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 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.

  • 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

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