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.
A slight increase in discharge during pregnancy is normal, especially when the weather is hot. You may find that it is a mild-smelling, milky fluid, which is fine.
Swelling or puffiness of your hands and feet is common in late pregnancy.
Some itching around the stomach is normal as your skin is stretching around your growing baby.
A growing bump is the sign of a growing baby. Your midwife should start measuring your baby from 24 weeks to make sure they are growing at the right rate.
If you feel that your midwife is not listening to you, you can ask to see another member of the team.
If you feel that something is wrong, or if you are worried about the baby, call your midwife or doctor to talk about it.
Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J, Mayes midwifery, thirteenth edition, Edinburgh Balliere Tindall, 2012
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Ectopic pregnancy – information for you, London RCOG, 2010
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, clinical guideline 154, London NICE, 2012
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Hypertension in pregnancy, clinical guideline 107, London NICE, 2011
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2014. Next review date April 1st, 2017.
By Carol (not verified) on 19 Mar 2018 - 13:11
It's early days. I had sex days before my period. Eventually got my period which goes on for 5 days not 7 no more. 4weeks into this possibility of being pregnant and I've experienced most symptoms. Going into 5weeks and during my sleep I've just had these mild but continuous stomache aches. I can't sleep cause it occurs every couply minutes so I'm sitting up rocking my body to avoid feeling it agn. I need answers pls
By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Mar 2018 - 15:42
I am wondering if you have had a positive pregnancy test or had confirmation of a pregnancy by a doctor? It may be sensible to see a doctor for reassurance. Best wishes
By Betty (not verified) on 17 Mar 2018 - 19:23
Took a pregnancy test on 10th March around a week after what I assumed was my period. It came out as positive. Since 15th I've been having spotting and cramping. Took another test this morning (cb digital) but it says not pregnant. I'm confused now. Do I trust the negative or not?
By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Mar 2018 - 15:37
Hi Betty, Most likely scenario is that your body started a pregnancy which didn't continue. This is very common. The statistics show that 1:6 known pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Try not to worry. There is a good chance that future pregnancies will be successful. Take another test in a week to confirm and see your GP if you are still concerned.
By Emma (not verified) on 17 Mar 2018 - 12:22
My last period was 26/1, did 3 pregnancy tests and all were positive. Due to a previous miscarriage we paid for for an early pregnancy 6wk scan. A tiny sac was seen in my uterus but also a large dark area next to my ovary. I was rushed to hospital with a suspected ectopic. 7hrs later after scans, tests etc it was confirmed to be a cyst. I had hormone bloods taken that day which was 943 and then repeated 48hrs later. It had risen to 1400 but not doubled as it should. Repeated again 48hrs later and had only increased by 400 to 1800. I was told to go home and rest and have a scan in 2 weeks to see if the sac has grown and a heart beat is present. It has been the most awful week so far every day is dragging. I am trying very hard to stay positive and calm but its mental torture. I am not in any pain at all apart from a slight cramping feeling and a mild stitch. I have not bled and i still feel pregnant i.e. sore boobs, shattered, feeling sick and moody! Im so worried about every little twitch i have and it concerns me that my bloods hadn t risen as they should have. Is this normal or should i prepare for the worst? :-(
By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Mar 2018 - 15:27
I am so sorry that I can't give you any further information. You are correct that your hCG levels have not doubled as expected but they have still increased. Unfortunately there is nothing that you can do to change the situation. I regularly speak to women who had a 'reassurance scan' only to be left with more questions than answers. 7 weeks is the earliest that a fetal heart beat would be seen on scan. I hope that all will be well for you in the next few weeks. Best wishes
By Rupanshi (not verified) on 17 Mar 2018 - 09:44
M 2 weeks pregnant.. I had my checkup n it was all normal.. I always have stomach pain when i eat anything.. .but as it is said it is important to eat more in pregnancy but always feel pain... Is it normal or is dere ny problem
By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Mar 2018 - 15:14
Hi Rupanshi. We don't recommend that pregnant women eat more than normal. Only in the last trimester when an extra 200 calories is needed. It is not normal to have pain when eating and I would suggest that you ask your doctor for advice regarding this. You may need to alter your diet but I would be reluctant to advise without knowing more about your circumstances. Best wishes
By Aneish (not verified) on 16 Mar 2018 - 02:24
Hi my last month period was on Feb 2 2018 and am having serious back and belly pain mostly on the left side am concern because this is my first pregnancy please help
By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Mar 2018 - 11:44
Thank you for your comment.
If you are having severe pain in your belly and side then you should see your GP or go to A+E for further tests to find out the cause of this pain. It is common to get pains like this in pregnancy but it's not normal if it is severe or not going away so should always be checked.
Please do not hesitate to contact us again or call Tommy's PregnancyLine 0800 0147 800 for more advice
By Pretty (not verified) on 15 Mar 2018 - 16:56
Why is it always so common to feel some stomach pains at my early weeks of pregnancy. Just about 5weeks old. And I fat always
By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Mar 2018 - 11:59
Stomach pains are very common in early pregnancy-its often due to your hormones and your womb starting to grow as the baby develops
It may feel like a 'stitch' or mild period pain, but is usually nothing to worry about if it is only occasionally happening
However if the pain is very severe, not going away or if you experience any bleeding then you should contact your doctor or hospital for further assessment. I have attached a link with more information-
Hope this helps.
By chichi (not verified) on 13 Mar 2018 - 18:53
I saw my period on 22 February i had sex with my husband on 1st march and i also had sex with him others days and my stomach is paining me i dnt know if i m preginant i m weak and having headache plzz help me especially on the left side of my stomach
By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Mar 2018 - 15:45
Hi, it is difficult to know what is happening for you. If you were to do a pregnancy test it maybe a little early for a true result. If you are feeling so unwell and having left sided pain then I would advise for you to be reviewed by the GP, they can do a blood test, which is more sensitive, to see if you are pregnant and review how you are feeling. Take care, Tommy's midwives.
By Nayyar (not verified) on 13 Mar 2018 - 07:38
My last period is on 30 Jan 2018 and it's finished on 6feb 2018 after that I missed my periods then I did the pregnancy test on 11 march 2018 it came positive. Before doing test I have got pain in my stomach and back I thought I I'll start the periods since 1 1/2 weeks I have got pain in stomach and abdomen I fell like nousea even I can't sleep on right hand side or left hand side i feel pain in stomach and abdomen this morning I started pain in stomach and back in left hand side.
I ring the gp for the appointment they said on 27 march I have got the appointment of midwife
Please tell me is it anything to worry about or not
By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Mar 2018 - 12:16
Hi, Thank you for your comment.
Mild crampy discomfort can be normal in early pregnancy as all the muscles and ligaments are stretching as the pregnancy grows. If your abdominal pain is becoming increased and is getting worse then we would recommend that you call your GP or early pregnancy unit to be assessed. Everyone experiences pain differently but with any abdominal pain or bleeding in pregnancy we would encourage women to be seen. Hope this helps, best wishes, Tommy's Midwives x
By Adenike (not verified) on 13 Mar 2018 - 07:06
I woke up in the middle of the night and I feel pain all in my Tommy but after a few ho
urs I was so relieved. Any cause for Alarm?
By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Mar 2018 - 12:39
I need a bit more information to be able to answer your question. How many weeks pregnant are you? Was the pain to do with your pregnancy or your digestion?
Have you had any other symptoms that are worrying you like back ache, pain when passing urine, fever or bleeding?
Hope you can get back in contact soon
Anna- Tommy's Midwife
By Ellen (not verified) on 12 Mar 2018 - 20:46
The last time I bled was Jan 6th but the month before I had a bleed beginning of Dec for a week came off for a week then bled for another week my bleed in Jan was only three days. I have my booking appointment on the 19 this of this month but I'm confused how far I am and why the funky extra bleed the month before my last bleed. My boobs are so much bigger and hurt all the time my clothes are getting tight any advice? This is pregnancy no 6 and I'm 37 years old
By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Mar 2018 - 11:19
Hi, Thank you for your comment.
Sometimes women can have some spotting or a lighter bleed and they may think this is a period but it could be implantation bleeding. Every pregnancy is different but if you are unsure of your dates, then just let the midwife know at your booking appointment and then she will be able to refer you for an early dating scan and then you will be sure of your dates. Hope this helps, Take care, Tommy's Midwives x
By Jae (not verified) on 10 Mar 2018 - 20:17
Hi. I’m 5 weeks pregnant and today when I cook, I feel stomach pain on the right side. I go to sleep and the pain is still there. It’s not severe like period pain and not continuous. But it only happen on the same side. Sometimes I’m feeling better after peeing. Should I call the GP or wait? Thank you.
By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Mar 2018 - 11:40
Are you in the UK? If so, many hospitals have an early pregnancy clinic. Pain on one side at 5 weeks could be associated with ectopic pregnancy so it would be sensible to rule this out. Give them a ring today to ask advice.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Feb 2018 - 09:56
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
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
By Holly (not verified) on 6 Feb 2018 - 09:31
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?
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 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?
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
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.