Pregnancy is a joyous occasion for all women, but it does have its own ups and downs. Women tend to suffer from all kinds of aches and pain during pregnancy, including pain or discomfort in the abdomen. While having some abdominal discomfort in pregnancy is quite normal, but if the pain persists or increases, then it is an indication of something serious and should not be ignored.
We have covered some common causes of abdominal pain/ discomfort experienced during pregnancy. However, please bear this in mind that this is for information purpose only. Immediate medical attention is warranted if are having severe abdominal cramping/pain/discomfort accompanied spotting/ bleeding, fever, chills, faintness, vaginal discharge, pain with urination.
6 Causes of Abdominal Pain or Stomach Ache During Pregnancy Are
- Ectopic Pregnancy: This occurs when a fertilized egg, instead of getting implanted in the uterus, gets implanted outside it. Ectopic pregnancy commonly occurs in either of the fallopian tubes. Surgery is often required for ectopic pregnancy.
Symptoms comprise of abdominal cramping, vaginal bleeding may be present along with other pregnancy symptoms. Serious symptoms which should not be ignored are:
- Abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain/ tenderness
- Vaginal Spotting/ Bleeding
- Worsening pain during any physical activity
- Worsening pain when having a bowel movement or when coughing.
- Pain in the shoulder.
- Symptoms of shock include: Dizziness, racing pulse, fainting or pallor with clammy skin.
- Miscarriage: When a woman loses her pregnancy spontaneously in the initial 20 weeks, it is termed as miscarriage. The first indication of this is vaginal spotting/ bleeding, followed by pain in the abdomen; which can be mild or acute or crampy in nature. Patient may also feel pelvic pressure or pain in the lower back. If you are experiencing severe pain with heavy bleeding, then please visit your doctor immediately. Medications are given to expel the tissue and placenta; otherwise surgical procedures such as D and C (suction dilation and curettage) are done.
- Preterm/ Premature Labor: Having contractions with effacement or dilatation of cervix before completing 37 weeks of pregnancy is known as preterm labor. Serious symptoms include: Heavy vaginal discharge, bloody vaginal discharge, vaginal spotting/ bleeding, pain or cramping in the abdomen, having greater than 3 to 4 contractions every hour, pressure sensation which keeps on increasing in the pelvic region with severe low back pain. If you are experiencing the abovementioned symptoms, then don't hesitate to visit your doctor immediately. Surgical procedures, such as cervical cerclage help in prolonging the pregnancy. Corticosteroids are also given so that the baby's lungs are mature if it is born prematurely.
- Placental Abruption: This is a condition where the placenta gets partially or completely separated from the uterus before the birth of the baby. Placental abruption is a serious and life threatening condition. It causes various symptoms and some may experience sudden onset of bleeding, whereas others may only have light or no bleeding. Uterine tenderness may be present; pain in the back, recurrent contractions can be felt. Sometimes uterus contracts and stays that way and does not relax. There also might be decrease in the fetal movements. Prompt medical attention is warranted if you experience any of the above symptoms.
- Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is a condition where the mother suffers from high blood pressure or hypertension and has protein in her urine after crossing 20 weeks of pregnancy. This is a complicated condition and affects various organs such as brain, liver, kidneys and the placenta. Blood vessel changes are also seen. Symptoms comprise of swelling of the face/ eye puffiness, obvious swelling of the hands, and sudden or extreme swelling in the feet/ ankles. This is due to water retention and results in fast weight gain. Severe preeclampsia is accompanied by acute upper abdominal pain or tenderness, intense headache, vision disturbances, nausea and vomiting. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, then please visit your obstetrician or doctor immediately. Bed rest is advised and medications to control the blood pressure are given.
- Urinary Tract Infections: Pregnant women are very susceptible to UTIs. If you are suffering from a bladder infection, then you may have:
- Discomfort/ pain/ burning when voiding
- Pelvic discomfort
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Uncontrollable need to urinate
- Foul-smelling, cloudy or bloody urine.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, then please visit your doctor immediately. If the bladder infection is ignored, then it can lead to kidney infection and preterm labor.
Serious symptoms indicating kidney infection are:
- High grade fever with chills or sweating.
- Low back pain.
- Pain on the sides.
- Nausea/ vomiting.
- Presence of pus /blood in the urine.
Other Causes For Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy Include
- Stomach flu
- Food poisoning
- Kidney stones
- Bowel obstruction
All the above conditions can occur with or without pregnancy and can be a cause for abdominal pain. Treatment for abdominal pain during pregnancy depends on the cause of the pain.