Most moms know that morning sickness may be a part of their pregnancies. However, actual abdominal pain can also occur that is not related to nausea or vomiting. This symptom usually feels like menstrual pain or a stomach ache. Knowing the differences between regular pregnancy-related pain and signs of a possible emergency medical situation is important, as severe abdominal pain during pregnancy might indicate a life-threatening condition.
Sudden and sharp abdominal pain, especially during the first three months of pregnancy, can indicate a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes. An ectopic or tubal pregnancy means the embryo is located in a fallopian tube rather than the uterus. These pregnancies cannot proceed normally and must be terminated through surgery or injections, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Mild to moderate abdominal pain during pregnancy is usually caused by the stretching of the muscles and ligaments that support the uterus, according to the March of Dimes. It also may be the result of constipation, heartburn, gas pains from the growth of hormones that slow down the speed of digestion or general pressure from the growing baby pressing upon the uterus.
Near the end of pregnancy, abdominal pain can indicate impending labor, according to the March of Dimes. However, keep in mind that false labor pains often occur. If the contractions stop when you walk or are otherwise irregular, this pain usually means your baby is not really on his way out of your birth canal.
While you can’t prevent every potentially painful pregnancy side effect, you can reduce your risk of abdominal pain, according to the March of Dimes. Changing positions or engaging in light activity, like housework, may relieve gas-related pregnancy pains. You can also try taking a warm bath or shower or using a heating pad. Also, eating healthy, regular meals and keeping well-hydrated can potentially reduce many pregnancy-related side effects, including abdominal pain.
If your abdominal pain is accompanied by weakness or clot-like bleeding, this could indicate a possible miscarriage, according to MedlinePlus. Typically, a miscarriage would occur before the 20th week of pregnancy; most occur before a woman is seven weeks pregnant. The risk of miscarriage is higher in women over the age of 35 and women who have suffered from previous miscarried pregnancies. About 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women suffer from a miscarriage.
- Fast-growing part of a body image by YURY MARYUNIN from Fotolia.com