Just like in pre-menstrual cramps, cramps during pregnancy are considered to be normal which happen occasionally during the whole nine months of pregnancy and may be severe as your stomach gets bigger. During the first three months of pregnancy, this typically occurs in the abdomen area and is felt when you move like when changing positions, standing up, sneezing, coughing or when you are an active person.
A sharp, throbbing pain in the lower abdomen may signal a round ligament pain. This is the ligament that supports the uterus. The ligament is affected when the latter stretches. This kind of cramp can be felt anytime.
Leg cramps are felt on the second trimester as your belly gets bigger especially at night that you might not be able to sleep well.
Why it occurs
Feeling pain during pregnancy is nothing to worry about. Medical professionals explain that this is due to the expansion of the womb or uterus to make room for the baby. Cramping is usually felt in the right side of the belly as your uterus tilts to the right.
Other causes of cramps could be caused by sexual intercourse, gas or bloating, constipation and exercise. Eating plenty or eating the wrong kinds of food may cause stomach cramps because of constipation so be sure to eat healthily and with control. Having sex especially in the third trimester could make you feel as if you are having labour contractions. To avoid this, have slow sex and a gentle back massage after. Too much exercise meanwhile, may cause muscles or ligaments to strain so it is advisable to exercise lightly and with caution.
Leg cramps during pregnancy on the other hand, are caused by many reasons. It could be that your muscles are tired from carrying your progressing tummy putting force on the main vain from your legs. It could also be because of increasing hormones.
How to treat them
When having belly cramps during pregnancy, relax and try to rest by putting your feet up. Lie down to the side opposite to where you feel pain. Take a warm bath to relax your muscles or do some stretching even when seated. Put a warm bag on the area to lessen the aches.
To treat leg cramps, avoid standing or sitting legs crossed for long hours and getting too tired. Do some walking and drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. Once pain is felt, immediately stretch your legs and slowly flex your toes back toward your shins. It could hurt at first but doing it repeatedly will let the pain go away. Massaging the muscle may also help.
Another little exercise that could be done is standing facing a meter from a wall and stretching your arms to lean on it. Your feet should remain flat on the floor. Hold this position for 5 minutes and do repeatedly for 5 minutes three times a day before going to bed.
If the pain does not go away and you feel tenderness, warmness and see redness and swelling, call a doctor right away as this might be a blood clot. Blood clotting can happen during pregnancy.
When is it more of a concern
Generally, when the discomfort seems impossible to bear, believe in what your gut feel tells you. Go to a doctor especially if the contractions do not subside, it is accompanied by fever, has strange vaginal discharge with pain, bleeding, dizziness and gastrointestinal indications at the same time, vomiting, cramping along with pain in the neck and or shoulder, chills and pain with a burning sensation when peeing. Other causes of pain such as appendicitis, gall bladder problems, urinary tract infection (together with painful urination), ovarian cyst, kidney stones may also cause these pains that could be aggravated by your being pregnant.
Another possible cause of unusual spasms is miscarriage that occurs due to excessive activity causing the baby to be underdeveloped. The pain could be felt at the center of your lower belly around your 12th week. When you have vaginal spotting accompanied with pain in your abdomen, call for help immediately, lie or sit with your feet up while waiting for response.
If you feel the ache first in one part of your stomach then the pain spreads to some of its parts, you may have an ectopic pregnancy. This develops when the fertilized egg is implanted outside of the uterus around 5 to 10 weeks of pregnancy. You will also notice a dark and watery bleeding. This condition needs immediate medical attention.
When you feel cramps in your upper abdomen, this could be because of preeclampsia described as high blood pressure with protein in the urine.
A condition called placental abruption happens when the pain does not go away. This is said to be a life-threatening situation in which the placenta of the baby (the water-like thing where the baby is covered) is separated from the uterus.
Miscarriage rarely happens during the second trimester. But in case it does which could occur on the 12th week to 24th week of pregnancy, call a doctor or midwife when you see a slight vaginal discharge or bleeding. Go directly to the hospital if bleeding heavily.
Experiencing pain in the pelvic or lower stomach area sometime between your 24th to 37th week means you are going into premature labour as long as your waters haven’t broken yet. The pain is common and it means your body is prepping you up for delivery. Your uterus tightens and your lower back is in pain.
To ease the aches, go for a walk or take a rest. But if you feel these beyond your 37th week, this means that you are about to give birth. The good thing is that these pains you have been feeling will be less painful during delivery.
No pain no gain
With all the possible aches that could be felt here and there, this should not discourage mommies-to-be. All the pain will be worth it when you welcome your new bundle of joy.