What Causes Abdominal Pain in Early Pregnancy?

Abdominal pain in early pregnancy may be caused by miscarriage.
The uterus stretches during pregnancy, which can cause pain.
Appendicitis may cause abdominal pain in early pregnancy.
Constipation may cause abdominal pain in early pregnancy.
Abdominal pain in early pregnancy could indicate an impending miscarriage.
Ectopic pregnancy is a possible cause of severe abdominal pain during the first trimester.
There are a number of reasons for abdominal pain during early pregnancy.
Abdominal pain in early pregnancy may be caused by constipation.
A ruptured ovarian cyst can be the source of pain in early pregnancy.
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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 December 2014
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Abdominal pain in early pregnancy may be a result of the uterus stretching, ectopic pregnancy, or possibly an impending miscarriage. In most cases, mild discomfort in the abdomen during the first few months of pregnancy is because of the uterus stretching. This is not considered serious, and it is a reported pregnancy side effect in most women. Constipation is another side effect in early pregnancy that could result in abdominal pain. If any abdominal pain is incredibly severe and accompanied by vaginal bleeding, it is likely that something more serious is wrong.

Women tend to get constipated early in pregnancy because the body begins to produce more progesterone. The production of this hormone often causes food to move much more slowly through the digestive system. Prenatal vitamins could also contribute to pregnancy constipation due to the high levels of iron in each pill. Constipation that is severe could easily result in abdominal pain during pregnancy, but this condition can usually be remedied with stool softeners and an increase in dietary fiber.

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Ectopic pregnancy is a possible cause of severe abdominal pain in the first trimester. This happens when the egg implants inside the fallopian tubes or elsewhere outside the uterus. The first sign a woman may notice is vaginal bleeding followed by lower abdominal pain that intensifies with time. Vomiting, dizziness, and shoulder pain could also occur. It is very important for a woman experiencing these symptoms to get medical attention as soon as possible.

There is a slight chance that abdominal pain in early pregnancy may be related to miscarriage. The pain usually starts off mildly and intensifies over time. Bleeding almost always accompanies a miscarriage. The blood is usually bright red in color, but in some cases it may start off as a brownish color and change to bright red. Lower back pain is often felt in addition to abdominal pain.

Other causes of abdominal pain in early pregnancy may be appendicitis, an ovarian cyst rupture, or a urinary tract infection. These ailments tend to cause abdominal pain in a person whether she is pregnant or not. Most of the time, minor abdominal pain in early pregnancy that is not accompanied by bleeding is nothing to worry about. In many cases, a woman's instinct won't steer her wrong. It is probably a good idea for a pregnant woman to err on the side of caution and consult her doctor if she is concerned about any early pregnancy symptoms.

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anon299995
Post 11

I had an ectopic pregnancy in April of this year. I had light spotting from the beginning of the time I knew that I was pregnant. My progesterone was low. I had to have a shot of methotrexate to get rid of the pregnancy.

Now I am pregnant, my hormone levels are good, but I went for a 2 mile walk today and had a brief twisting pain in my left lower abdomen. I am really scared that I have an ectopic pregnancy again.

StarJo
Post 10

@OeKc05 - There have been documented cases of survival in ectopic pregnancies, but these were situations in which the embryo sat upon abdominal organs and found a sufficient blood supply. They had to be delivered by laparoscopy. This type of pregnancy is very dangerous, though, and the babies very rarely make it.

I had an ectopic pregnancy, and I had to have the fetus removed. I had stabbing pain in my pelvis, I fainted from blood loss, and I had dangerously low blood pressure.

Because my baby had implanted into my fallopian tube, he would not have made it anyway. I had to have laparoscopy to remove the fetus.

OeKc05
Post 9

I have heard that in ectopic pregnancies, the fetus will burst the organ containing it. The severe bleeding and damage can endanger the mother. Does anyone know if it is possible to give birth to a baby who started out as ectopic? I just wonder if it is even possible, without the protection of the womb, for a fetus to make it nine months.

It seems to me that the risk to the mother is so definite that the fetus would have to be removed. I know that would be a controversial issue, but if the baby has no chance of surviving, it seems like the best choice.

lighth0se33
Post 8

After several successful pregnancies, my friend had a miscarriage. It really surprised her, because her pregnancies had always gone so smoothly.

She knew that something must be wrong when she saw the blood in her underwear. It was so bright, and it was more than just spotting. Later on that day, her lower back really began to ache. It was a dull soreness, but it was also intense.

After she found out she had miscarried, she wanted to try again to get pregnant. I know this was to fill the void, but unfortunately, she miscarried once more not long after that. She became depressed and afraid to set herself up for disappointment.

shell4life
Post 7

Even before I got pregnant, I had problems with constipation, so I knew what it felt like. After I became pregnant, I had the same pain, but it was worse. The combination of uterus stretching and blocked bowels made it hard to stand up straight. I spent several days doubled over while waiting for my gentle stool softeners to work.

Eventually, they kicked in and I got some relief. I made sure to eat whole grain cereals for breakfast to up my fiber intake. I also switched to seven-grain bread.

Though I still had some pain in my uterus, the majority of it went away once my bowels moved. I continued taking stool softeners to prevent that from happening again.

blackDagger
Post 6

I had a little cramping with my first child early on, but I had some pretty serious cramping the second go around.

With the oldest, it was almost like menstrual cramps and I really didn’t get worried. I had heard that pulling and twinges in the tummy were pretty common. There was never any blood or anything like that, so I felt pretty secure that we were both safe.

However, when I became pregnant with my second child I had some pretty painful stabbing pains on my left side. Sometimes it would bring tears to my eyes it hurt so badly.

Come to find out, though, it was nothing serious. It was simply where the muscles were restretching and they were really unhappy about that.

Agni3
Post 5

Although most people’s thoughts go to miscarriage or tubal pregnancy when they think of abdominal pain in early pregnancy, there are actually many reasons that this could happen.

Try to stay calm if this is happening to you. Definitely call your OB/GYN, but try not to overreact. That could actually make the pain worse.

Just try to sit down and get comfortable. If you need help because you’re so scared, definitely call a friend or family member or significant other.

Don’t feel silly, either. There is no way to know if there is a real problem or not on your own. Just go ahead and get the help that you need. Lots of times a simple call to your doctor will give them a good indication of whether you are in trouble or not.

This is their job and they see it all of the time, so take heart in knowing you aren’t the only one who’s ever called in over such a thing as cramping.

indemnifyme
Post 4

@SZapper - That sounds like it was really scary for your friend! I'm glad she's ok though.

A good friend of mine had a miscarriage recently. She was a few weeks late on her period, but wasn't sure if she was pregnant. She started experiencing really severe abdominal pain and cramping, and then she got what she thought was her period.

However, she told me the blood was a little bit pinker than usual. Also, she normally doesn't really even get cramps. She decided to go to the doctor to see what was going on and the doctor told her she had had a miscarriage. Apparently miscarriages early on are pretty much just like a really bad period.

SZapper
Post 3

A friend of mine had an ectopic pregnancy a few years ago. She did know she was pregnant, but since she and her boyfriend hadn't told anymore else yet because it was so early on.

One day, she was with her boyfriend and his family and she started experiencing abdominal pain. At first she ignored it because she didn't want to alarm anyone, but then it got so severe she ended up passing out. They had to call an ambulance and rush her to the hospital. She is fine, but she's been too scared to try to get pregnant again.

Kat919
Post 2

@MrsWinslow - Well, it does help if you know you could be pregnant, and if you're trying to conceive, that actually makes it easier to know. Keep good track of your cycles. If they're irregular at all, you might want to use an ovulation predictor kit. It not only lets you know when your last chance to conceive that month is, it will also help you know when to expect your period.

Most women will get their period 14 days after ovulation, with 12-16 being the normal range. So if you get a positive result on the OPK and then two and a half weeks go by with no visit from Aunt Flo, you'll know to take a pregnancy test.

Sure, things can go wrong with pregnancy and childbirth, but you drive a car, right? Fly on airplanes? Be in touch with your body and choose a doctor or midwife you can really trust.

As far as when to be worried when you're pregnant, my doctor's office always said to be worried if it was sharp pain, pain on just one side, and/or bleeding like a period. Menstrual-type cramping, even combined with spotting (not bright red) isn't usually cause for concern, but bleeding or spotting is never considered "normal," so you should still cause the office.

MrsWinslow
Post 1

How do you know whether to be worried or not? A good friend of mine almost died from a ruptured tubal pregnancy. And now her chances of getting pregnant again are lower because she has only one Fallopian tube. But she didn't even know she was pregnant!

I'm trying to conceive right now and the thought of all the things that could go wrong is terrifying!

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