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 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.

    • By nofisat (not verified) on 10 Apr 2018 - 13:37

      i am 38 weeks and am having a stomach pain sometime it lead to deficate while some will go and my baby movement isnow clear that i used to notice every minute and alittle backpain

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Apr 2018 - 15:08

      Hi Nofisat
      I think it would be sensible for you to go into your maternity unit for a review. You are now term, and are having abdominal pains and going to the toilet frequently. These can be signs of early labour. Also, you mention baby's movements but it is unclear if you are worried about these or not. If you are concerned that the movements are less or have changed, then it is really important that you go into be reviewed by a midwife and doctor at the hospital asap today with your pregnancy notes.
      If you wish to call and talk any of this through, please do call us on 0800 0147800
      All the best
      Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

    • By Kabelo (not verified) on 8 Apr 2018 - 22:30

      Halo im experiencing lower abdominal pains for the last 5 hour and thy come and go but not for long thy last for 30 seconds

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Apr 2018 - 15:39

      Hi Kabelo, I need to know a little more about your situation to advise you. How many weeks pregnant are you? Have you had any bleeding or vaginal loss? Is this your first pregnancy? Hope to hear from you soon. Take care

    • By alexis (not verified) on 8 Apr 2018 - 02:00

      i’m 29 weeks and the past few days i’ve had stomach pain. (not cramping) my doctor said that it could be gas. but my stomach is hurting daily

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Apr 2018 - 15:35

      Hi Alexis, Sorry to hear that you are not feeling well. If your doctor believes that this is related to gas there are a few things you can do to improve things. Firstly, try eating smaller meals, Instead of 3 meals a day try 4 or 5 smaller meals. Also cut out caffeine, fatty foods, spicy foods or what we call rich foods. Drink plenty of water and try to get some exercise. These changes may improve your symptoms. If not please see your doctor again. Best wishes

    • By Aiza (not verified) on 8 Apr 2018 - 00:40

      Hi,
      I am going through my early pregnancy probanly it is 8 or 9 week.. but i am having stocmach pain on and off. If I stand too much. And I do not have any minor bleeding or spotting when embryo get attached to placenta as you said above. So not have bleeding is it normal? Nd stomach pain in between the diaphragm.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Apr 2018 - 15:30

      Hi Aiza, It is reassuring that you have not had any bleeding. The symptoms you describe may be symptoms of indigestion or heartburn which is quite common in pregnancy. Advice is to eat smaller meals more often and cut down rich, spicy or fatty foods. Also to avoid food for 3 hours before you go to bed. Hope this helps and if not please see your doctor for advice. Take care

    • By mirikin (not verified) on 6 Apr 2018 - 19:13

      hi is it normal when you pregnant for 12 weeks and you always get a stomuch pain and a light period

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Apr 2018 - 15:04

      Hi Mirikin, No this is not normal, Any bleeding at 12 weeks should be investigated. Sometimes this happens and the pregnancy progresses without any problems but I would advise that you see your midwife or doctor for advice.

    • By S Clark (not verified) on 6 Apr 2018 - 04:02

      My due date is the 25/04/18 I'm getting stomach cramps and back ache really bad and I'm also constantly being sick should I be worried at all

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Apr 2018 - 13:07

      Hi,
      I am sorry to hear that you are in pain and being constantly sick. Stomach cramps and back ache maybe an indication of your body getting ready for labour, sometimes a warm or keep mobile and walking can help. Again, vomiting can sometimes be a sign of early labour, however if you are unable to keep down any fluids then do ring your labour ward for advice. If the pain is constant, you have any bleeding or concerns about baby's movements then again ring the labour ward for a review.
      Best wishes, Tommy's midwives

    • By precious.m (not verified) on 5 Apr 2018 - 16:21

      Hi
      I am 27 weeks pregnant and this I my first baby I'm very confused as I don't understand what is happening half the time. Lately I have been experiencing back pains,pains on the left side of my stomach and at times around my belly button and my lower abdomen. Please help is the something wrong with me or my baby?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Apr 2018 - 11:45

      Hi Precious,
      I am sorry to hear that you are feeling so confused at the moment and experiencing these pains. We would always advise that any on going pain in pregnancy needs to be reviewed so I would suggest to contact your midwife today for an appointment.
      Best wishes, Tommy's midwives

    • By Notho (not verified) on 3 Apr 2018 - 18:08

      Hi my name is notho I'm 13 weeks pregnant my stomach is pain sometimes it's difficult to walk properly it's on the left side and headache this is normal to a pregnant woman.pls help

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Apr 2018 - 11:36

      Hi Notho,
      If you are having on going pain and headache then it would be important to speak with your midwife for a review. Some discomfort can be due to something simple such as trapped wind or constipation if on the left hand side, or some more general ligament pain however all pain should be reviewed, especially if you have had any bleeding also. With a persistent headache, this could be dehydration so making sure that you are drinking enough water each day and eating regularly, healthy balanced meals and snacks. However it can be due to high blood pressure so this needs to be reviewed if on going.
      Best wishes. Tommy's midwives

    • By Maria (not verified) on 2 Apr 2018 - 07:08

      I feel pregnant but its too early for a pregnancy test going on my second week my stomache has been hurting for a week now,the only way it calms is when im in bed rest and im very moody, im thinking its my period but i only have spotting like pinkish color, But i had that only twice.im confussed

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

      Hi Maria-thank you for your comment. It's unusual to have tummy pain that lasts for a week so there may be other causes even though you feel pregnant. I would advise that you see your GP to find out why you have this pain. Light spotting is also common in early pregnancy-it can happen when the embryo implants in the womb.
      If the pain gets more severe, you have very heavy bleeding or you have other symptoms that are worrying you, then you may need to go to A&E or Urgent Care if you need immediate advice or treatment.

      Take care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Shubh (not verified) on 29 Mar 2018 - 06:46

      Hi. I am 9 week's pregnant. I have been adviced pelvic rest because of hoematama. Can I use Indian toilet ?
      Please help. I don't have Western toilet at home.

    • 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.

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