Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Cramps During Pregnancy: Your Symptoms Manual


What Cramps During Pregnancy Are

Cramps are sudden pain in your abdomen or uterus. The pain associated with cramps can range from mild to severe. Leg cramps are also common (see Leg Cramps During Pregnancy for more information).

Implantation cramping can occur 8 to 10 days after ovulation during your first trimester. You shouldn't feel any implantation cramping after you've had a positive pregnancy test. In early pregnancy, you may also experience constipation or bloating that feels like gas pain or cramps.

As your baby grows, you may feel cramps on one or both sides of your abdomen or toward your back when you change positions. These ligament cramps are most common between 14 to 20 weeks, but can occur at any time.

Why Cramps During Pregnancy Happen

Cramps can be a signal of a problem or just another sign of a stretching and growing uterus. Early on in the pregnancy, you may experience implantation cramping, when the fertilized egg implants in your uterus. As your baby grows, your expanding belly adds pressure on the muscles, joints, ligaments and surrounding organs. The ligaments surrounding and supporting your uterus stretch and this leads to cramping. At this stage, the support is coming from the ligaments but as you uterus gets larger, the pelvic bones will help to support it. All of these cramps are perfectly normal.

However, some cramps can signal a problem. Cramps accompanied by spotting or bleeding is a warning sign of a possible miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. If you have any type of bleeding, call your doctor right away.

How to Relieve Cramps During Pregnancy

  • Try lying down on your side until the cramp goes away.

  • Place a hot water bottle on the area where you feel discomfort.

  • Ask your partner for a massage.

  • Rest.

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