New moms to be may feel a jolt of fear when they experience cramps during pregnancy. You might have it in your head that you’re in the middle of a miscarriage. In reality, most cramping during pregnancy is actually normal and is something that occurs during all three trimesters. It’s important to know why they happen.
Normal Cramps in Early Pregnancy
During your first trimester, you experience cramps as your body prepares for the pregnancy. You may initially experience cramping in your lower abdomen or lower back even before you know you’re pregnant. This is due to implantation, which is the process of the fertilized egg implanting in the uterus. You may feel a small twinge or sharper cramps that may double you over at times. After you know you’re pregnant, cramping is due to your uterus growing and expanding to accommodate your growing baby. It’s perfectly normal and happens to all women. Cramps often feel similar to your normal menstrual cramps. Once you pass your first trimester, you might experience occasional cramping. It’s important to remember that the uterus is a muscle, which means it can contract and cause pain or discomfort. The same can happen when you have gas, constipation, bloating, or even a full bladder.
Normal Cramps in Later Pregnancy
You may experience less cramping in your second trimester compared with your first and third trimesters. Generally, moms who are pregnant with multiple children experience more cramping during the second trimester compared to those who are having a single baby. This typically occurs as the body is making more room to accommodate the babies. In women carrying single babies, this occurs in the third trimester.
Abnormal Cramps During Pregnancy
Any cramping that seems out of the ordinary, such as cramps that feel severe and that don’t go away, should be reported to your doctor. It’s possible that you’re perfectly fine, but it’s important to be absolutely sure just to be safe. Sometimes, severe cramping can signify an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilized egg implants in one of the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. Ectopic pregnancy is a very serious, dangerous condition that requires immediate surgery as the pregnancy cannot be sustained. It can also threaten the mom’s health if the fallopian tube ruptures. Cramping on one side should also be reported to your doctor as it might mean an ectopic pregnancy. Cramping accompanied by vaginal bleeding should also be immediately reported to the doctor. It might mean you’re experiencing a miscarriage. The doctor can diagnose it or rule it out by ordering an ultrasound or hCG blood test. If you’re concerned about cramps during pregnancy, contact WFMC Health to schedule an in-office or telehealth appointment.