Lower Abdominal Pain in Early Pregnancy
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Four Major causes of Abdominal Pain in
- Implantation of the pregnancy
- Round ligament pain
- Ectopic pregnancy
Early abdominal pain is common in the first trimester of pregnancy; you may experience some intermittent discomfort along the lower part of your abdomen, but it should not be persistent or increase in severity.
Implantation pain is characterized by mild cramping and a small amount of spotting or bleeding approximately 10 to 14 days after fertilization (at the time of the missed menstrual period), and is presumed to be related to implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus. The lower abdominal pain associated with implantation is mild cramping similar to the pain associated with your menstrual cramps. It usually is of no consequence to your pregnancy.
Round Ligament Pain
You will experience lower abdominal pain in early pregnancy due to your uterus growing to accommodate your baby. When your uterus enlarges, the round ligaments that support it lengthen and thin out, hitting surrounding nerve fibers in the process. As a result, you may feel mild discomfort in your lower abdomen. This discomfort is called round ligament pain, and it’s a common pregnancy symptom.
The pain is typically on the right side of the abdomen and often occurs upon waking, suddenly rolling over in bed, or other vigorous activity.
A change in position may alleviate the pain, but no treatment is necessary, as the pain is usually mild and self-limited. You can try to prevent round ligament pain by changing positions more gradually. For example, when you’re getting up or getting down, you’ll want to avoid any sudden movements. Take your time, and this may prevent your discomfort.
The most common symptoms of a threatened miscarriage are lower abdominal pain and cramping. Miscarriage pain may or may not be associated with bleeding from the vagina.
Abdominal pain or cramping does not always mean that you are having a miscarriage. Since cramping in pregnancy can be a normal pregnancy symptom to expect. But, it can be a sign that something is wrong, so you should always discuss any abdominal pain in early pregnancy with your doctor.
Your doctor will ask you a few questions, do a pelvic exam and use an ultrasound to look at your uterus and baby. Early in pregnancy you cannot hear the baby’s heartbeat, but the ultrasound examination will be able to see if the baby’s heart is beating. If your baby has a heartbeat, then you have not had a miscarriage. If your doctor is worried that you are threatening to miscarriage he might need a blood test and then a second test a couple of days later to check on your pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that is located in the wrong place, not in the uterus.
Pregnancy begins when your egg joins together with your partner’s sperm. This fertilized egg grows into a bigger group of cells, called an “embryo.” In a normal pregnancy, the embryo attaches to the lining of the uterus and grows into a baby.
In an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo does not attach to the uterine lining. Instead, it attaches to a place outside of the uterus that it should not attach to and starts to grow. Even though the embryo gets bigger, it cannot grow into a baby. As the embryo gets bigger, it can cause lower abdominal pain and lead to other problems. Some of these problems can be life-threatening.
In most ectopic pregnancies, the embryo attaches to one of the fallopian tubes (the tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus). When this happens, doctors also call it a “tubal pregnancy.”
Pregnant women who have an ectopic pregnancy don’t always have symptoms early on. But as the ectopic pregnancy grows you will have symptoms that include:
- Lower abdominal pain
- Bleeding from the vagina (including slight bleeding or brown staining)
Some women don’t have any symptoms until the ectopic pregnancy causes more serious problems. For example, an embryo growing in a fallopian tube can cause the fallopian tube to burst open. When this happens, symptoms can include:
- Severe lower belly pain
- Heavy bleeding from the vagina
- Fainting or passing out, or feeling like you might faint or pass out
If you are pregnant and have these symptoms, go to an emergency room as soon as possible.
Recommended Related Reading
- Abdominal pain in pregnancy that comes on suddenly, persistent, and severe, and associated with other problems such as nausea, vomiting, vaginal bleeding, or cramping suggests the pain is not due to normal pregnancy changes.
- As your belly grows larger in pregnancy, you may experience a sharp, piercing pain in your lower abdomen side. This abdominal discomfort is called round ligament pain.
- You may have a urinary tract infection causing pelvic pressure and pain.
- Typically the symptoms of sciatica in pregnancy include the following, pins and needles in the lower back, shooting pain in the leg, buttock or lower back.
- Some pregnant women find that their hip pain is so uncomfortable that it keeps them awake at night; others have a hard time walking due to their pain.