Stomach (abdominal) pain or cramps in pregnancy

Some pain and very light cramps in the stomach (abdominal) area in early pregnancy is not unusual.

Are cramps in pregnancy normal?

It’s completely understandable to worry about stomach pain in pregnancy and be anxious about this being a sign of miscarriage. But stomach pains or cramps are common in pregnancy and usually nothing to worry about.

Mild stomach pain in early pregnancy (during the first 12 weeks) is usually caused by your womb expanding, the ligaments stretching as your bump grows, hormones constipation or trapped wind. It may sometimes feel like a ‘stitch’ or mild period pain. It’s is probably nothing to worry about if the pain is mild and goes away when you change position, have a rest, do a poo or pass wind.

You may also feel light period-like discomfort or cramps at the end of your pregnancy. This is nothing to worry about, but call your midwife if you have any concerns.

When should I report stomach pain in pregnancy?

Stomach pain can be very worrying for pregnant women. Pain can make you fear the worst, such as a miscarriage. It’s important to listen to your own instincts. If you are worried about any pains you’re having, or you just feel like something is wrong, contact your midwife. Don’t be concerned about wasting anyone’s time. It’s always best to get things checked out.

If you are having persistent stomach pain (pain that won’t go away) or cramping, or if the pain comes on suddenly it should be checked by a doctor or midwife immediately.

What stomach pain and cramps should I look out for in pregnancy?

Most stomach pain and cramps in pregnancy are nothing to worry about. But there are some symptoms you should know about as they could be a sign of something more serious.

If you feel any of the following pains, even if you're not experiencing any of the other symptoms listed, call your midwife, doctor or hospital immediately.

Severe pain on one side of the lower stomach in early pregnancy
This pain could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. Other symptoms may include:

Severe cramps in your stomach with or without bleeding that lasts for several hours 
This could be a sign of a miscarriage or placental abruption.

Regular painful contractions/cramps before 37 weeks
This could be a sign of premature labour, especially if you also have:

  • either a slow trickle or a gush of clear or pinkish fluid from the vagina or any increase in vaginal discharge
  • backache that’s unusual for you
  • cramps like strong period pains
  • a feeling of pressure in the lowest part of your stomach (pelvis).

Severe pain in your stomach that doesn’t go away
This pain could be a sign of placental abruption. Other symptoms may include:

  • tenderness when you press your stomach
  • back pain with or without bleeding.

Pain in the upper stomach 

Pain just under the ribs is common in later pregnancy because your baby is growing and the uterus is pushing up under the ribs. But if this pain is bad or persistent, particularly on the right side, it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Other symptoms may include:

  • a sudden increase in swelling in your face, hands or feet
  • a very bad headache or a dull headache that won’t go away
  • problems with your vision, such as blurring or flashing lights
  • vomiting or just generally feeling unwell.

Pre-eclampsia usually develops in the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks). 

Lower stomach pain or dull back pain 

Call your midwife if you have this pain and one or more of the following:

    • pain or discomfort when weeing
    • a need to wee often (on its own this is common in a normal pregnancy)
    • a raised temperature  (over 37.5°C)
    • wee that smells bad, is cloudy or bloody
    • feeling sick (nausea) and vomiting.

These are symptoms of an urinary tract infection. It's not an emergency but should be treated as soon as possible.

What other kind of stomach pain should I expect?

Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions are a sign that the muscles of your womb are tightening. This can happen from as early as 16 weeks, but are more common in later pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks’ contractions are:

  • irregular (more than 10 minutes apart)
  • short-lasting
  • uncomfortable more than painful.

You do not need to contact your maternity unit or midwife unless your contractions become painful and regular (less than 10 minutes apart).

Contractions/cramps after 37-40 weeks could be a sign of the early stages of labour. This is called latent phase of labour.

Read about our pregnancy insider's experience of aches and pains during pregnancy.

Read more

Sources

NHS Choices. Stomach pain in pregnancy https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/stomach-pain-abdominal-cramp-pregnant/ (Page last reviewed: 01/05/2018. Next review due: 01/05/2021)

NHS Choices. Premature labour and birth https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/premature-early-labour/ (Page last reviewed: 29/11/2017. Next review due: 29/11/2020)

NHS Choices Pre-eclampsia https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pre-eclampsia/ (Page last reviewed: 07/06/2018 Next review due: 07/06/2021)

NHS (2017) Urinary tract infections www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/ (Page last reviewed: 12/12/2017 Next review due:12/12/2020)

NHS (2017) You and your baby at 33-36 weeks pregnant www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-weeks-33-34-35-36/ (Page last reviewed: 17/07/2018 Next review due:17/07/2021)

Hide details

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

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No

    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By 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

    • By Ruth (not verified) on 15 Jan 2018 - 05:57

      Hi there, I am only 4-5 weeks pregnant and I now and again experince a sharp pain on my lower abdominal. It also feels like something is hardening on the same side
      This pain also occures after I have sex with Hubby.

      Kindly advise if this is normal. Thank you...

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jan 2018 - 11:44

      This is a difficult question to answer without more details. Pain at this gestation is not 'normal' but there could be many different causes. If the pain continues or gets worse I would advise to see your doctor. Best wishes

    • By anonymous (not verified) on 14 Jan 2018 - 21:12

      I've been having stomach pain since early this morning when I woke and till this evening the pain is still persistent.pls is it OK.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jan 2018 - 11:39

      Hi, I am not able to answer this question without more details. How many weeks pregnant are you? If you are not able to contact your doctor or midwife, give us a call and we will do our best to advise what to do.

    • By Mimi (not verified) on 14 Jan 2018 - 05:32

      Ten days ago I was given an antibiotic for my infection but it seems not to good cefixime doesn't seem to work for me....am one month pregnant what can i do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jan 2018 - 11:35

      Hi, If you still have symptoms of infection, go back to your GP who may be able to prescribe a different antibiotic. Best wishes

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Jan 2018 - 11:20

      Hi there
      I am almost at the last week of my pregnancy and I have been having severe pains in my abdomen and my thighs ache badly . Also I have pains all over my body . I don't know what to do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Jan 2018 - 11:26

      Hello, it sounds like you could be in early labour. However, Severe abdominal pain is a reason to get yourself into hospital urgently for review though. Contractions should build up intensity slowly, but severe pain is more ominous- so i really want you to take yourself in right now to be reviewed on the labour ward of your local hospital with your pregnancy notes. Don't even call them, just go in. Right now. Please!
      Best wishes
      Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Damilola (not verified) on 3 Jan 2018 - 22:20

      I am pregnant and still breastfeeding , i want to know if it is fine ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2018 - 15:59

      Hi Damilola,
      It is absolutely fine to continue to breastfeed whilst you are pregnant. There will be a time when your milk will change and you may find that your little one weans themselves off but for as long as it works for you as a family you can keep breastfeeding.

    • By Annonomous (not verified) on 3 Jan 2018 - 16:27

      Is it true that if you wear an underwired bra whilst pregnant then this may prevent you from producing milk for breastfeeding? I am 38 weeks but have no signs that my breasts are bigger, no tenderness and no leaking so worried I may not have any milk for breastfeeding

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2018 - 16:02

      Hi,
      Wearing an underwire bra will not stop you from producing milk. For some women they find that their breasts change in pregnancy therefore they become more uncomfortable but it is fine to keep wearing it if it is comfortable and fits well. Pregnancy is different for everyone, it is fine if you have not really noticed any change in your breasts and that you are not leaking, this does not mean that you wont be able to produce milk for breastfeeding.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 3 Jan 2018 - 02:57

      Im 19 weeks pregnant and the past 2 days when ive been going toilet i get cramps when i go toilet but its not every time i go. And i have also had diarrhea and then got constipated and im worried and this is my first baby.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Jan 2018 - 11:11

      Hi there. It sounds as if you may have a bug. Please stay well hydrated for the 24hours. If this persists over that, then i would advise that you visit your maternity unit for a review by a midwife and DR as this will then have been going on for more than 72 hours. Please take good care of yourself but have a low threshold for being seen if this continues for much longer. Please feel free to call us or email us if you need any further help or support.
      Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Dec 2017 - 17:06

      I am missing my menstrual cycle from last two months. About 6 months ago i visited the gynecologist for check up she told me about Hymenectomy. After the visit, menstrual cycle was perfect. I got married at the age of 18. My partner tried to have intercourse and released his sperms at opening area. i have light pain at my left lower abdomen and whole abdomen area is stretched. Is there any chances for getting pregrant?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Jan 2018 - 11:22

      Hi there. It is difficult to say for sure.If you have had unprotected sex and have not had a period for two months, then it might be sensible to do a pregnancy test.
      If this is positive and the abdo pain has continued, then it would be best to get an urgent review by your GP, or at an urgent care centre. Please take good care of yourself.
      Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

    • By Lydiah (not verified) on 26 Dec 2017 - 12:39

      I did my pregnancy test and I found it positive have been having back pain lower abdominal pain and pain in my breast is it normal and have ever visited any doctor

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Jan 2018 - 11:25

      Hi Lydiah
      Back pain and lower abdo pain, both need to be investigated urgently in pregnancy as they can be linked to both miscarriage an/or urinary tract infections which need to be treated urgently with antibiotics if found. So please do seek urgent medical advice and review if you have not already done so.
      Take care
      Sophie-Tommys Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 12 Dec 2017 - 00:11

      Hi, 24 weeks pregnant here.
      This whole Sleep on Side thing has really affected my mental state when sleeping, every time I roll onto my back, I wake up. I now have extremely broken sleep, my legs are aching like mad when I wake up in the morning and Im also having some cramping in the middle of the night, which wakes me up too.
      My partner wants to snuggle up in bed and watch a film and I feel bad as I have to sit upright like I'm on a chair.
      Im so tired, but I guess I might as well get used to that eh? Any ideas on the aching in my legs?
      Thanks x

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Dec 2017 - 16:04

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      It is really reassuring that you are starting to go to sleep on your side as this is what the new findings of the research recommend. Sleeping in pregnancy can be very uncomfortable and it is all about managing this and making it better for you. You can buy pregnancy pillows which allow you to sleep on your side while supporting your bump and in between you legs, this may be something you want to look into. Don't worry if you wake up on your back, just roll onto your side again.

      If your legs are really uncomfortable especially when you turn over, this may be caused by a condition in pregnancy called pelvic girdle pain. This can be cause by the hormones of pregnancy softening the joints of the pelvis as it widens to accommodate baby. This can be very debilitating and some women even end up using crutches. If this sounds familiar, then please contact you midwife or GP, they will be able to refer you to a women's physiotherapist and they will give you ways to try and make life more comfortable for you.

      Leg cramping can occur in pregnancy but as it is happening so much, you may want to go and see you GP so that he can examine you. The risk of DVT does increase during pregnancy so it is better to be seen if these craps are not getting better. Hope that this helps, if you would like to contact the Tommy's Midwives on 0800 0147 800 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm or email [email protected] we would be more then happy to answer any more questions for you. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 9 Dec 2017 - 21:55

      I just found out two days ago that im pregnant but I have really bad pain In lower abdominal n back im not feeling well n this happend last time as well I been keep telling my doctor thy said its normal in pregnancy but it was not normal thn I had miscarriage at three mounth I'm so scared again

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Dec 2017 - 12:58

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      Pregnancy after your have had a miscarriage can be a very anxious time and it is completely understandable that you are feeling this way and want to feel reassured. It has been a few days since you posted your comment so I hope that you are feeling a bit more comfortable. If you are still experiencing abdominal pain or if you have any bleeding, you can always be seen in your local early pregnancy unit, they will be able to assess you and give you any treatment if needed. Hope all is well, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Dec 2017 - 17:36

      I have too much cramp at mi feet n stomach,and too much painfull allover mi body n headache dizzy.I am not bleeding and these month it is mi last month to give birth I am pregnant.having too much pain at mi under stomach n I have diabetes type 1n am pregnant 9month

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Dec 2017 - 11:09

      Thank you for you comment

      If you are the end of your pregnancy and you are experiencing pain in your lower abdomen with headaches and feeling dizzy, it would be advisable that you contact your local Labour ward as soon as you can to be seen. They will also check your blood sugars to see if you have good control of these as well . Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Dec 2017 - 13:44

      Am 38 weeks pregnant and since last night I have been visiting the toilet, please I want to know if it's normal or I should visit the hospital.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Dec 2017 - 14:17

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      You don't say if you have been passing more urine or stools? But as you have been going to the toilet a lot and if this is with any pain then we would recommend that you call your local maternity unit. It could be that you have a tummy bug or a urine infection but you will need to be seen and checked over and if you need any treatment then this can be arranged. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By honey (not verified) on 1 Dec 2017 - 09:51

      I am feeling pain at my boobs...and eye turning, feeling tired, and uncomfortable, headache all the time.....but I have do a blood pregnant test and it is negative..... but I think it is too early to take the test I had a sex on Oct 4 and take the test on Nov 7....but I have never miss my period since then....plz can I be pregnant??
      really need a reply plss

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Dec 2017 - 12:16

      Hi,
      If you had intercourse on the 4th October and had a missed period since then a blood test would show a pregnancy if you had got pregnant. If your period still has not come and you are having these symptoms then do speak with your GP to be reviewed.

    • By Hina (not verified) on 27 Nov 2017 - 23:40

      Hi dear
      I hope u ok. Just saw all the msgs above n reply from u, thats v kind of u replyng evryone solving problems. I m lil upset as my 1st daughter is only 6months n i had really bad stomache nausea all day no energy i thought i cant b pregnent as we use precaution but still i thought i will check wid preg test. I did n it came out positive. I m very anxious that hows it posible, also my baby is too young yet but its been a week now n m having really bad cramps n pain in my tummy sometime unbearable. Any advice why its so? Thanku

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Nov 2017 - 16:00

      Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry to hear that you are feeling upset-however it is possible to get pregnant 6 months after having a baby. You can even become pregnant before your periods start again. No contraception is 100% effective
      I would advise that you speak to your GP about your stomach cramps or go to A+E if they are very severe to find out what could be causing the pain
      The cramps could be due to several reasons so its important to be checked in case there is a serious cause for the pain that may need treatment.
      I have attached some links with further information
      https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/symptom-checker/stomach-pain-pregnancy

      https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/pregnancy-loss/miscarriage-information-and-support

      https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/when-contraception-after-baby.aspx

      Hope this helps
      Take care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • Pages

    Add new comment