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

    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 Lowri (not verified) on 2 Jul 2018 - 14:46

      Hi ,

      I am 22 weeks pregnant and have a dull ache below belly button which doesn’t last longer than 15 minutes. It almost feels similar to period pain/ache. I have not had any unusual discharge/ bleeding and have felt baby moving.

      What could be causing the discomfort?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Jul 2018 - 16:13

      Hi Lowri
      Abdominal pain at 22 weeks should always be investigated. Please call your maternity unit and arrange to be seen today. Reassuring that baby is moving well but best to get checked out. Take care x

    • By Rhoda (not verified) on 27 Jun 2018 - 13:03

      I last saw my menses on 13/5/18 had sex on 20/5/18 and took my IUD off on 22/5/18 and haven't seen my period again. I haven't tested for pregnancy with a teste kit twice but it's negative.iam having a little cramps , urinates frequently.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Jun 2018 - 12:09

      You could be in the early stages of pregnancy- your hormone levels may not yet be high enough to be detected by the test kits; However these are very sensitive and can detect pregnancy from as early as 8 days after conception.
      If your period still doesn't come and the tests are negative again I would advise that you discuss this with your GP.

      I have added some links with more information for you
      https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/planning-pregnancy/taking-pregnancy-test
      https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-test/

    • By Portia (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 23:27

      Pls I'm 25 weeks feeling pain in my right side of my stomach n light abdominal pain is on n off is it normal

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:26

      Hi Portia,
      If you are having on going pain then it is important that you contact your maternity unit to be reviewed to make sure everything is ok.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Blanche (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 23:25

      I wanted an abortion an I inserted 2 tablets of misoprostol into my anus and drank 2. Is this the proper way of doing it? I'm 60 days pregnant.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:11

      Hi Blanche,
      If you are wanting an abortion it is very important that you seek medical support and do this through a clinic who can prescribe the appropriate medication and give you support when you are going through the abortion. I am unsure the dose of the tablets that you are prescribing however misoprostol would not be given into your anus. Please do get help as you may have taken too much medication.
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Nashy (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 23:22

      Hello. I feel so uncomfortable at times and it pisses me off. What can be the issue with me? I'm 54 days pregnant.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:06

      Hi Nashy,
      In what way are you uncomfortable? Are you in pain? We would need a little bit more information to help you. Feel free to email us [email protected] so we can discuss this with you further.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Rubi (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 15:12

      i have pain in lower side long time daily.
      Plz help what i do ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:04

      Hi Rubi,
      You do not say how many weeks pregnant you are but if you are having on going pain then we would always advise for you to see your midwife or GP for a review.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Amanda (not verified) on 20 Jun 2018 - 21:01

      Hello I was supposed to get my monthly on the 3rd of June didn't get it... Took a pregnancy test, actually 3! All, positive. My stomach has been hurting non stop since I found out. Can't eat makes it worse, I am bloated as well. No bleeding.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:03

      Hi Amanda,
      If you are having on going pain then we would advise for you to see your GP for a review, it is great that you are not having any bleeding but all on going pain should be checked out.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Chioma (not verified) on 16 Jun 2018 - 23:01

      I feel severe pain in my left side of my tommy

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Jun 2018 - 11:48

      Hi Chioma, Thank you for your comment.
      Apologies for the delay in our reply, we hope that the pain you were experiencing has subsided. If you get further abdominal pain in pregnancy then we would recommend that you seek medical advice from your midwife or GP as any pain in pregnancy needs to be assessed. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By B.B (not verified) on 15 Jun 2018 - 00:11

      I feel am pregnant, I went for malaria and typhoid ,it came out negative and and went for a pregnant test which came out negative. But I have been having this symptoms, back pain and waist pain, within the first week I lost appetite for food, but this the second week and am always hungry like every minute,my breast is tender and tingling, I don't want to hear anything that smells, I urinate frequently making the toilet my friend, am always tired ,dizzy and weak, I would walk a little space and would feel like sitting down. I cry at little things and I have catarrh, am always sweating, I eat little and my Tommy pumbs up, my button was out but now it inside,. I saw my period on the 17,5,2018,I have not experience my ovulation making it late , am only thinking if my period would come also. my ovulation date have passed and no since of ovulation,my Tommy feels like they are flying bubbles inside, I believe am pregnant,. am I really pregnant, pls reply me

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jun 2018 - 13:45

      Dear B.B,
      It is possible that you could be pregnant but it has been a little early for a pregnancy test to be able to pick up a the pregnancy hormones as they may not be high enough. If your period does not come in the next few days then I would suggest to take another pregnancy test. Either way if your symptoms continue then I would advise for you to see a doctor for a review and advice.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Jasmin (not verified) on 14 Jun 2018 - 23:47

      I am being a four months pregnant I sometime feel pain inside of the stomach.what would be the reason?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jun 2018 - 13:54

      Hi Jasmin,
      It is difficult to know the reason, sometimes there is no obvious reason, sometimes it can be due to a urine infection or ligament pain. I would suggest if this pain is on going then to speak with your midwife for review.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • 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

    • Pages

    Add new comment