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 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

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Feb 2018 - 11:51

    Hi Holly, you do not mention how many weeks pregnant you are. However, abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy, needs to be reviewed ideally. If you have not already done so, please visit your triage, labour ward or day assessment unit today if you are over 16 weeks pregnant. If you are below this, then you will need to go to your GP for referral to an early pregnancy assessment unit during office hours, or minors walk in if out of hours. Please take good care of yourself
    Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By calro (not verified) on 20 Mar 2018 - 16:12

    I dont knw what happen to me , last month I did my period on 17 February. was expecting to do my period again this March on 17 again, I wonder until now I didn't do my period
    Is that pregnant? And last week I just feel pain like am going to labour pls help me

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Mar 2018 - 12:08

    Hi Calro,
    If you are late on your period and you are usually quite regular then I would suggest that you do a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant. f your pain continues then do see your GP for a review.
    Best wishes, Tommy's midwife.

  • By Shanta (not verified) on 4 Feb 2018 - 19:16

    I get up out the bed and I'm 7 month pregnant with so much pain my pelvis be hurting and the bottom of my belly be in pain in it be heard to walk and some time I got to get up because it hurt if I set down to long who can help me with it

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Feb 2018 - 14:37

    Hi, Sorry to hear that you are in so much pain. If you are in the UK I would suggest a referral to physiotherapy as you may have a problem called SPD. This link helps explain it. https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy/complications/symphysis-pubis-dysfunction-spd

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 4 Feb 2018 - 13:15

    am just one month pregnant and my left side abdomen is paining me

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Feb 2018 - 14:45

    Hi, I hope you are feeling better today. We are only here during office hours Monday to Friday so please excuse the delay in replying. If you still have this pain or it is getting worse, please see your GP as soon as possible or go to A/E to rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy.

  • By crystal (not verified) on 31 Jan 2018 - 21:09

    I had my period on 14 Jan. 2018, after my period, I ve been having sex with my husband, i was expecting my ovulation on 23 Jan. but it did not come, now am having stomach ache especially on my nerval, like period cramp, what could this mean?
    Thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Feb 2018 - 11:29

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    It is difficult to say what this discomfort it, it could be ovulation pain or you body getting ready for a period. Keep an eye on the pain if it worsens then we would recommend that you seek medical advice. It is very difficult to know if you are pregnant at such an early stage, so wait and see if you miss a period and then you can do a pregnancy test. You can always contact your GP if you have any further concerns. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Steph (not verified) on 28 Jan 2018 - 22:34

    Hi, I’m 31 weeks pregnant and today I started getting tightening sensations across the front middle of my bump it almost feels like stitch. It’s happened about 4 times in the space of 13 hours and it eases when I move position. I read online that Braxton Hicks shouldn’t be painful so what could this be? Thanks! X

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Jan 2018 - 09:27

    Hi Steph
    Braxton Hicks at 31 weeks gestation are normal, however, the fact that you feel that they are painful, suggests to me that it would be a good idea to get reviewed by your local maternity hospital triage/day assessment unit/labour ward asap today. Abdominal pain, at any gestation, needs to be investigated. It is likely to be nothing to worry about, it could be stretching ligament pain as the bump grows in the 3rd trimester. But it is always worthwhile being reviewed.
    Please get yourself seen if you have not already done so.

    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Joy (not verified) on 24 Jan 2018 - 11:47

    Am.having tommy pain in the 3-4 the week of pregnancy is it normal

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Jan 2018 - 15:02

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.
    It can be common to have mild cramping discomfort in the early stages of pregnancy as all the ligaments start to stretch as the pregnancy grows. If this pain is getting worse or you have any bleeding thne we advice that you seek medical advice as soon as you can, either at the GP or in A and E if it is an emergency. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By peace (not verified) on 21 Jan 2018 - 17:39

    mom pls i need an advice l saw my menses on the 30 of DEC l meet my husband on 11of jan and since then all my body are paining me and my period have not reach pls her me

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jan 2018 - 12:39

    Hi, If you are feeling unwell please see your doctor for advice. It may be too soon to do a pregnancy test and the level of your discomfort suggests that you may be unwell. Hope you feel better soon and if not try taking a pregnancy test after 26th January.

  • By Ashley y (not verified) on 21 Jan 2018 - 15:56

    I had finished my period on the 6th and my period is irregular and i had sex on the 12 and 13 of this month 5 days after i started getting stamach pain and 2 days after stomach pain i started waking up nauseas and when i push in my stomach it hurts just s little bit but im supposed to get my period on the 29 or 30 still so idk if im pregnant or not and ive been so tired even if i sleep allot

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jan 2018 - 12:32

    We measure a pregnancy from the first day of your last period so it would still be too early to do a test. There is another week until your period is due so your symptoms may have a different cause. If you continue to have abdominal pain and nausea see your GP for advice.

  • By Rollypolly (not verified) on 20 Jan 2018 - 05:26

    So my husband and I are TTC since the end of October. I was on birth control for about 7 months before that. I've been on birth control before and none of what I'm about to tell you had happened before. It's a long story, but husband and I were in a long distance relationship before we got married at the end of October.

    TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION: Yes long distance relationships work if you both put in a lot of work and effort. (:

    We started off using condoms as contraceptives, but weren't enjoying the feeling and texture of the condoms, so we switched to control. I stopped my birth control after we got married because we decided to TTC. I had my period coming off the pill. It's now January and I haven't had a period since my last one ended on November 4th. I saw my doctor because we thought there could be a possibility that I was positive (I had a lot of symptoms all of which were explained as the flu and a few other things later) and she said I wasn't pregnant, but to keep trying and gave me prenatal vitamins and folic acid. I know folic acid has in some cases caused sore nipples and boobs, but I've been on folic acid before and it's never happened to me. Anyways, I've been taking my pills every day now since she prescribed them and she told me not to worry about missing my periods since I was irregular before I was on birth control. Today, it's been 6 days that my nipples have been hurting really bad. I've never had this happen before. The last time my nipples hurt that bad, I was going through puberty and I shot from an A cup to a C cup within 2 weeks. I have also been dizzy (5 days) a lot (loss if balance) and have had headaches (5 days) and I've been nauseous. Last time I checked (because my periods are random, I do HPT every month just to make sure I'm not pregnant.) I did a HPT on January 4th and it was negative. Not sure how soon to check again. Any advice on when I should check again? I was going to wait until Monday to see if my nipples still hurt to test then. Is it possible I'm pregnant?

    Again, I've never had sore nipples like this before since puberty hit me and I'm not having a reaction to folic acid because I've been on it before and the sore nipples thing never happened. Also, I'm sorry if this comment is TMI...

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jan 2018 - 12:26

    It is difficult to assess when periods are irregular and the only sure way to confirm or deny a pregnancy is to take a test. You could do this every few days if you think there is a possibility that you are pregnant. Folic acid dosage is 400mcg daily pre pregnancy and during the first trimester. Sore nipples is not a common side effect so it may be that there is a different cause. If you haven't done a pregnancy test since the 5th Jan you could do another one to check. Best wishes

  • By Gemma (not verified) on 19 Jan 2018 - 12:01

    hi im currently 8 weeks, i have been getting period pain like pains in my stomach my first midwife app is on wednesday. im nervous as i had my dog jump on my stomach (luckly he is small and the pain was there before. ) im finding it very uncomfortable when i lay certain ways and feel like im alot bigger than what i should be.

    im worried something isnt right ..

    please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Jan 2018 - 13:50

    Hi Gemma,
    Some period type pains are very common in pregnancy, as long as they are not on one side and you have not had any bleeding, if so then do ring your GP for review. Try not to worry about your dog jumping on your stomach, your baby is very well protected down in your pelvis at the moment so not exposed to any trauma. Also try not to worry about the size of your abdomen, every women shows differently and your first scan will give you an accurate due date and how many weeks you are and check the size of the baby. It is great you have your midwife appointment next week, do be open as much as possible about any concerns you have and how you are feeling. If you would like to talk further then please do email us [email protected] x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 17 Jan 2018 - 10:34

    Hi I'm 5 months pregnant my stomach pains every 5_10 min. My backpain is always sore. I keep on having headache now and then. I'm confused

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Jan 2018 - 13:11

    Hi, it sounds like you need to be seen by a midwife and obstetric doctor. Abdo pain at any gestation needs to be reviewed and your headaches, if they are not eased by paracetamol, will also need to be reviewed. They should test your urine and take bloods from you to check for pre-eclampsia.
    Please take good care of yourself and be seen asap please!
    Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 16 Jan 2018 - 14:55

    Hello, I am 10+6 weeks pregnant and every so often have twinges and pains in my stomach, it's almost like a stitch. Sometimes my stomach also feels tender and sore just beneath my belly button. Is this normal? I wasn't sure if it was too early for stretching pains. Thank you

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Jan 2018 - 13:09

    Hi
    yes it is a little too early for stretching pain. To be on the safe side, it might be worth asking to be reviewed by your local early pregnancy assessment unit - your GP is likely to need to refer you here though.
    Any abdominal pain should ideally be reviewed,at any gestation of pregnancy. Take care
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Emma (not verified) on 15 Jan 2018 - 17:52

    Hi, I’ve just turned 25 weeks and suddenly today my stomach feels bigger and tighter and heavier, it’s obviously been increasing in size and weight as the weeks have gone by but it suddenly seems much more extreme in the last 12 hours. Is this normal? Thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Jan 2018 - 13:06

    Hi Emma
    Growth spurts around this time are very normal. If you have any pain though, it is important that you go into your maternity unit labour ward/triage to be reviewed urgently by a midwife/doctor there. Don't forget to always take your notes with you too!
    Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By samreen (not verified) on 15 Jan 2018 - 17:41

    hi i am 16 weeks pregnant. i woke up this morning and i have upper abdominal pain as the day pass the pain is getting worse i do not know what to do. is this normal ? what should i do? please help me. my midwife is not available at this time.
    thank yiu

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Jan 2018 - 13:04

    Hi Samreen
    Please go to your minors A&E/pregnancy triage in your maternity unit today asap for review. Any pain in the stomach during pregnancy needs to be reviewed. Don't forget your pregnancy notes!
    Please take care Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Rita (not verified) on 15 Jan 2018 - 17:29

    Good evening,please I have been since my conception but lately am having pains by the left hand side of my tummy plus feel the urge to go to toilet and just uncomfortable,i am scared because I have gone through a miscarriage before and it affecting me psychologically, if I experience any form of pain

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Jan 2018 - 13:02

    Hi Rita
    any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be urgently reviewed by medical team - GP/A&E Minors as soon as possible. It is possible that you have a urine infection- as these can cause such symptoms but you will need antibiotic treatment urgently for this also. Please take good care of yourself
    Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

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