Stomach pain or cramps in pregnancy

Some stomach pain and very light cramps in the abdomen/stomach area in early pregnancy is not unusual.

Are cramps in pregnancy normal?

Light stomach pain at the start of pregnancy is usually caused by your expanding womb and hormones. It can sometimes feel like a ‘stitch’. You may also feel light period-like discomfort or cramps at the beginning and end of pregnancy. These are nothing to worry about.

When should I report stomach pain in pregnancy?

If you are having persistent abdominal/stomach pain or cramping, it should be checked by a doctor or midwife immediately.

What causes stomach pain and cramps in pregnancy?

As we have already explained most stomach pain and cramps in pregnancy are nothing to worry about, but there are some signs and symptoms that you should look out for as they could be a sign that the pain is a sign of something is more serious.

  • severe lower one-sided abdominal pain in early pregnancy (between week 5 and 10) with bleeding or a brown discharge could be the sign of an ectopic pregnancy. The pain is sometimes felt in the shoulder. Contact your midwife, doctor or hospital A&E immediately.
  • severe cramps in your lower stomach/abdomen with bleeding that lasts for several hours could be a sign of a miscarriage. Contact your midwife, doctor or hospital.
  • regular painful contractions/cramps before 37 weeks could be a sign of premature labour, particularly if accompanied by backache, pelvic pressure and vaginal discharge. Contact your midwife, doctor or hospital.
  • severe constant pain in your lower abdomen/stomach, tenderness when you press your stomach and back pain with or without bleeding could be a sign of placental abruption. Contact your midwife, doctor or hospital immediately.
  • from 20 weeks, pain in the upper abdomen/stomach with other symptoms such as a very bad headache, nausea, vomiting, flashing lights or seeing spots in front of your eyes could be signs of pre-eclampsia. Contact your midwife, doctor or hospital.

If you have lower abdominal pain or dull back pain that comes with one or more of the following, contact your doctor or midwife as soon as possible:

    • pain or discomfort when urinating
    • pelvic discomfort
    • need to urinate frequently (although this on its own is common in a normal pregnancy)
    • a raised temperature
    • cloudy, foul-smelling or bloody urine
    • nausea and vomiting

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

What other kind of stomach pain should I expect?

Towards the end of pregnancy, the following are common:

  • ‘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. They are infrequent (more than 10 minutes apart) and short-lasting, and uncomfortable more than painful. You do not need to contact your maternity unit or midwife unless contractions become painful and regular (less than 10 minutes apart).
  • Contractions/cramps after 37-40 weeks could be the 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

  1. Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J, Mayes midwifery, thirteenth edition, Edinburgh Balliere Tindall, 2012

  2. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Ectopic pregnancy – information for you, London RCOG, 2010

  3. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, clinical guideline 154, London NICE, 2012

  4. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Hypertension in pregnancy, clinical guideline 107, London NICE, 2011

     

Hide details

Last reviewed on April 1st, 2014. Next review date April 1st, 2017.

Was this information useful?

Yes No

Comments

  • By Mel (not verified) on 16 Aug 2018 - 20:50

    I’m 12 weeks pregnant and had a scan yesterday and everything was okay. This evening after dinner I decided to go for a walk and after a few minutes I had pin in my upper abdomen which then went to cramping pain in my lower abdomen. I sat down for ten minutes and walked back. Pain seems to have eased but I’m a little concerned. I thought it may be gas but I don’t feel I need to pass gas?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Aug 2018 - 10:57

    It is great to hear that you have had your scan and everything was ok. Some dull and mild aches in pregnancy can be very normal, and could be start of having some ligament pain which is most common in the second trimester as your baby is growing. Sometimes it can also be a symptom of a urine infection so if it is ongoing then it maybe worth just have a urine sample checked to rule this out. If it is a little uncomfortable then just monitor, if it increases and becomes painful or you have any loss then do see your GP straight away.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Flo (not verified) on 14 Aug 2018 - 18:35

    Hi,
    I am 12+1 and had my dating scan today, which showed all was okay and no problems at the moment. However, for the last 2/3 days I have had a dull ache low down in my pelvic area. It is mostly not painful, just uncomfortable but I do have the odd pain/twinge. In all the excitement of seeing our baby (previous mc's and mmc) I forgot to mention it. Should I phone my midwife or Dr, or could it just be round ligament pain? I don't want to be a worry wart, but it's the fact it's been pretty much constant for the last few days. Many Thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Aug 2018 - 09:58

    Hi Flo,
    It is great to hear that you have had your scan and everything was ok. Some dull and mild aches in pregnancy can be very normal, and could be start of having some ligament pain which is most common in the second trimester as your baby is growing. Sometimes it can also be a symptom of a urine infection so if it is ongoing then it maybe worth just have a urine sample checked to rule this out. If it is a little uncomfortable then just monitor, if it increases and becomes painful or you have any loss then do see your GP straight away.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Shalini (not verified) on 9 Aug 2018 - 07:57

    Hi m 19 weeks pregnant and m getting severe pain in my lower left side can’t even walk properly from last 4 days

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Aug 2018 - 16:05

    Hi Shalini, Without examining you I can't really advise. If you are concerned please see your midwife or GP. The pain may be linked to muscular skeletal, gastric or pregnancy. Any pain should be investigated so please don't be worried to ask. Take care

  • By Lizzy (not verified) on 7 Aug 2018 - 08:06

    Hi I’m 11.5 weeks pregnant and have lower pelvic/ uterus pain followed by brown discharge. I have had an ultra sound and there is a heart beat. Everything looks okay in all my tests but my ongoing pain and discharge is of concern. Please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Aug 2018 - 15:42

    Hi Lizzy, Thank you for your comment.
    Sometimes women can experience unexplained cramping and spotting and then it settles down. It is reassuring that all the tests and scans have come back normal so there is nothing to suggest that there is a problem at this time. Keep an eye on things, if this pain and spotting continues and you are worried then please contact your early pregnancy unit so that they can check you over again and give you reassurance. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Curious (not verified) on 29 Jul 2018 - 07:38

    Hi, i am guessing i am 5 weeks pregnant, i took a pregnancy test because i expected my period 5 days ago. This will be my second pregnancy but cannot remember what symptoms i felt in my first. I am feeling abit of pressure in my pelvic area for the past 3 days on and off. Nothing too serious or nothing too painful. Is this normal?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Jul 2018 - 15:48

    Hi Curious
    It would be a good idea to see your GP to inform them you are pregnant and to get your urine checked. Feeling pressure can be a sign of a Urinary Tract Infection which may need antibiotics.
    Please take care
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Emma (not verified) on 23 Jul 2018 - 21:36

    Hi am now 24 weeks and for few weeks i have not been able to control worrying about something happening which would cause me to lose my baby like her heart stops its making me feel depressed family try and reassure me but nothing is working just looking for some advice

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Jul 2018 - 12:01

    Hi Emma
    Have you spoken to your midwife about your anxiety? It sounds like you need some more support via more antenatal appointments- your midwife can help arrange this for you. You might also benefit from some talking therapies to help process your thoughts which your GP can arrange for you. Being anxious is a normal part of pregnancy, but when it is taking away your enjoyment of the pregnancy and you are unable to relax away and stop thinking about it, then you need to ask for help. So well done for reaching out!
    I hope that your partner and family are being very supportive of you at this time also. I hope that one of them will attend the GP/Midwife with you for moral support.
    Feel free to call us on the helpline if you need a friendly chat Mon to Fri 9 am to 5pm
    Take care of yourself
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Happiness (not verified) on 20 Jul 2018 - 12:01

    hi, please I need your assistance. I am 10 weeks pregnant and have been having this severe very sharp pain in my tummy and I feel cold everyday uptil now, it's getting me worried. have not start anti natal due to some things. please help me what can I do.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Jul 2018 - 13:13

    Hi Happiness,
    If you are having severe sharp pains then I would advise for you to see your doctor for a review. Some cramps and aching is normal in pregnancy, but you describe the pain as sharp and severe therefore this needs to be reviewed. We would advise for you to book for your antenatal care as soon as possible also.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Felicia (not verified) on 20 Jul 2018 - 06:10

    Hi I've been having the stomach pain during the night and I'm 9 months pregnant what must I do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Jul 2018 - 12:59

    Dear Felicia,
    If you have been having pain then it is important to ring your maternity unit for advice. It is really important to be monitoring your baby's movements also, if they have reduced at all then you must go straight in to be check out.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Nicolette (not verified) on 5 Aug 2018 - 23:29

    Hello,I'm also 9 months pregnant( about 39 weeks) and I started having stomach pains quite recently.The baby's movements have increased a lot.And I've had below my abdomen ( in the pelvis I think) since end of second trimester.When I first did my scan I was 9 weeks and EDD was 4th of August ,Today it's the 6th .My EDD based of last day of menstruation is 16th of August and my scan during 20 weeks showed EDD as 19th of August.So I'm not sure if the pains are a sign of early labour or what it is because the EDD's are quite confusing for me. it's my first pregnancy by the way.Your advice in this regard would be appreciated

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Aug 2018 - 10:25

    Hello Nicolette, We usually advise that the most accurate due date is the one done earliest which would be 4th August. However, there is no reason to be alarmed as only about 6% of babies are born on their due date. We expect most babies to be born between 37 and 42 weeks.

  • By Nicolette (not verified) on 12 Aug 2018 - 16:46

    Sorry to bother you again,but I've been having a pain on my lower back more on my left.The pain is so bad that walking becomes a quite difficult.I've been having this for the past 3 to 4 days.I'm currently 39 Weeks and 6 days.Please Help!!!

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Aug 2018 - 10:01

    Hi Nicolette,
    Sorry for the delay as we are non urgent service, I do hope that you have been in contact with your maternity unit for a review if are experiencing on going pain. Do monitor your baby's movements closely also, any chances then contact your maternity unit straight away.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Laura (not verified) on 19 Jul 2018 - 20:51

    Hi,i was wondering if you could give me some advice about having an abortion as I think I might be pregnant I gave my boyfriend a blowjob three weeks ago and accidentally swallowed his sperm and now I have missed my period and I'm panicking that I'm pregnant he also told me he has strong swimmers? What do I do next?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Jul 2018 - 12:55

    Hi Laura,
    It is not possible to become pregnant by swallowing sperm so please do not worry. If you are very stressed and anxious this can also delay a period. If you have missed a period I would suggest that you do a pregnancy test if you have been having intercourse with your boyfriend to rule out pregnancy. I hope this has reassured you, please do be in touch if we can support you.
    Best wishes, Tommy's midwife

  • By norah (not verified) on 13 Jul 2018 - 14:50

    I am 5 months pregnant but I have been having a stomach pain and a back pain.. the thing is that am worried cause the pain is not stopping.. is this normal

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Jul 2018 - 15:10

    No it is not normal to have pain in pregnancy. Please call your maternity unit and arrange to be seen as soon as possible.

  • By Jay (not verified) on 12 Jul 2018 - 20:56

    I haven't been pregnant before. However,I am a little confused. I have been having some abdominal pains for the past few weeks, sometimes I can't sleep. Had unprotected sex with my husband 3 months ago. I have been going on my period.. However,my tummy looks big. I went to the docs and he said I was bloated but I really doubt it. Now I have been feeling back pain ,been feeling tired, nauseous though I am not vomiting. I need your help please. Could I be pregnant? I have done a home testing using sugar and urine but the results are negative. I am not sure how accurate that is.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Jul 2018 - 13:47

    Hi Jay,
    A home test of sugar and urine will not give you an accurate pregnancy result, I would advise for you to use a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant. If your symptoms continue then do go back to the doctor.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Jay (not verified) on 16 Jul 2018 - 19:36

    I have been to the doctor's and they did some blood tests but they came back negative. However, I am still experiencing the abdominal pain. The docs are not sure what's causing these cramps,they have requested for a scan to see if they can get some answers.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Jul 2018 - 12:21

    Hi Jay
    Blood tests are very accurate, so if it was negative, then this will be the true result. It sounds like they will send you to a gynecology clinic to see if they can find what is causing your abdominal pain.
    Please take good care of yourself. All the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Becca (not verified) on 12 Jul 2018 - 14:24

    Hi. I’ve just found out i’m Pregnant. My doctor thinks I’m 4-5 weeks. I’ve been getting cramps which feel a little bit like period pains? Is this normal or should I ring my doctor? The cramping started as soon as I found out a few days ago, so I’m also thinking it could just be anxiety? Thanks in advance. Becca x

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Jul 2018 - 13:34

    Dear Becca,
    Some mild period type cramps can be normal at this stage and can often coincide roughly when your next period would have been due. If they are painful or you are having any spotting then do contact your doctor to be reviewed.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Sri (not verified) on 11 Jul 2018 - 23:42

    Hii...i am suffering with back pain...stomach pain and adnormal pain...i am feeling suddenly sickness....nd vomiting sensation....did i am pregnant

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jul 2018 - 14:14

    Hi Sri,
    I am a little unclear from your message as to whether you are pregnant or unsure if you are pregnant? If you are pregnant and getting these pains and feeling unwell then I would advise for you to ring your maternity unit to be reviewed straight away. If you are unsure whether you are pregnant, if you have missed a period then do take a pregnancy test to confirm whether you are pregnant or not. If you have not missed a period then I would advise for you to wait to see if it comes or not or else you may get a false negative test result.
    I hope this helps
    Best wishes,
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Charlotte (not verified) on 11 Jul 2018 - 08:27

    Hi I’m 13wks 4dys and have woke with cramp like pains that are persistent in bottom right and middle of my abdomen and my back this is Also my 3rd is this normal ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jul 2018 - 15:37

    Hi Charlotte,
    It is possible that it is normal as some cramps and aches are in pregnancy, however if you are having persistent pains then I would advice for you to contact your GP or early pregnancy unit for a review just to make sure everything is ok.
    Best wishes
    Tomm's midwives

  • By tracey (not verified) on 8 Jul 2018 - 13:51

    Hi I am 11 weeks today I am suffering with mild belly ache and a back ache that goes with it is this normal or do I need to get in touch with my midwife I have my first scan coming up in over a week I also suffer with mild sciatica in my back as well

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Jul 2018 - 16:31

    Hi Tracey,
    These mild pains are usually nothing to worry about at this stage of pregnancy, but if you have any bleeding you should contact your doctor or early pregnancy unit for advice. If all is well at your scan next week the pain may be associated with your sciatica. An osteopath or physiotherapist may be able to help and suggest some exercises to help you.

  • By kuldeep (not verified) on 5 Jul 2018 - 13:45

    hi.. I am 1 Month pregnant. i am having upper abdominal pain from last 3 days continuously. sometimes it get severe....am i safe from gall stone...what are its symptomps...if gall stone pain remains continuously after every 10 min.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jul 2018 - 15:51

    Hi Kuldeep, Thank you for your comment.
    As you are only 4 weeks pregnant, the pain that you are experiencing may not to pregnancy related. It is difficult to say what is causing the pain so it is advisable that you call your GP to be assessed. If you feel that this pain is severe then please go to A and E as they will be able to see you quickly and get you comfortable. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Lowri (not verified) on 2 Jul 2018 - 14:46

    Hi ,

    I am 22 weeks pregnant and have a dull ache below belly button which doesn’t last longer than 15 minutes. It almost feels similar to period pain/ache. I have not had any unusual discharge/ bleeding and have felt baby moving.

    What could be causing the discomfort?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Jul 2018 - 16:13

    Hi Lowri
    Abdominal pain at 22 weeks should always be investigated. Please call your maternity unit and arrange to be seen today. Reassuring that baby is moving well but best to get checked out. Take care x

  • By Rhoda (not verified) on 27 Jun 2018 - 13:03

    I last saw my menses on 13/5/18 had sex on 20/5/18 and took my IUD off on 22/5/18 and haven't seen my period again. I haven't tested for pregnancy with a teste kit twice but it's negative.iam having a little cramps , urinates frequently.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Jun 2018 - 12:09

    You could be in the early stages of pregnancy- your hormone levels may not yet be high enough to be detected by the test kits; However these are very sensitive and can detect pregnancy from as early as 8 days after conception.
    If your period still doesn't come and the tests are negative again I would advise that you discuss this with your GP.

    I have added some links with more information for you
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/planning-pregnancy/taking-pregnancy-test
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-test/

  • By Portia (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 23:27

    Pls I'm 25 weeks feeling pain in my right side of my stomach n light abdominal pain is on n off is it normal

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:26

    Hi Portia,
    If you are having on going pain then it is important that you contact your maternity unit to be reviewed to make sure everything is ok.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Blanche (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 23:25

    I wanted an abortion an I inserted 2 tablets of misoprostol into my anus and drank 2. Is this the proper way of doing it? I'm 60 days pregnant.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:11

    Hi Blanche,
    If you are wanting an abortion it is very important that you seek medical support and do this through a clinic who can prescribe the appropriate medication and give you support when you are going through the abortion. I am unsure the dose of the tablets that you are prescribing however misoprostol would not be given into your anus. Please do get help as you may have taken too much medication.
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Nashy (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 23:22

    Hello. I feel so uncomfortable at times and it pisses me off. What can be the issue with me? I'm 54 days pregnant.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:06

    Hi Nashy,
    In what way are you uncomfortable? Are you in pain? We would need a little bit more information to help you. Feel free to email us [email protected] so we can discuss this with you further.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Rubi (not verified) on 21 Jun 2018 - 15:12

    i have pain in lower side long time daily.
    Plz help what i do ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2018 - 15:04

    Hi Rubi,
    You do not say how many weeks pregnant you are but if you are having on going pain then we would always advise for you to see your midwife or GP for a review.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • Pages

Add new comment