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)

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

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Comments

Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Mar 2018 - 14:42

    Hi Shubh, Thank you for your comment.

    Even though you have been advised to rest you can still use your toilet at home if this is the only means of using the toilet. If you are still concerned then please speak to the Dr who has advised you to rest your pelvis and he may have some other suggestions if you don't feel comfortable using the toilet that you have at home. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Chantie (not verified) on 28 Mar 2018 - 15:54

    Hi I've been having some trouble with my period I did try to get pregnant.. But I did get my period of. 05 of February then on the 11th start spotting for a few days than after that the 17th got my period again all this is happening in Feb now its March supposed to got my period the 17th of March but didn't from 23 did see a spotting again very little
    Now I'm 12 days late
    Did took a pregnancy test it was negative
    Don't know what is wrong
    Could I be pregnant still get negative test
    My nerves is up my stomach also hurts

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Mar 2018 - 16:06

    Hi Chantie,
    No, if you have a negative pregnancy test then it is unlikely that you are pregnant. The tests are designed to pick up the presence of the pregnancy hormone hCG. For a pregnancy to be sustained this hormone level increases daily and would be picked up by the test. If you are worried about your periods please ask your doctor for advice.

  • By Lulu Sibeko (not verified) on 28 Mar 2018 - 05:06

    Im 20 weeks pregnant and I also have fibroids. My baby was situated at left side and right side is pretty much consumed by the fibroids but since yesterday my baby has moved down my belly button and she seems to be pushing down my cervix. I also had moderate pains in the last two days. Should I be worried. Please advice

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Mar 2018 - 10:19

    Hello Lulu, I am sorry that I can't really understand what is happening here. Most women with fibroids in pregnancy have no problems related, but the most common complication is pain and light bleeding. If you have abdominal pain you should be seen by your midwife to rule out anything serious. Take care

  • By Eleanor (not verified) on 20 Mar 2018 - 19:45

    Well I fell over when I was 13 weeks pregnant and my stomach went on to a step and since then I have been getting pains in my stomach I can't sleep I can't even walk without severe pain and I have been bleeding abnormally please need help I'm 3 months I've already had one miscarriage I can't go through another one it would kill me any room for help xxx

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Mar 2018 - 12:21

    Hi Eleanor,
    I am sorry to hear that you have had a fall. Its really important that you are seen to be reviewed especially as you are in pain and bleeding. I understand that you are feeling very worried and anxious as you have had a miscarriage before however it is really important that you are seen. You can call your GP today for a referral to the early pregnancy unit to check you and your baby.
    Best wishes, Tommy's midwife

  • By Carol (not verified) on 19 Mar 2018 - 13:11

    It's early days. I had sex days before my period. Eventually got my period which goes on for 5 days not 7 no more. 4weeks into this possibility of being pregnant and I've experienced most symptoms. Going into 5weeks and during my sleep I've just had these mild but continuous stomache aches. I can't sleep cause it occurs every couply minutes so I'm sitting up rocking my body to avoid feeling it agn. I need answers pls

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Mar 2018 - 15:42

    Hi Carol,
    I am wondering if you have had a positive pregnancy test or had confirmation of a pregnancy by a doctor? It may be sensible to see a doctor for reassurance. Best wishes

  • By Betty (not verified) on 17 Mar 2018 - 19:23

    Took a pregnancy test on 10th March around a week after what I assumed was my period. It came out as positive. Since 15th I've been having spotting and cramping. Took another test this morning (cb digital) but it says not pregnant. I'm confused now. Do I trust the negative or not?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Mar 2018 - 15:37

    Hi Betty, Most likely scenario is that your body started a pregnancy which didn't continue. This is very common. The statistics show that 1:6 known pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Try not to worry. There is a good chance that future pregnancies will be successful. Take another test in a week to confirm and see your GP if you are still concerned.

  • By Emma (not verified) on 17 Mar 2018 - 12:22

    My last period was 26/1, did 3 pregnancy tests and all were positive. Due to a previous miscarriage we paid for for an early pregnancy 6wk scan. A tiny sac was seen in my uterus but also a large dark area next to my ovary. I was rushed to hospital with a suspected ectopic. 7hrs later after scans, tests etc it was confirmed to be a cyst. I had hormone bloods taken that day which was 943 and then repeated 48hrs later. It had risen to 1400 but not doubled as it should. Repeated again 48hrs later and had only increased by 400 to 1800. I was told to go home and rest and have a scan in 2 weeks to see if the sac has grown and a heart beat is present. It has been the most awful week so far every day is dragging. I am trying very hard to stay positive and calm but its mental torture. I am not in any pain at all apart from a slight cramping feeling and a mild stitch. I have not bled and i still feel pregnant i.e. sore boobs, shattered, feeling sick and moody! Im so worried about every little twitch i have and it concerns me that my bloods hadn t risen as they should have. Is this normal or should i prepare for the worst? :-(

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Mar 2018 - 15:27

    I am so sorry that I can't give you any further information. You are correct that your hCG levels have not doubled as expected but they have still increased. Unfortunately there is nothing that you can do to change the situation. I regularly speak to women who had a 'reassurance scan' only to be left with more questions than answers. 7 weeks is the earliest that a fetal heart beat would be seen on scan. I hope that all will be well for you in the next few weeks. Best wishes

  • By Rupanshi (not verified) on 17 Mar 2018 - 09:44

    M 2 weeks pregnant.. I had my checkup n it was all normal.. I always have stomach pain when i eat anything.. .but as it is said it is important to eat more in pregnancy but always feel pain... Is it normal or is dere ny problem

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Mar 2018 - 15:14

    Hi Rupanshi. We don't recommend that pregnant women eat more than normal. Only in the last trimester when an extra 200 calories is needed. It is not normal to have pain when eating and I would suggest that you ask your doctor for advice regarding this. You may need to alter your diet but I would be reluctant to advise without knowing more about your circumstances. Best wishes

  • By Aneish (not verified) on 16 Mar 2018 - 02:24

    Hi my last month period was on Feb 2 2018 and am having serious back and belly pain mostly on the left side am concern because this is my first pregnancy please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Mar 2018 - 11:44

    Thank you for your comment.
    If you are having severe pain in your belly and side then you should see your GP or go to A+E for further tests to find out the cause of this pain. It is common to get pains like this in pregnancy but it's not normal if it is severe or not going away so should always be checked.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us again or call Tommy's PregnancyLine 0800 0147 800 for more advice
    Take care
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Pretty (not verified) on 15 Mar 2018 - 16:56

    Why is it always so common to feel some stomach pains at my early weeks of pregnancy. Just about 5weeks old. And I fat always

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Mar 2018 - 11:59

    Stomach pains are very common in early pregnancy-its often due to your hormones and your womb starting to grow as the baby develops
    It may feel like a 'stitch' or mild period pain, but is usually nothing to worry about if it is only occasionally happening
    However if the pain is very severe, not going away or if you experience any bleeding then you should contact your doctor or hospital for further assessment. I have attached a link with more information-

    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/symptom-checker/stomach-pain-pregnancy

    Hope this helps.
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By chichi (not verified) on 13 Mar 2018 - 18:53

    Hi
    I saw my period on 22 February i had sex with my husband on 1st march and i also had sex with him others days and my stomach is paining me i dnt know if i m preginant i m weak and having headache plzz help me especially on the left side of my stomach

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Mar 2018 - 15:45

    Hi, it is difficult to know what is happening for you. If you were to do a pregnancy test it maybe a little early for a true result. If you are feeling so unwell and having left sided pain then I would advise for you to be reviewed by the GP, they can do a blood test, which is more sensitive, to see if you are pregnant and review how you are feeling. Take care, Tommy's midwives.

  • By Nayyar (not verified) on 13 Mar 2018 - 07:38

    Hi
    My last period is on 30 Jan 2018 and it's finished on 6feb 2018 after that I missed my periods then I did the pregnancy test on 11 march 2018 it came positive. Before doing test I have got pain in my stomach and back I thought I I'll start the periods since 1 1/2 weeks I have got pain in stomach and abdomen I fell like nousea even I can't sleep on right hand side or left hand side i feel pain in stomach and abdomen this morning I started pain in stomach and back in left hand side.
    I ring the gp for the appointment they said on 27 march I have got the appointment of midwife
    Please tell me is it anything to worry about or not
    Thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Mar 2018 - 12:16

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    Mild crampy discomfort can be normal in early pregnancy as all the muscles and ligaments are stretching as the pregnancy grows. If your abdominal pain is becoming increased and is getting worse then we would recommend that you call your GP or early pregnancy unit to be assessed. Everyone experiences pain differently but with any abdominal pain or bleeding in pregnancy we would encourage women to be seen. Hope this helps, best wishes, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Adenike (not verified) on 13 Mar 2018 - 07:06

    I woke up in the middle of the night and I feel pain all in my Tommy but after a few ho
    urs I was so relieved. Any cause for Alarm?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Mar 2018 - 12:39

    Hi Adenike,
    I need a bit more information to be able to answer your question. How many weeks pregnant are you? Was the pain to do with your pregnancy or your digestion?
    Have you had any other symptoms that are worrying you like back ache, pain when passing urine, fever or bleeding?
    Hope you can get back in contact soon
    Anna- Tommy's Midwife

  • By Ellen (not verified) on 12 Mar 2018 - 20:46

    The last time I bled was Jan 6th but the month before I had a bleed beginning of Dec for a week came off for a week then bled for another week my bleed in Jan was only three days. I have my booking appointment on the 19 this of this month but I'm confused how far I am and why the funky extra bleed the month before my last bleed. My boobs are so much bigger and hurt all the time my clothes are getting tight any advice? This is pregnancy no 6 and I'm 37 years old

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Mar 2018 - 11:19

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    Sometimes women can have some spotting or a lighter bleed and they may think this is a period but it could be implantation bleeding. Every pregnancy is different but if you are unsure of your dates, then just let the midwife know at your booking appointment and then she will be able to refer you for an early dating scan and then you will be sure of your dates. Hope this helps, Take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By zinhle (not verified) on 5 Apr 2018 - 18:17

    hi I'm 4-5weeks pregnant started feeling pain in right side of and cramp on my right leg side so i want to know that is it normal or i have to worry please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Apr 2018 - 13:22

    Hi,
    Some mild cramps are common in early pregnancy, and could be due to implantation at this stage as well as your hormone levels changing. If your pain is on one side of your abdomen however, I would advise for you to see your GP for review just to make sure that the pregnancy is settling in the right place. If you have any bleeding then do also see your GP.
    Best wishes, Tommy's midwives.

  • By Jae (not verified) on 10 Mar 2018 - 20:17

    Hi. I’m 5 weeks pregnant and today when I cook, I feel stomach pain on the right side. I go to sleep and the pain is still there. It’s not severe like period pain and not continuous. But it only happen on the same side. Sometimes I’m feeling better after peeing. Should I call the GP or wait? Thank you.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Mar 2018 - 11:40

    Are you in the UK? If so, many hospitals have an early pregnancy clinic. Pain on one side at 5 weeks could be associated with ectopic pregnancy so it would be sensible to rule this out. Give them a ring today to ask advice.
    Best wishes

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Mar 2018 - 13:00

    Hi. I'm 24 wks and yesterday around 5pm I felt some pain around my stomach.. weird tightening pain tht never stopped.. but later that night I went to the store and soon as i went in and started walkn, the pain became intense on the left side of my belly.. now it is 8am and I'm still feeling a slight pain in the same area and I did all thru the night.. what should I do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Mar 2018 - 11:33

    Hi. I hope you are feeling better today, At Tommy's we are here to answer your non-urgent queries Monday to Friday 9-5pm
    Any abdominal pain at 24 weeks should be assessed by a midwife or doctor to rule out anything serious. Please don't hesitate to ask to be seen.
    Best wishes

  • By Bella (not verified) on 2 Mar 2018 - 10:25

    Am one month pregnant but today I started seeing my menstruation.what should I do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Mar 2018 - 12:59

    Hi Bella,
    If you are experiencing bleeding and have had a positive pregnancy test then I would suggest that you contact your GP for review.
    Best wishes, Tommy's midwives

  • By Mmesoma (not verified) on 1 Mar 2018 - 20:01

    Please I didn't see my period last month and I went ND checked it in the hospital and they said that am pregnant but today my period came out.am confused

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Mar 2018 - 12:12

    Hi,
    It is difficult to know what is happening for you at the moment, if you have had a positive pregnancy test and now bleeding I would advise for you to call your GP to be reviewed.
    Best wishes, Tommy's midwives

  • By San3983 (not verified) on 1 Mar 2018 - 13:18

    Hi I m 13 weeks 3 days pregnant with my first ivf attempt I had twins seen healthy heartbeats week 6.5 than again 7.6 and than 8.2 week 10 scan showed one twin stopped growing at week 9 it was missed miscarriage as I didn't have any sign or bleeding atall
    I have had another scan when I was 13 week and it showed surviving twin healthy and growing as normal
    I m experiencing really bad stomach pains near my belly button on and off specially on the right and left sides of my waist and also a constant backache which worries me as if something is wrong I wud like to mention that I m at high risk pregnancy and currenlty under consultant care due to 3 fibroids largest one measuring at 4.4cm also I have 2 cysts
    Everyone keeps saying that pains and aches are normal at this stage due to round ligemtent and skin stretching but due to loosing one twin and also conceiving through ivf after 14 years of trying to conceive I get worried about every little pain and ache
    Any response wud b great thank u x

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Mar 2018 - 11:58

    Hi,
    It is completely understandable that you are feeling anxious in this pregnancy. Some aching can be normal in pregnancy, particularly if each side of your uterus, this is often due to ligaments stretching as you have been told. You do not state that you have had any bleeding which is reassuring. If the pains increase or continue then do contact your midwife for advice. Best wishes, Tommy's midwives x

  • By Leigh (not verified) on 22 Feb 2018 - 01:12

    Hi,
    My last period was on the 28th December 2017 (ended around the 1st of Jan) and I havent had a period since, I have had tender boobs now and again, feeling very nauseous for the past week, however i keep getting a sharp shooting pain in the right side of my stomach, is it too soon to take a pregnancy test or should i wait until February is up to go and check?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Feb 2018 - 15:23

    Hi Thankyou for your comment.

    If you have being missing your periods and you are showing signs of pregnancy then we would advice that you take a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant. If this pain continues or gets worse then you need to seek medical advice . Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Kat (not verified) on 20 Feb 2018 - 03:19

    my last proper period was on the 20/1/2018 for 4 days but then i had little blood on the 14th feb for 1 day then again on the 16th for 1 day I’ve took a pregnancy test and it was negative

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Feb 2018 - 09:32

    Hi Kat
    Using your last menstrual period date of 20/1/18- the most pregnant you could possibly be, is between 4-5 weeks. But it is possible that you are less than that if you are actively trying to conceive. Using a good quality pregnancy test, and perhaps waiting another week for HCG to build up in your system a little more, and doing the test with the first urine of the day will give you the best chance of detecting a pregnancy.
    All the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Ellie (not verified) on 17 Feb 2018 - 10:14

    Hi im 9+ 4 wks pregnant and i have been cramping for a wk now. I have had sever cramping all last night to which it kept me awake. I have No bleeding any advice would be appreciated. I lost 2 babies last yr
    1st as missed miscarriage 8 +3 scan size d&c then 2nd delivery of retained products 2wks later.
    2nd miscarriage at 4-5wks all done and dusted didn't go to hospital.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Feb 2018 - 14:30

    Hi I would suggest that if your cramping is still there today, you see your GP who can examine you. Cramping isn't always due to threatened miscarriage, there can be several different reasons for the pain. Hope you feel better soon.

  • By Amy (not verified) on 13 Feb 2018 - 23:58

    I am pregnant with my 2nd baby I had placenta abruption with my first baby. I have had pain across my stomach that is constant all day. I went into the maternity unit today to get checked. Baby seemed fine when doctors checked him. But I still have pain and paracetamol isn't helping is there anything I can do? Btw I am 25 weeks pregnant and my first baby is ok and 20 months old.
    Thank you

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Feb 2018 - 09:56

    Hi Amy
    If you have already been checked over and everything is ok, then it is likely to be related to your ligaments stretching as the baby grows and the uterus stretches. If the pain continues for another 24 hours, or you feel that the pain is actually getting worse, then please don't hesitate to go back into hospital urgently to be reviewed again. Also, please keep an eye on baby's movements, if movements seem less or different to normal, then please so go in for review. The team would rather see you more than once,than to have you at home alone worrying.
    Please take care of yourself
    Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Patty (not verified) on 10 Feb 2018 - 23:54

    Hi. Im 12 weeks pregnant and I keep having belly pain it is not extremely painful but it's uncomfortable. Should I be worried

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Feb 2018 - 09:36

    Hi Patty.
    Any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy, should be reviewed ASAP by a midwife/obstetric doctor. To put your mind at ease, i would suggest that you to your hospital maternity unit to be seen today with your pregnancy notes. Take care of yourself
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Holly (not verified) on 6 Feb 2018 - 09:31

    Hi

    Last night when I turned over in bed, I had a really strange cramping shooting pain in the top middle part of my stomach (right under my boobs but going down to my belly button) it still feels sore to touch this morning.

    Should I be worried?

    thanks
    x

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