Abdominal Discomfort During First Trimester of Pregnancy

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Though it’s a fairly common symptom of pregnancy, having pain in your abdomen after finding out you are pregnant can be upsetting and worrisome. There are several causes for normal abdominal discomfort during the first trimester, and a few key warning signs that can tell you when it’s time to talk to your doctor.

Warning Signs

When you have one or more of the following abdominal symptoms, it’s time to call the doctor, say Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway, authors of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”: bleeding with cramps or pain in the center, lower abdominal area; severe or unabated abdominal pain (continuing for more than one day); cramping and/or bleeding when you have a history of miscarriage; and sharp, crampy pain with tenderness in the lower abdomen. If the pain is unbearably severe or the bleeding is very heavy, get medical attention immediately.

Pressure

Very early in the pregnancy, the newly formed baby travels down the Fallopian tube and into the uterus, where it attaches to the uterine wall for its source of nourishment. This usually occurs about a week after conception, and many women feel pressure or pain when it happens. Murkoff, Eisenberg and Hathaway also state that lower abdominal pressure can occur simply because of the buildup of the uterine lining, growth of the uterus and/or increased blood flow.

Nausea

Possibly the most common complaint of pregnancy, nausea is often an ongoing source of abdominal discomfort. It certainly isn’t limited to the morning hours. According to Murkoff, Eisenberg and Hathaway, hormonal changes can increase feelings of nausea, as can stress and physical or mental fatigue. Combat the nausea by getting adequate rest, staying hydrated and eating often throughout the day to avoid hunger pains that can induce nausea. Nausea often decreases after the first trimester, so take heart.

Mild Cramps

Don’t worry if you experience mild cramps, an achiness, or a pulling sensation in your abdomen on one or both sides, the authors say. As your uterus grows, the ligaments that support the uterus must stretch to do their job. That can cause this type of abdominal discomfort.

Intestinal Problems

Constipation and gas are both very common symptoms of pregnancy, say Murkoff, Eisenberg and Hathaway. Increased hormone levels and a growing uterus can cause constipation, and constipation often creates gas and bloating. Such symptoms can start early–even before you can see your belly expand from the outside–but you can discourage them by eating plenty of fiber, drinking lots of water and getting regular exercise.

Sex

You may have worries about sex hurting your baby. When you experience cramping during or after orgasm, it’s easy to assume the worst. Fear not, the authors say; cramping due to orgasm is common and harmless during a normal pregnancy, with low risk. The cause can be physical (increased blood flow and muscle contractions during sex) or mental (fear and worry of hurting the baby), or a combination.

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