Having a baby is one of the most natural things in the world. You’ve probably heard people say this, or entertained this thought yourself. However, acknowledging the truth of this statement does little to help you relax when you are pregnant. Pregnancy can be a time of great joy, expectation and bliss. It can also create anxiety and stress in your life, especially when symptoms arise that may signal a problem with your pregnancy. The March of Dimes warns that severe abdominal cramping during pregnancy requires a call to your health care provider.
The severity of your pain may provide a valuable clue to help your doctor determine the cause of your discomfort. However, since people have different levels of pain thresholds, other symptoms can help your doctor make a diagnosis. You may experience vaginal discharge or bleeding, especially if your pain relates to your pregnancy. Other possible symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, bloating and constipation.
Causes of Pain
A variety of conditions can cause intense pain in your abdomen while you are pregnant. Many have nothing to do with your pregnant state. Kidney stones, bladder infections, bowel obstructions, appendicitis and food poisoning can produce abdominal pain. Obstetrical problems, such as an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and placental abruption, can cause you to experience severe pain.
Some women notice sharp pains or cramps when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. You might experience this symptom shortly before your expected period. This pain normally lasts only a day or two. Abdominal pains during the first three months can warn of a miscarriage. After this time, your pain can indicate preterm labor. Pain during the second trimester can be a sign of stretching ligaments, while pain near the end of your pregnancy can signal the separation of the placenta from your uterus. Pain that is unrelated to your pregnancy can occur at anytime.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience severe abdominal pain, whether you are pregnant or not. Your doctor may want to perform an ultrasound to determine the health of your baby and the condition of the placenta and uterus. He may also perform a physical exam to help pinpoint the location of your pain. Certain lab tests, such as a urinalysis, may help determine the cause of your pain.
Depending on the cause of your abdominal pain, your doctor may discuss treatment options with you. Natural conditions of pregnancy, such as pain that occurs when the fertilized egg implants in your uterus or pain caused by stretching ligaments, may not require treatment. Causes that threaten the health of your baby, such as placental abruption, may call for early delivery through a cesarean section, while other conditions, such as appendicitis or blocked bowel, may require surgery. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of your treatment options.
- pregnant woman image by TEA from Fotolia.com