Stomach pain 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 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

     

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

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Comments

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 21 Sep 2017 - 14:13

    Hi im 20 weeks pregnant and a first time mom. I feel a tingling motion in my upper abdomen especially after eating. It's like there is slight movement but i know that its not my baby because my baby is still in the center of my abdomen. I would like to know if this is something to be concern. It's not really painful. Hope to hear any advice from you. Thank you.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Sep 2017 - 15:53

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    As the uterus gets bigger as the pregnancy progresses, organs will starts to move to accommodate the uterus in the abdomen. This may be a cause for the tingling feeling you are experiencing after eating as all the digestive organs will be slightly displaced. Eating little and often may help digestion.

    However, it is difficult to say what this is without a full examination so if you are concerned then it is advisable to seek medical advice from your GP or Midwife. Hope this helps
    Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 12 Sep 2017 - 21:42

    Am 9wks pregnant and having intermittent stomach pains. is this normal?

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

    Hi there,
    abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy is most certainly worth investigating. It would be best for you to make an urgent GP appointment, where you will be referred to an early pregnancy assessment unit for review. If the pain becomes severe however, then please take yourself to A&E minors for an urgent review- especially if the pain is more focused on one side than the other as we worry about ectopic pregnancy, which can be very dangerous to the pregnant woman.
    Please do take care of yourself and feel free to call us if you need further advice!

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Sep 2017 - 08:16

    hiii im 4week and 4days pregnant i consulted doc she said that im not able to find embryo or any suff like that please help y this happened

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Sep 2017 - 11:00

    Hi - I'm sorry you have been given worrying news. It's hard to advise with so few details on what your doctor has told you. If you could email us on [email protected] with some further details we maybe able to advise on your pregnancy.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Sep 2017 - 11:40

    Hi,this is my first 2wiks notis, i hav stomak troubl all thru an it maks mi unkomfortabl an rstls. Any solution?thanks.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Sep 2017 - 10:57

    Hi - if you are experiencing stomach or abdominal pain it is important that you are reviewed urgently. Please call your local early pregnancy assessment unit or day assessment unit in your nearest maternity unit.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 9 Sep 2017 - 14:39

    Hi,

    I'm 6 weeks pregnant with baby number 1 and in the process of changing doctors so can't book an appointment for at lease another week. The last couple of days I've had light pain on my lower left abdomen. It feels like a pulled muscle / stitch feeling. Would you advise going to a&her or to wait for my midwife appointment in 2 weeks? No other symptoms apart from tender breasts.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Sep 2017 - 10:55

    Pain at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be reviewed urgently. Please contact your GP or local A&E if the pain is severe or worsening.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Aug 2017 - 19:19

    I'm 16 weeks pregnant and have dull ache on my left side comes and goes lasting around 30mins each time I've had no bleeding

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 30 Aug 2017 - 11:21

    Hi Amy
    Pain at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be reviewed urgently. Please call your local early pregnancy assessment unit or day assessment unit in your nearest maternity unit. At 16 weeks, some maternity units will be able to see you(some only see women over 18 weeks - it depends on the trust itself) , but otherwise you will need to be seen in an early pregnancy unit. Please do seek physical assessment if you have not already done so! Please take good care of yourself!

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Aug 2017 - 11:58

    I have one tube and is expecting my first child. had a few miscarriages when I reach six weeks but now I'm four months and happy. but these cramps and pains making me worried. any advise pls. thank u

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 30 Aug 2017 - 11:25

    Hi Lesa.
    Abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy, needs to be investigated urgently! Please call your local maternity unit to see if they take pregnant women at 16 weeks onward, otherwise you will be able to be seen in your local early pregnancy assessment unit, who usually see women up to 18 weeks gestation.
    Please take good care of yourself and get a medical assessment asap if you have not already done so.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 20 Aug 2017 - 19:36

    Hi. Last night I woke up with stomach pains across my whole stomach and a feeling of nausea. My stomach has felt very tender all day. Should I be worried? I have an anterior placenta so was feeling very light flutters before and think I still have them. I'm just over 20 weeks. My 20 week scan was 2 days ago and seemed fine.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Aug 2017 - 13:45

    Hi Thank you for your comment, apologies for the delay in our reply. We hope that you are feeling a bit better since you commented. Have you been feeling unwell with nausea and vomiting? The stomach ache and nausea could be a stomach bug but with any abdominal pain or bleeding it is advised that you are seen and assessed by a midwife or doctor. If you are still experiencing abdominal pain then please contact your local antenatal day unit so that they can see you and give you reassurance and treatment if needed. Take Care Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 16 Aug 2017 - 01:40

    I'm 28 weeks, having sharp steady pain on my left side right below my ribs radiating to the left side of my belly. Should I go to the dr?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Aug 2017 - 09:35

    Hi Tori, abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy needs to be reviewed urgently. Yes please, you need to go to your local hospital labour ward/triage/day assessment unit to be reviewed asap. It might not be a cause for concern, for example, it could be ligament stretching, but it is far better to get this checked out, than to leave it.
    Please take good care of yourself.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 16 Aug 2017 - 01:34

    I am 8weeks plus gone, and I feel pain anytime I press my right side abdomen.. Other than that I only feel it when I get up from bed or is rushing to do something, D sharp pain brings me to a halt. Is it normal to feel pain. When I just press my abdomen a little?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Aug 2017 - 09:13

    Hi Maryann. Feeling abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy, needs to be investigated. Especially in early pregnancy when the pain is on one particular side as we worry about Ectopic pregnancies which can be dangerous. It would be sensible, to get an urgent GP appointment today, to be referred to your local Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit for scan and review. Ifthe pain is very severe, then skip waiting for the GP and please take yourself into A&E minors to be reviewed as an emergency. Please take good care of yourself

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 15 Aug 2017 - 10:32

    Hi, im concerned about the fact that I've been having bouts of diarrhoea for the past 4days and along with that some quite painful stomach cramps that seem to come in waves weather or not I need to go to the toilet. Its worrying because sometimes the pain only goes away once ive used the toilet and comes in waves one after the other. My unborn baby is still kicking around and has actually been more active. I have no temperature along with the diarrhoea just cramps which really really hurt. Please help.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Aug 2017 - 11:50

    Hi - Congratulations on your pregnancy!
    I'm sorry to hear you've been feeling unwell. In order to advise I'd need a little bit more information. Please either email us at [email protected] or call our pregnancy information line on 08000147800

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 9 Aug 2017 - 20:15

    Hi I am 6weeksand 3 day's work pregnant and I've got a stitch pain that is starting to go down to the front of my thigh. It's also worse in the evening and night. I feel great I have a slight change in discharge which I think is normal in early pregnancy so I'm not too concerned I just need reassurance. Thank you.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Aug 2017 - 10:42

    Hi Thank you for your comment.
    Slight cramping can be normal in early pregnancy as all the ligaments are stretching and the pregnancy grows. If you think that this is getting worse then it may be advisable to be seen by a doctor. As it is worse in the evening and at night it could be muscular if you have been working all day.
    But with any pain in early pregnancy this should be checked out. It is reassuring that you have feeling well and it can be normal to have an increase in discharge in pregnancy but if this starts to smell, change colour of becomes itchy then again you need to seek advice from your GP. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 30 Jul 2017 - 23:26

    I usually have irregular periods.My last period was June 11th and today is July30th. Before, my period came 40 days late.. However ive been having all day long cramps in my lower abdomen, a lot of back and shoulder pain and sometimes a little nausea. Could i be pregnant? I've had sex a few times in the last month but I am not sure when I ovulated since i have irregular periods.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Jul 2017 - 11:43

    Hello, I would advise that you do a pregnancy test. If it is positive I would suggest that you see your GP to discuss your symptoms as cramps all day long with nausea and shoulder pain should be investigated as soon as possible. If the pregnancy test is positive and you are not able to see your GP, most hospitals have an early pregnancy unit who will see you. Hope this helps . Best wishes

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 30 Jul 2017 - 17:18

    hi im currently 14 weeks pregnant this is my first pregnacy im always having a slight but pressure in my pelvic area is this normal i got antibiotics for a uti on friday just worried thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Jul 2017 - 11:32

    This may be linked to the UTI but may also be that you need to work on your pelvic floor muscles. When you are pregnant, the hormones produced soften the ligaments and put pressure on your pelvic muscles. We have a link which describes how to do the exercises but remember that it takes time to feel the benefits. https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/exercise-pregnancy/pelvic-floor-exercises

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 29 Jul 2017 - 15:53

    Hi,
    I'm 6 weeks pregnant with my first child. I had mild period pains when I first found out and have very tender breasta which I understand is normal, but yesterday I returned to the gym (doctor said it was fine), I didn't push myself and do anything like what I would normally do and felt fine whilst I was there but in the night I woke up with bad tummy ache (wouldn't say cramping), after rubbing my tummy for a little while it went away but I was sweating loads and I'm wondering if this is something to worry about it a sign something bad has happened?
    My friend had a still born last year followed by a miscarriage at 7weeks as her baby hadn't grown since 4 weeks and I constantly have this in the back of my head and it makes me worry

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Jul 2017 - 11:23

    Hi, I hope you are feeling better this morning. There may be several reasons for the sore tummy in the night but it is reassuring that the pain resolved fairly quickly. Have you had any bleeding? If not then I would suggest that you take it easy for a few weeks and see your GP if you have further episodes of pain and sweating. Look after yourself and best wishes x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Jul 2017 - 09:11

    Im 4weeks pregnant n i hv sum stomach crams n i feel sum pains when im urinating n also urine sum bloody urine n also feel nausea n vomiting so what does it mean?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Jul 2017 - 13:15

    Hello, thank you for your comment. Mild cramping can be normal in early pregnancy as all the ligaments are stretching, however, as you are having pain when urinating and you have blood in your urine then this could be signs of a urine infection. It is advisable that you see your GP who can test your urine and prescribe you antibiotics if this is needed. It is important that you drink plenty of water, this can help with the pain when you pass urine but please contact you GP as soon as you can. If these pains increase or you have any vaginal bleeding then you need to seek urgent medical advice. Hope this helps, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 26 Jul 2017 - 02:14

    My daughter is 11weeks pregnant just woke with diahrroa feeling faint and very hot and feeling sick is this a bug ?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Jul 2017 - 09:06

    Hi Mrs Noble. It doesn't sound like anything to worry about - yes it probably is a bug. Make sure that for the next 48 hours, she drinks plenty of water, eats when she feels able to and monitors her temperature. If it goes above 37.4, she can have x2 tablets, or 1g of paracetamol orally to reduce her temperature. A cool shower or cool flannel will also help to cool her down. It is likely that the bug will flush out of her system in 1-3 days.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 14 Jul 2017 - 06:12

    I m six weeks pregnant n i have a stomach pain and vomiting plz tell me wht ti do...

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Jul 2017 - 14:05

    Hi, Please, if your stomach cramps are severe, seek medical advice from your GP or from the early pregnancy unit at your local hospital. Mild pains at 6 weeks are quite common and usually settle down but if it is severe you should be checked out. Best wishes

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 24 Jun 2017 - 11:15

    Hi, I just recently took a test and got a very faint positive result. I've been booked in to see my midwife 6th July. The question I have is if it's normal to still feel like my period is going to come? The cramps I'm having aren't all that painful or anything, I just keep thinking my period is coming even though it's five days late with a positive test, however faint. It sounds ridiculous but I keep thinking it's a false positive and I've just tricked my body into a very late period.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 28 Jun 2017 - 14:39

    Hi, I also felt the cramps and gas that i usually feel when am about to have my period, but it never came. I took the test the day i was supposed to have my period and i got a positive. For almost the whole of 1st month of my pregnancy i had the same feeling but now its completely normal. I actually asked my sister then and she told me its normal, so i guess there is nothing to worry about

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Jun 2017 - 14:37

    Hi, experiencing cramping in early pregnancy can be very normal as all the ligaments are stretching and the uterus is growing. It is reassuring that this has settled down and that you have no pain at all. If you have any more abdominal pain or bleeding then we would advice that you seek medical advice. We wish you the very best in your pregnancy. Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 22 Jun 2017 - 04:33

    i miss my period 1 week, but i hv sharp stomach pain tis one week..i not sure im pregnant or not.. i never have like tis pain b4

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Jun 2017 - 11:32

    Hi, if you have missed your period then you should do a pregnancy test to see if you are actually pregnant. If you are pregnant then it is advisable that you see a doctor as any severe abdominal pain in pregnancy needs to be assessed. If you aren't pregnant, then again if this pain is severe then you need to be seen by a doctor. Stomach pains can be caused by a number of things like constipation, trapped wind or a stomach bug that can cause loose stools and/or vomiting. If you are unsure of what to do and you are still in pain then please go and see your GP as they will be able to treat you if needed. Take Care Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 4 Jul 2017 - 14:58

    stomach pain is too high each and every night

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jul 2017 - 11:43

    Thank you for your comment
    If you are having regular or severe stomach pains, it is important to contact your maternity unit for urgent advice-they make ask you to come to the unit for assessment and tests to find out the cause of the pain and give treatment. I have attached a link with more information about stomach pain in pregnancy-
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/symptom-checker/i-have-pain-my-stomach-area
    Please contact us again for more advice or call our PregnancyLine on 0800 0147 800 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
    I hope this helps
    Take care
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Jun 2017 - 08:17

    Um 5weeks pregnant nd I can't sleep feeling pains in my stomach nd when I go to bathroom I c some spotting of blood nd 2moro I have an appointment with my doctor so um so stressed as last yr I had miscarriage so I can't really loose dis one 2, I really need dis baby plz help wat should I do to stop bleeding nd dis cramps.... #Cindy

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jun 2017 - 09:57

    Hi Cindy
    At 5 weeks pregnant there can be many reasons for spotting/bleeding. Many women who do have bleeding at this stage go on to have normal pregnancies and a healthy outcome and the spotting is linked to implantation. However, I would suggest that you arrange to see your GP or midwife who may refer you to an Early pregnancy unit (EPU) for assessment and blood tests. You can read about the many reasons for bleeding before 12 weeks on this link https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/symptom-checker/i-am-bleeding-pregnancy . I hope this helps and good luck x

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 17 Jun 2017 - 00:58

    I understand your worry. Try your best to stay relaxed for you and your baby. Every pregnancy is different and some bleeding is common. With any symptom you're curious about, stay in contact with your OB. Keep moving forward with your best prenatal care and take it easy on your body as it may be a little sensitive considering your history. Hopefully your job isn't taking a large toll on you, but nonetheless always remember that your body is designed to keep the baby healthy even when you don't feel like you are. Stay strong and positive. I hope your appointment went well.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 May 2017 - 23:19

    Hi, I'm 13 weeks with #3 and I've been having pain in my lower rib cage and down to my abdomen. My GP checked everything as I was in pretty intense pain and baby is healthy and active and cervix length is great so no signs of preterm labor that would be the cause of my pain. I thought it might be indigestion but the pain isn't in my chest/throats like the symptoms are supposed to be. Also, my back muscles keep getting tighter and tighter. Any suggestions? The pain has been intense enough to keep me from sleeping and I'd really like it to stop. Thank you!

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 May 2017 - 09:25

    Hi Lindsay.
    I am really sorry to hear that you have been suffering with this pain. Any abdominal pain, at any gestation of pregnancy should be urgently reviewed. It would be a good idea if you have not already done so, to be seen in your local early pregnancy assessment unit- your GP can refer you or you can call them to find out if you can self refer too.
    If the pain is very severe,then i would urge you to go to a&e as a matter of urgency. please take good care of yourself.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 16 May 2017 - 18:15

    Hi.. I am 5 weeks and 6 days. And experiencing upper abdominal pain. It's not constant and feels like a bad period pain.
    I had a miscarriage a year ago and am a little concerned. Gp says it's normal pain. The pain is right in the middle of my rib cage if that makes sense.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 May 2017 - 09:12

    Hi Renee.
    Any abdominal pain should be investigated during pregnancy, although upper abdominal pain with a 5+6 week pregnancy doesn't sound pregnancy related. If the pain continues and you cannot get another GP appointment, then you could go to your a&e minors walk in centre to be checked over there. I wonder if you are experiencing early reflux or a gastrointestinal problem being that the pain is around your rib cage.
    Please take good care of yourself

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