Stomach (abdominal) pain or cramps in pregnancy

Some pain and very light cramps in the stomach (abdominal) area in early pregnancy is not unusual.

Are cramps in pregnancy normal?

It’s completely understandable to worry about stomach pain in pregnancy and be anxious about this being a sign of miscarriage. But stomach pains or cramps are common in pregnancy and usually nothing to worry about.

Mild stomach pain in early pregnancy (during the first 12 weeks) is usually caused by your womb expanding, the ligaments stretching as your bump grows, hormones constipation or trapped wind. It may sometimes feel like a ‘stitch’ or mild period pain. It’s is probably nothing to worry about if the pain is mild and goes away when you change position, have a rest, do a poo or pass wind.

You may also feel light period-like discomfort or cramps at the end of your pregnancy. This is nothing to worry about, but call your midwife if you have any concerns.

When should I report stomach pain in pregnancy?

Stomach pain can be very worrying for pregnant women. Pain can make you fear the worst, such as a miscarriage. It’s important to listen to your own instincts. If you are worried about any pains you’re having, or you just feel like something is wrong, contact your midwife. Don’t be concerned about wasting anyone’s time. It’s always best to get things checked out.

If you are having persistent stomach pain (pain that won’t go away) or cramping, or if the pain comes on suddenly it should be checked by a doctor or midwife immediately.

What stomach pain and cramps should I look out for in pregnancy?

Most stomach pain and cramps in pregnancy are nothing to worry about. But there are some symptoms you should know about as they could be a sign of something more serious.

If you feel any of the following pains, even if you're not experiencing any of the other symptoms listed, call your midwife, doctor or hospital immediately.

Severe pain on one side of the lower stomach in early pregnancy
This pain could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. Other symptoms may include:

Severe cramps in your stomach with or without bleeding that lasts for several hours 
This could be a sign of a miscarriage or placental abruption.

Regular painful contractions/cramps before 37 weeks
This could be a sign of premature labour, especially if you also have:

  • either a slow trickle or a gush of clear or pinkish fluid from the vagina or any increase in vaginal discharge
  • backache that’s unusual for you
  • cramps like strong period pains
  • a feeling of pressure in the lowest part of your stomach (pelvis).

Severe pain in your stomach that doesn’t go away
This pain could be a sign of placental abruption. Other symptoms may include:

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

Pain in the upper stomach 

Pain just under the ribs is common in later pregnancy because your baby is growing and the uterus is pushing up under the ribs. But if this pain is bad or persistent, particularly on the right side, it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Other symptoms may include:

  • a sudden increase in swelling in your face, hands or feet
  • a very bad headache or a dull headache that won’t go away
  • problems with your vision, such as blurring or flashing lights
  • vomiting or just generally feeling unwell.

Pre-eclampsia usually develops in the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks). 

Lower stomach pain or dull back pain 

Call your midwife if you have this pain and one or more of the following:

    • pain or discomfort when weeing
    • a need to wee often (on its own this is common in a normal pregnancy)
    • a raised temperature  (over 37.5°C)
    • wee that smells bad, is cloudy or bloody
    • feeling sick (nausea) and vomiting.

These are symptoms of an urinary tract infection. It's not an emergency but should be treated as soon as possible.

What other kind of stomach pain should I expect?

Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions are a sign that the muscles of your womb are tightening. This can happen from as early as 16 weeks, but are more common in later pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks’ contractions are:

  • irregular (more than 10 minutes apart)
  • short-lasting
  • uncomfortable more than painful.

You do not need to contact your maternity unit or midwife unless your contractions become painful and regular (less than 10 minutes apart).

Contractions/cramps after 37-40 weeks could be a sign of the early stages of labour. This is called latent phase of labour.

Read about our pregnancy insider's experience of aches and pains during pregnancy.

Read more

Sources

NHS Choices. Stomach pain in pregnancy https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/stomach-pain-abdominal-cramp-pregnant/ (Page last reviewed: 01/05/2018. Next review due: 01/05/2021)

NHS Choices. Premature labour and birth https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/premature-early-labour/ (Page last reviewed: 29/11/2017. Next review due: 29/11/2020)

NHS Choices Pre-eclampsia https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pre-eclampsia/ (Page last reviewed: 07/06/2018 Next review due: 07/06/2021)

NHS (2017) Urinary tract infections www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/ (Page last reviewed: 12/12/2017 Next review due:12/12/2020)

NHS (2017) You and your baby at 33-36 weeks pregnant www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-weeks-33-34-35-36/ (Page last reviewed: 17/07/2018 Next review due:17/07/2021)

Hide details

Waterbabies logo

Last reviewed on September 28th, 2018. Next review date September 28th, 2021.

Was this information useful?

Yes No

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • By Entu (not verified) on 7 Jun 2018 - 06:18

    My last period was April 13 always regular period Pregnancy had a small bleeding before few days went to the hospital gave me some medication and was fine
    I am having all the signs of Back pains, vomiting, headaches, no food appetite stomach pain) and my hormonal assay blood was <2.39. So can you please advice me.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Jun 2018 - 14:43

    Hi Entu, Thank you for your comment.

    It is difficult to understand what you are asking? Have you experienced a miscarriage or are you still pregnant and have had some bleeding? it sounds like you are experiencing symptoms of pregnancy but if you could provide further information then we will be able to give you further advice. Many Thanks, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By entu (not verified) on 7 Jun 2018 - 06:10

    Good Day.

  • By leanne (not verified) on 5 Jun 2018 - 01:57

    Hi im now 11 weeks pregnant and ive had constant stomache ache for 3 days now it feels like its my whole belly that aches. I have been able to eat and drink as normal but ive been feeling thirsty more than usual ive had no vomiting or bleeding/spottings I have been going to the toilet quite regular and my bowels have been ok i have been gettin really warm and clammy most of the time through day and night I have had a very premature baby in the past that was born at 23 weeks I dnt have a midwife yet as im still waiting so ive not yet had my first scan im jst unsure of what I should do and would like some advise from you please and thank you x

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jun 2018 - 14:23

    Hi Leanne,

    Thank you for contacting us. In view of your previous history of having a prem baby i would like you to be seen. Please call your local maternity unit to discuss and arrange an assessment.

  • By Bella P (not verified) on 4 Jun 2018 - 20:39

    Hello, had my second scan at 12 weeks today. All was fine with baby but this time the consultant struggled to get a good view to do the screening, so had to press very hard on my stomach. She also had to press up and down a lot to make baby move to another position, the whole thing was incredibly painful, I believe because I have had several surgeries to treat ovarian cysts, endometriosis and adhesions, the last one being in Oct 17. I’m still in a lot of pain and can barely move, I’m now also getting stabbing pains in my vaginal area. Can an ultrasound affect the baby and should I seek assistance? Thank you, Bella

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Jun 2018 - 12:03

    Hi Bella
    We have a general rule as midwives - any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be reviewed by a midwife/obstetric doctor as soon as possible. Both to put your mind at ease and to rule out any potential problems. So if you you have not already done so, please do go get yourself seen in your local pregnancy triage/labour ward/ day assessment unit. Don't forget to take your pregnancy notes with you too!
    All the best! Sophie ,Tommy's Midwife

  • By BElla (not verified) on 14 Jun 2018 - 05:47

    Thanks for your advice, the pain did subside after a few days. Hopefully my next scan won’t be as painful. Best wishes, B

  • By Sandee (not verified) on 4 Jun 2018 - 12:04

    Hi Tommy's midwife

    My period due date is 03rd of June 2018. But it's not coming yet.im having stomach pain and light bleeding since yesterday.
    My last period was 6 the of May and I had unprotect sex in 16 the of May. And 19 the of May I had listening spots in my pant.
    My home !are pregnancy test is negative.but I want a baby .please can I know I am pregnant.
    Thank you

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Jun 2018 - 12:16

    Hi Sandee
    You period is only 3 days late at the moment, so a pregnancy test is likely to not be able to detect a pregnancy accurately just yet. Do a pregnancy test again when you are 7 days late for your period and this should then give an accurate positive or negative result.
    Trying for a baby can take up to one year if you have recently come off contraception - so please don't worry if this is your first month of trying.
    It is possible that the light spotting you are experiencing is your period starting also. You can track when you are ovulating to try to maximize your chance of getting pregnant - see link below
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/planning-pregnancy/ovulation-calculator
    We also recommend that you start taking pregnancy vitamins including folic acid when trying to conceive a pregnancy for a nice healthy start.
    All the best, Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By masha (not verified) on 31 May 2018 - 08:15

    Am 40 days pregnant but am in pain it feel like period pain or ruuning stomach an it come in the middle of the night but the is no blodd or discharge

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Jun 2018 - 10:36

    Hi masha,
    I am unsure if you meant that you were 40 days or 40 weeks pregnant, however is it reassuring that you are not having any bleeding but if you are having pain then you need to speak with your doctor or midwife to be assessed as soon as possible.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By i bahijat (not verified) on 30 May 2018 - 23:59

    im five month pregnant and my stomoch is pain me i hope that is not efect my pregnant

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Jun 2018 - 10:31

    Hi,
    If you are having pain in your pregnancy then we always advise to contact your midwife or health professional as soon as possible for a review.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Marianne (not verified) on 29 May 2018 - 09:33

    Hi I am 7 weeks pregnant I had an early scan at 5 weeks 2 days and pregnancy in correct place.i am high risk.i have been taking cyclogest for 2 weeks.this morning I am getting bad stitch like pain in my left side and lower back but no bleeding.should i be worried? The pain is quite bad ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 May 2018 - 11:38

    Hi Marianne
    Abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be reviewed asap, so please make an urgent appointment to be seen by your GP/Early pregnancy assessment unit, or A&E if the pain is very bad. Take good care of yourself
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 May 2018 - 20:19

    Hello i had unprotected sex on the 18th of may and took a night before pill on the 19th. On the 23rd i started having heavy bleeding, i dont feel myself at all and im having cramps and diaree.peeing alot with headaces. Am i pregnant or am i having a miscarriage? Please advise

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 May 2018 - 11:42

    Hi,
    it sounds like you need to be reviewed by your GP asap.Any unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy, so you will need to do a pregnancy test too. If the pain and heavy bleeding is still there or has gotten significantly worse, then you need to go to hospital for review in A&E asap as it has now been a few days since you sent this message. .
    Please take good care of yourself .
    Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Gracie (not verified) on 27 May 2018 - 02:39

    I'm 11 weeks & 4 days pregnant & have been having stomach pain & sometimes back pain most days from around 7 weeks. Because of 2 previous miscarriages I've had 2 scans, one at 7 weeks & days & the other at 9 weeks & 5 days. The baby was fine at both scans but I'm still scared. What can be causing these pains? It started with trapped wind type pains around the belly button, then sometimes feels like mild period pains or stretching pain. I've got Endometriosis but heard pregnancy would calm any pain down. I've also had 2 open surgeries for Endometriosis so have a midline scar & a bikini line scar, could that be to do with it? I have my 12 week scan next week & am terrified it's gonna be another loss. I'm 41 & this was an IVF pregnancy so pretty much my last chance.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 May 2018 - 12:00

    Hi Gracie
    I am sorry to hear of your previous pregnancy losses and that you are having a difficult time in this pregnancy too.
    I think it would be sensible for you to go into your local early pregnancy assessment unit to be reviewed asap (you can be referred by your GP unless you already know how to get in touch with them via your early scans.) Any abdominal pain, at any gestation should be investigated at each episode of pain. Please dont delay in going in as soon as you can be seen, and if it is out of hours, please go via minors A&E for review.
    All the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Lily (not verified) on 24 May 2018 - 21:42

    I'm 7w pregnant and been having non stop stomach aches. Like when you eat something bad. Is this normal?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 25 May 2018 - 10:37

    Hi Lily,
    Having some cramps in early pregnancy can be very normal however as you say they are non stop and sound like you are having them all the time then it may be a good idea to see your GP for review, especially if you have any bleeding and/or feeling unwell too.
    Best wishes,
    Tommy's midwives

  • By Virtue Zeal (not verified) on 21 May 2018 - 16:23

    I think I am pregnant. I have lot of pains. My husband isn't caring because we don't want a baby. So I want to ask, if my period is coming will I have pains. You can contact me on my Facebook page, thanks.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 May 2018 - 09:27

    Hi Virtue, Thank you for your comment.

    You can have pain before the start of you period and this is normal but if you think that you are pregnant then it is advisable that you do a pregnancy test first, then you can talk about this with your husband. Hope this helps, Take care, Tommy's Midwives xx

  • By Jyoti (not verified) on 17 May 2018 - 09:32

    Hey I am suffering from abdominal pain or a burning sensation in my left side or some in whole stomach from last one week . Should I wait to miss period of dis month I don't understand any thing and my left leg is paining both the pain are not actually to bad but annoying ... And also hot tummy plz advice

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 May 2018 - 14:00

    Hi Jyoti,

    It is difficult to know what is causing this abdominal pain but as this pain has been there over a week and it is now in your leg then we would suggest that you need to be seen by a doctor. As you say you are waiting to miss a period then we take it that you have been trying for a baby. If this is right then again please see our GP because of this left sided pain, any pain in early pregnancy needs to be checked. It could be something like a urine infection that will need to be treated but please contact your GP and be assessed. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Julie (not verified) on 15 May 2018 - 17:17

    Hi I am 22weeks and I am having a constant ache and sometimes stingy pain in my upper abdomen. I also have some intermittent very painful sensation in the belly button area. I currently take a high dose of clexane for a PE.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 May 2018 - 12:17

    Hi Julie, Thank you for your comment.
    With any abdominal pain we would recommend that you are seen at your local Antenatal assessment unit. If you are also taking clexane for a PE then again this is another reason to be seen at the hospital. If you haven't done so already, please call your local Antenatal day unit and be seen. Take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By juliet (not verified) on 15 May 2018 - 08:53

    am 2month pregnant i always feel hot sensation in right side of tummy sometimes it hurt all my tummy on bleeding pls help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 May 2018 - 10:12

    Hi Juliet
    Pain, especially when it is focused on one side more so than the other in early pregnancy, should be investigated as soon as possible at your local hospital. You may need a scan to ensure the pregnancy is in your uterus and not an ectopic which could be situated in one of your Fallopian tubes. Bleeding in early pregnancy, should also be investigated urgently. So please do get to your GP/Minors unit as soon as you can for a review. Mostly it will be good for your peace of mind.
    Please take good care of yourself.
    All the best
    Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By rose (not verified) on 13 May 2018 - 07:54

    since 3 weeks now, i have been having pains in my tommy ,the right side, sometime feel like vomiting, urinate frequently, thou have not miss my period.... I checked with home text but is negative, what wil I do, or I should wait till I miss my period

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 May 2018 - 16:49

    Hi Rose, If you have pain which is not resolving, you should arrange to see your doctor who may be able to help. Take care, Tommy's x

  • By Mahek (not verified) on 10 May 2018 - 01:34

    Hi my name is Mahek i just find out i am pregnant i dont know how many weeks when i want to doctor she check my urine she told me i am pregnant i was trying for 6 years to have baby but i could become pragent befere because my period was unbles not come on time some time come on evey 2 to 3 weeks some time 4 to 5 mouth dont come and i am also have datibes i take tables for that too . But last 2 mouth my period did not came i feeling really head pain my chest pain feel really painful feel reallly dizzy and feeling like vomiting agnna come out one night befere going to see docter i start feeling vomiting only one time but after that i feeling that more vomiting come up but it did not came then i make appointment with docter i told eveythink what going on with me she said check your urine Frist mybe you pregnant after 5 minits she check it she told me i am pregnant 2 line showing one is really light line she was told me i am unsure do blood test it will show eveythink is rit or wrong i done blaad test come out i am pregnant but i ask my docter how long i am pregnant for or how many weeks they say they cant told me in my blood test how many weeks i am pregnant. But after 2 to 3 weeks i am geting really bad pain in my left side on my belly dont know why i am not gertting any bleeding or anythink eles just left side of my belly pain i am really warried about this my first time baby such long time please hlpe me what to do they give me midwife appmanit end on this mouth on i think
    30th Many or i think 31th May.... please give me some Adivce what to do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 May 2018 - 10:18

    Hi Mahek,
    It sounds like a confusing and worrying time that you are experiencing at the moment. It is such fantastic news that you are pregnant after 6 years of trying to conceive.
    You describe feeling unwell and having constant and really bad pain on the left hand side of your belly. Due to these symptoms I would strongly advise you to see your GP. Sometimes pain can be caused by a urine infection or constipation, however more importantly an ectopic pregnancy needs to be ruled out, this is where the fertilised egg implants in your fallopian tube or outside of your uterus. It is great that you have not had any bleeding however it does sound like you need to be seen by your GP and to consider a scan.
    I hope this helps, please do be in touch if we can support you further.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwives

  • By Bella (not verified) on 2 May 2018 - 07:00

    I should be around 4 to 5 weeks pregnant and i lost the symptoms i only have bitter mouths and my eyes still turn I dont know if my baby is still there, my stomach has increased though

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 May 2018 - 13:07

    Hi Bella,

    Thank you for your comment. It can be very normal for pregnancy symptoms to come and go, some women don't experience any, whilst others can be sick every day, everyone can experience them differently. As long as you have had no abdominal pain or bleeding then this is reassuring. It does sound like you still have some pregnancy symptoms like bloating and a bitter taste in your mouth so again this is reassuring. It can be a long wait for your 12 week scan, try and keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids , take your pregnancy vitamins and eat well. If you have any concerns then please contact your GP who will be able to give you further advice. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By hannah (not verified) on 30 Apr 2018 - 18:22

    hello i keep getting bad lower left sided pain in my tummy it hurts rrally bad also bad back lower pain sometimes my belly gets really tight on the lower , i also get bleeding it comes then stops then goes and then stops i had it for abot a week now also i get brown blood i dont know what to do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 May 2018 - 10:49

    Hi Hannah,
    With any abdominal pain or bleeding in pregnancy we would advise that you seek medical advice and call your local maternity unit. Pain can be caused by a number of things like a urine infection but as you are describing the pain as coming and going then please contact your local antenatal day unit so that you can be seen. Hope this helps, Take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By lara (not verified) on 25 Apr 2018 - 09:49

    I have been feeling stomachpain and back pain since 4 days now and my pregnant is 36 weeks now,sometimes I feel like having diarrhea or pelvic pain seriously, is it sign of labor or what?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Apr 2018 - 10:43

    Hi - Thank you for your message. Congratulations on your pregnancy. Whilst some women may experience Braxton Hick contractions it is always best to contact your midwife or maternity unit for advice. If the tightenings continue, especially if you are less than 37 weeks pregnant, then it is more important to contact them and be reviewed.

  • By Sud (not verified) on 25 Apr 2018 - 03:46

    Hi,

    I was 4 days late for my periods with 2 negative HPT I started my periods on 16/4
    It finished on 22/4 but still I am having cramps lower abdomain as well as back pain
    I am confused is I am suffering from something else.I have 28 days cycle I am normally on time had a scan no cist .please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Apr 2018 - 11:17

    Hi- Thank you for your message. If you are continuing to experience cramps and back pain after your period has ended it is important you are reviewed by your GP. Please arrange an appointment with your GP soon.

  • By Raissa (not verified) on 16 Apr 2018 - 17:27

    Hi I am really confused, I wasn't trying for a baby, but on the 2 March I had my period as usual on time no problem, then a week after I started sporting painless ,light pink audorless blood whuch lasted for near 10 day gor worried went to see my Gp, who referred me for a scan while waiting 4 my appointment, I started to have pains in my breast, felling hot breathless dizy; worries I took a preagnancy test on my second morning urine which was positive, I am surprised so A week later I took another test to know how long ckear blue it came negative , still no period i dont understand whats going on please help.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Apr 2018 - 10:44

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    Is it understandable that you are unsure of what is going on. Sometimes women fall pregnant and then miscarry when they don't even know that they are pregnant and think that it is just their period. Even after a miscarriage a pregnancy test can still show positive until the pregnancy hormone decreases and then a negative test will show.
    It would be advisable to go back and see your GP who can explain a little more. Are you till going for you scan? You may get more answers once you have had your scan. This is very confusing for you and it is important that you feel reassure and know what is happening as it is difficult to say at this time without further investigation which your GP should be able to help you with. Take Care Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Rozek (not verified) on 16 Apr 2018 - 09:17

    I feel pain in lower tummy. Or should i say baby area i feel it more than a weeks already and i feel dizy and have headache sometimes im worried

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Apr 2018 - 16:53

    Hi Rozek, If you have not had any bleeding it is most likely that all is well. Usually you have a scan at 12 weeks. Have you had it yet or is it due to be done soon? This should help to put your mind at rest.

  • Pages

Add new comment