominal pain in pregnancy needs to be assessed. If you aren't pregnant, then again if this pain is severe then you need to be seen by a doctor. Stomach pains can be caused by a number of things like constipation, trapped wind or a stomach bug that can cause loose stools and/or vomiting. If you are unsure of what to do and you are still in pain then please go and see your GP as they will be able to treat you if needed. Take Care Tommy's Midwives x

    • By striveness (not verified) on 4 Jul 2017 - 14:58

      stomach pain is too high each and every night

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jul 2017 - 11:43

      Thank you for your comment
      If you are having regular or severe stomach pains, it is important to contact your maternity unit for urgent advice-they make ask you to come to the unit for assessment and tests to find out the cause of the pain and give treatment. I have attached a link with more information about stomach pain in pregnancy-
      Please contact us again for more advice or call our PregnancyLine on 0800 0147 800 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
      I hope this helps
      Take care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Jun 2017 - 08:17

      Um 5weeks pregnant nd I can't sleep feeling pains in my stomach nd when I go to bathroom I c some spotting of blood nd 2moro I have an appointment with my doctor so um so stressed as last yr I had miscarriage so I can't really loose dis one 2, I really need dis baby plz help wat should I do to stop bleeding nd dis cramps.... #Cindy

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jun 2017 - 09:57

      Hi Cindy
      At 5 weeks pregnant there can be many reasons for spotting/bleeding. Many women who do have bleeding at this stage go on to have normal pregnancies and a healthy outcome and the spotting is linked to implantation. However, I would suggest that you arrange to see your GP or midwife who may refer you to an Early pregnancy unit (EPU) for assessment and blood tests. You can read about the many reasons for bleeding before 12 weeks on this link . I hope this helps and good luck x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 17 Jun 2017 - 00:58

      I understand your worry. Try your best to stay relaxed for you and your baby. Every pregnancy is different and some bleeding is common. With any symptom you're curious about, stay in contact with your OB. Keep moving forward with your best prenatal care and take it easy on your body as it may be a little sensitive considering your history. Hopefully your job isn't taking a large toll on you, but nonetheless always remember that your body is designed to keep the baby healthy even when you don't feel like you are. Stay strong and positive. I hope your appointment went well.

    • By Lindsay Hunstad (not verified) on 27 May 2017 - 23:19

      Hi, I'm 13 weeks with #3 and I've been having pain in my lower rib cage and down to my abdomen. My GP checked everything as I was in pretty intense pain and baby is healthy and active and cervix length is great so no signs of preterm labor that would be the cause of my pain. I thought it might be indigestion but the pain isn't in my chest/throats like the symptoms are supposed to be. Also, my back muscles keep getting tighter and tighter. Any suggestions? The pain has been intense enough to keep me from sleeping and I'd really like it to stop. Thank you!

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 May 2017 - 09:25

      Hi Lindsay.
      I am really sorry to hear that you have been suffering with this pain. Any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy should be urgently reviewed. It would be a good idea if you have not already done so, to be seen in your local early pregnancy assessment unit- your GP can refer you or you can call them to find out if you can self refer too.
      If the pain is very severe,then i would urge you to go to a&e as a matter of urgency. please take good care of yourself.

    • By Renee (not verified) on 16 May 2017 - 18:15

      Hi.. I am 5 weeks and 6 days. And experiencing upper abdominal pain. It's not constant and feels like a bad period pain.
      I had a miscarriage a year ago and am a little concerned. Gp says it's normal pain. The pain is right in the middle of my rib cage if that makes sense.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 May 2017 - 09:12

      Hi Renee.
      Any abdominal pain should be investigated during pregnancy, although upper abdominal pain with a 5+6 week pregnancy doesn't sound pregnancy related. If the pain continues and you cannot get another GP appointment, then you could go to your a&e minors walk in centre to be checked over there. I wonder if you are experiencing early reflux or a gastrointestinal problem being that the pain is around your rib cage.
      Please take good care of yourself

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 15 May 2017 - 12:23

      Hi iam three weeks pregnent and ever since i took a pregnency test three weeks ago iam feeling abnomal pain almost every night accompanied by stomach acidic pain like..iam scared..should i be wooried???

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 May 2017 - 09:16

      Hi there.
      Abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy should be reviewed. It is possible that you are experiencing implantation bleed pain which can occur at 2-3 weeks gestation. But if you are concerned that this is ongoing, then please make an urgent GP appointment. They will then assess you and decide if you might need to be referred to your local early pregnancy assessment unit.
      Please take good care of yourself

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 May 2017 - 21:30

      I am 7weeks pregnancy with severe abdominal pains not sure if this is normal , the GP said there is nothing to worry about since am not bleeding but the pains is becoming unbearable please what can I do .

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 May 2017 - 10:42

      Hi, cramping in early pregnancy can be very normal and can be all the ligaments stretching as the pregnancy grows. However, if the pains that you are experiencing are severe then it would be advisable that you are seen, either by the GP or if you feel this pain is getting worse and need to be seen urgently or if you have any bleeding then you can go to your local A and E department. It sounds like if they are unbearable pains then you need to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Take care x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 May 2017 - 21:23

      Hi, I am 7 weeks pregnant with my 3rd and I have been experiencing severe abdominal pains which makes me visit the toilet often. I never experience this on my previous pregnncy and am very scared, spoke with my GP about it and she said there is nothing to worry about since there is no bleeding but the pains is becoming worst everyday what can I do please help.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 May 2017 - 10:21

      Hi, we hope that you are feeling a little better. Even though abdominal cramping can be normal in early pregnancy, we do advice that if this does become worse then you should seek medical advice. It could be that you may have a bit of a stomach bug if your are going to the toilet often but just to be safe I would still go and see your GP again if this pain is still getting worse or you have any bleeding. I hope this has helped, take care x

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 May 2017 - 16:15

      without a little more detail I am not sure whether this is something to be concerned about or not.

      Pregnancy discharge can increase but as long as it not offensive smelling, green, bloody or itchy it is probably normal for pregnancy.

      You mention stomach pain. In early pregnancy your uterus is growing and women do experience mild aches and pains. Sharp twinges and pulling or pinching sensations when you move are most likely to be ligament pain (in the pelvic or groin area and either side of belly button). Hormonal changes in pregnancy cause the ligaments which support your organs and growing uterus to soften and stretch - this allows your womb to grow and other organs to move - but can cause aches and sharp twinges. Usually change of position, rest and a warm bath or applying a heat pad will help to ease this discomfort. Paracetamol is also safe to take in pregnancy to ease pain (no more than 8 tablets in 24 hours). The discomfort should only be mild and occasional. Some women also experience mild cramping pains in pregnancy - this is due to increased congestion of blood in the pelvic region and the release of hormones called prostaglandins - which usually cause period pain during menstruation. Again this pain should only be mild and occasional - and improve with rest and heat. However, if you feel the pain is severe for you, or you have strong regular pain, burning when you pass urine or bleeding you need to see your GP or be referred to your nearest Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit.
      I hope this helps
      Anna - Tommy's Midwife

    • By Oluwakemi (not verified) on 8 May 2017 - 21:08

      I am 14 weeks pregnant and feeling dis d discharge started dis morning

    • By anonymous (not verified) on 23 Apr 2017 - 06:18

      hi there I'm also feeling sharp pains everyday.and they are very painful. still in the early weeks BT its hard even if I bend.what should I do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Apr 2017 - 09:58

      Hi - congratulations on your pregnancy!
      Some sharp intermittent pain is not uncommon in early pregnancy - the pains maybe caused by ligaments stretching to accommodate your pregnancy. however if the pain is ongoing and painful, as well as causing you discomfort please visit your GP who can advise and refer if necessary.
      Best of luck

    • By livie (not verified) on 18 Apr 2017 - 13:37

      Hi I don't know how many weeks pregnant I am cause I used I did a strip test,I'm scared and I have been having this sharp pain on either sides of my tummy and sharp back pain.please help me

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Apr 2017 - 14:16

      Congratulations on your pregnancy. I'm assuming you are still in the early stages of pregnancy - it isn't uncommon to experience some mild period like pain or occasional sharp pain where the ligaments are stretching to accommodate your pregnancy. However it is best to have any abdominal pain checked out by your doctor or midwife who can assess and advise on early pregnancy care too.
      If you are worried please contact your GP for a check up.

    • By (not verified) on 4 Apr 2017 - 09:35

      Hi, I'm 15 weeks gone n I'm having a lower abdominal swelling close to my pubic hair. In the first trimester, I had a troubled stomach ( I mean pain all over my stomach due to heat cos I've been having stomach heat since childhood) and after going for scan/checkup nothing was found wrong with me now that it has subsided, this early morning swelling of the lower abdomen; at times, it's a bit painful when I touch it but mostly I'm just uncomfortable with it. Pls help out. Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Apr 2017 - 12:12

      Hi-Thank you for your comment.
      It's difficult to say what could be causing the swelling, pain and discomfort that you describe. It could be that as the baby grows the pregnancy is starting to show. However given that you are also experiencing some pain and have had stomach problems earlier in the pregnancy, I would advise you to seek further advice and assessment from your GP if the pain is mild. If it becomes more severe, or there are other symptoms such as bleeding or fever for example, then to contact your Early pregnancy unit or A&E urgently.
      I have attached links to more information about stomach pain in pregnancy
      Hope this helps
      Please contact us on Tommy's PregnancyLine 0800 01470 800
      for further advice
      Take care

    • By Angel (not verified) on 2 Apr 2017 - 03:42

      Am just 3 weeks pregnant but I have been having pains in the stomach every night .

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Apr 2017 - 09:52

      Hi Angel. Abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be investigated urgently. It might be a sensible idea to go to your local early pregnancy assessment to be reviewed. They may offer you blood tests as well as a scan to look at how and where the pregnancy is growing. Please go to your GP, walk in centre or a&e minors if the pains are unbearable for urgent treatment. Please take good care of yourself!

    • By Beaarceo (not verified) on 24 Mar 2017 - 15:30

      So here it goes, whenever I take up my prenatal vitamins I always feel stomach pain and it really bothers me. Is this normal? What could be the reason for this? Though my ob says my baby is healthy, that my baby is development is fine but still this is a bit worrisome for me as first time mom and im so dissapointed since I cant get good answers from my ob whenever I raise this topic. Please help me

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Mar 2017 - 15:38

      Hi Beaarceo.
      So, we are based in the U.K, so I can only give advice that we would suggest over here. It should still be applicable to you though in the United States.
      Any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy should be investigated by your obstetric doctor or midwife at your local hospital triage/day assessment unit urgently. It may be that your stomach pains happen to coincide with you taking your pregnancy vitamins as it unlikely that these are causing the pain. But abdominal pain should not be ignored, especially if they are constant. It could be ligament stretching depending on the gestation of your pregnancy when you have growth spurt, but it is difficult to know this for sure without being reviewed first.
      Please take care of yourself!

    • By Nelle (not verified) on 19 Mar 2017 - 10:57


      Am currently pregnant with my 3rd child. My second pregnancy didn't end well as I miscarried at 22 weeks I am petrified I am going to go through that again and I have been feeling a burning sensation pains on either side (normally how I would feel if my period was to start) I am also experiencing a pain at the top of my stomach (by the rib cage) and it feels quite tender do I need to be worried? I am still trying to choose my midwife and I have my official dating scan next week.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Mar 2017 - 09:59

      Hi Nelle
      I am sorry to hear that you are not feeling very well at the moment and to hear about the loss of your baby at 22 weeks in your last pregnancy. It would certainly be sensible to make an emergency appointment at your GP for today. Any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be reviewed as soon as possible.It sounds like your GP will then need to refer you the your local early pregnancy assessment unit for early scan and bloods. Please take good care of yourself .

    • By waznah (not verified) on 17 Mar 2017 - 23:10

      Hi am a 33 week pregnent mother and am suffering from stomach ache I consult my doctor and he gave a kind of medicine to insert through veginal but after placing it I feel much pained so my be know the reason for it?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Mar 2017 - 09:23

      Hi Waznah. I would strongly recommend that you take yourself into hospital as soon as possible. Any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be reviewed by an obstetric doctor and midwife.
      It is unclear what the pessary's are for, but you certainly need to be reviewed soon in regards to the adbo pain at 33 weeks gestation.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 13 Mar 2017 - 09:12

      I am 33 & had a miscarriage around 2yrs back. from 6 months we are planning for a baby. but it don't happen. so we both had medical checkup. Everything is fine. But i am not getting pregnant. So now in this month i have not got my period. But i am getting stomach pain like usually it will get in my periods. Is this is a sign of pregnant or any problem is there?
      Please help me on this.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Mar 2017 - 10:55

      Hi. Sorry to hear that you had a miscarriage two years ago. Unfortunately it isn't possible to know whether this is a sign of pregnancy. Are you able to get a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant? Or if you have been trying to conceive for a while it would be a good idea to see your Doctor for advice at this stage. Best wishes

    • By adriana (not verified) on 14 Mar 2017 - 13:19

      Yes,it could be because you are pregnant.I felt period like pains in the first few days.Good luck to you

    • By Angie (not verified) on 10 Mar 2017 - 10:09

      This is my 2nd time preg. I had a misscarriage at 19. I'm now 26. N just found out I'm expecting. I'm so nervous n scared. Im happily married. But I have no one to talk to about y I'm nervous n scared. No one understands... Some1 plz help me

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Mar 2017 - 12:21

      I am sorry to hear how anxious and scared you are, pregnancy can bring up feelings like this especially after having a miscarriage before. It is really positive that you are reaching out for support and realising how you are feeling. If you do not feel that you can talk to your husband then you can thinking about speaking with your GP about how you are feeling or with the midwife when you are booked with one? They can support you through your pregnancy journey. Please know that we are here also for you, a team of midwives are available Monday to Friday 9-5pm to support you and talk with you about how you are feeling, you can either email us [email protected] or call 0800 0147 800. There is help and support out there, please do not feel alone through this time. Take care, Tommy's midwives.

    • By sunita danuwar (not verified) on 25 Feb 2017 - 09:15

      I have started yoga frm yesterday I feel painning so please I need advise ......that yoga should be done or notdone ...

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Feb 2017 - 10:13

      Hi Sunita
      Yoga (pregnancy yoga specifically) is perfectly safe to undertake in pregnancy if you have a low risk pregnancy. Please do check with your GP and/or midwife to ensure that you are well and suited to yoga in pregnancy.
      Abdominal pain at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be investigated as soon as possible at your local triage or labour ward if you are over 18 weeks gestation, or your GP/ early pregnancy assessment if you are less than 18 weeks gestation.
      Please take good care of yourself.

    • By hellen john (not verified) on 7 Mar 2017 - 20:02

      I want to know if I feel stomach pains during period

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Mar 2017 - 15:02

      Hi I'm not quite sure what you're asking. If you are pregnant you might experience period like pain in the first trimester as your baby develops and your womb and ligaments stretch to accommodate, baby, placenta and fluid. This can be quite worrying but it is very common.
      Please get back in contact if this isn't what you were asking!
      Best wishes
      Tommy's Midwives

    • By Beth (not verified) on 20 Feb 2017 - 20:08

      Now, when doing the worst thing, which is googling why you have something, I came upon this promising article... and i have been getting a stitch like pain/sensation in either side of my tum... however i have been on the pill for a year... can light be shed on this, i welcome it...

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Feb 2017 - 13:29

      Dear Beth,

      If you have been having this stitch like sensation on either side of your tum but are currently on the pill and not pregnant I would suggest making an appointment with your GP as this information is related to pregnancy.

      Best wishes
      Tommy's Midwives

    • By Mav (not verified) on 11 Feb 2017 - 13:32

      Hi I'm 23 weeks + 3 pregnant I'm still experiencing vomting I have lower abdominal pain with server back pain . I feel dizzy n extremely tired iv not gained much weight n u can hardly tell I'm pregnant. The pain is pushing down in your my abdominal n right on my pelvic bone .. what should I do ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Feb 2017 - 09:20

      Hi Mav. Any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy needs urgent review. In addition, feeling dizzy, and very tired could suggest that your iron levels are very low and could require some kind of treatment. It would be best, if you haven't already done so, to take yourself to your local labour ward as a matter of urgency with your pregnancy notes to be reviewed by a midwife and obstetric doctor. Please take good care of yourself!

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 8 Feb 2017 - 18:24

      This is my third pregnancy after a first late miscarriage at 18 weeks and a second at 8 weeks. I'm currently 15 weeks pregnant and quite anxious due to the sudden drop in symptoms since the second trimester began. I need constant reassurance frm my doc via ultrasounds that baby is ok since i dont feel any flutters or movements. In my last check i noticed the placenta was quite huge and right infront of the baby. I researched and found out abt anterior placentas. Would you be so kind to write a blog or article on anterior placentas and how a bereaved mother like myself needs to cope with the knowledge that that the kicks might be felt much later on. As if the patience requirement and sudden onset of comfort wasn't difficult enough. I want to be uncomfortable. It's my only reassurance that pregnancy is still on.

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