Cramping during pregnancy is a problem for many women, especially during the first trimester. For most women, this is normal. There are a number of causes that can contribute to cramps. A number of easy solutions can help alleviate pain from cramps. Sometimes women may worry that cramping is a sign that something is going wrong with the pregnancy. In cases of severe cramping, these fears may be warranted, but in the vast majority of cases there is an explanation for cramping that can help ease fears that there is something wrong with the fetus. Most cramping is mild to moderate and can be managed similarly to menstrual cramps.
Types Of Cramps During Pregnancy
The most common cause for cramping in early pregnancy is implantation cramping. As the egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, most women will experience cramping in a way that feels similar to menstrual cramps. After implantation, the uterus grows and prepares to sustain the pregnancy, and this will cause the cramping to continue, although it will probably feel the same as the implantation cramping did. Mild cramping in this part of the pregnancy is nothing to be concerned about, and can even be viewed as positive cramping since it is an indicator that your body is preparing itself to be pregnant for nine months.
Another common type of cramping happens slightly further into the pregnancy and might continue as the uterus keeps growing with the baby. This is called round ligament pain, which is a result of the muscles and ligaments supporting the uterus expanding and dropping lower into the abdomen to support the uterus as the pregnancy runs its course. Pregnant women will feel this the most during the first and second trimesters as the baby rapidly grows, making the uterus and its supporting ligaments grow with it. Implantation and round ligament cramping can be treated the same way as menstrual pain, with hot baths, heating pads and mild exercise.
Braxton Hicks cramps
Later in pregnancy, some women experience Braxton Hicks cramps that may feel like early labor. These happen in the third trimester. As the pregnancy nears its end and the body prepares for birth, the uterus prepares itself for labor by training, stretching and releasing its muscles. These can happen with very little warning, as they generally happen at intervals that are not regular. They do not last as long as labor contractions do, nor do they occur with the same regularity. While most women who experience a Braxton Hicks cramp will initially be alarmed, especially if they are still some distance away from their due date, the cramp can easily be diagnosed as false labor and does not need any additional attention. Exercise will usually exacerbate these cramps, but a warm bath or electric blanket can provide some relief.
During the earliest stages of pregnancy, sometimes cramping is experienced that is very severe and painful. While mild to moderate cramps are normal, severe cramps usually are not. Sometimes severe cramps are accompanies by bleeding or vaginal discharge, light headedness, chills or fever. Any of these symptoms mean that you should call your healthcare provider immediately. Severe cramps, especially those accompanied by worrisome symptoms can be a sign of a number of problems that need immediate attention. These include ectopic pregnancy and pre-eclampsia, both of which are a serious diagnosis. However, in milder cases, pregnancy cramping relief can be sought out easily.