Why do you get cramps during pregnancy? When is cramping during pregnancy a cause for concern?
Cramping during Pregnancy
What does cramping signify?
When you are pregnant, the ligaments that connect your bones must stretch to accommodate your growing baby in the womb (uterus). When the womb shifts during growth, the ligament contract, and you get cramps. This cramping sensation is more commonly felt on the right side.
Cramps during pregnancy can also be a result of indigestion, muscle strain due to exercise, rapid movement, false contractions, or sexual intercourse.
How do the cramps feel?
Cramps during pregnancy usually feel like menstrual cramps and are one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms. In fact, they are often mistaken for menstrual cramps as they may start occurring already before your first missed period. In the first few months of pregnancy, cramps will usually be accompanied by other symptoms including spotting, tender breasts, tiredness, constipation, and nausea. Generally, the more babies you carry in your womb, the more intense the cramping.
How can you relieve your camps?
Pregnancy cramps can be treated much like menstrual cramps, by applying moderate heat to the troubled area. Take a warm bath or sit down, throw your feet up, and relax with a warm blanket. If your cramps are on just one side of your body, try lying down on the opposite side. You should also drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest. Regular exercise can help you strengthen your muscles to avoid severe cramping.
As you near the time of labor, you may experience some Braxton-Hicks (false) contractions with increasing severity. This type of cramping is unpredictable and unpreventable. When you experience this type of cramping during pregnancy, it is best to sit down, stretch out, or walk around.
When is there cause for concern?
Although cramps during pregnancy are to be expected, when they are accompanied by other conditions, something else might be amidst. Contact your physician to get checked if you experience any of these signs:
- Cramping accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, a fever, or other aches and pains. This may be a sign of the flu, food poisoning, a bladder infection, or another illness.
- Cramping accompanied by spotting, often heavy, and vaginal discharge of tissue or fluid. This can be a sign of miscarriage.
- Spotting in the early weeks of pregnancy may be a sign that your fertilized egg has implanted itself in the wrong place and the pregnancy is not viable. In this case, you will require medical attention to cease the pregnancy.
- Cramping accompanied by more than five contractions within a short amount of time. This can be a sign of early labor.
- Cramping is a natural part of pregnancy and is usually no cause for concern, but feel free to consult your midwife or doctor. This will put your mind at rest and help make sure that everything is okay.