Many women experience abdominal cramping soon after they have conceived. Since the menstrual cycle has often brought about a similar kind of pain, it is not taken very seriously.
The general notion is that the pain is caused by hormonal changes in the body and the uterus growing larger in size. In some cases, the pain is perceived in the earliest stage of pregnancy; while in others, the symptoms continue even a few weeks later.
What can this symptom of ‘abdominal cramping’ actually be revealing to a pregnant woman?
(1) Constipation, Braxton-Hicks contractions (muscle contractions) or even just gas and bloating following abdominal pain could cause complacency.
After all, these things are very normal and can even be caused by gastrointestinal problems! Harmless or harmful – wiser to visit the gynecologist.
(2) The pain just refuses to go away. Instead, other symptoms such as nausea accompanied by vomiting, feeling of faintness, fever and chills, bleeding/spotting, urination causing discomfort, or vaginal discharge develop. Well then, it is a difficult pregnancy and problems can crop up later.
(3) The abdominal cramping can be coming on and going off at unusual times in the beginning itself, or worsening symptoms are visualized round about 6 or 7 weeks after fertilization.
The situation is definitely serious. The fertilized egg could have implanted itself somewhere outside the uterus (ectopic pregnancy), bringing on these abnormal spasmodic contractions.
(4) In fact, if movement of bowels, coughing or any kind of physical activity brings on terrible pain, vaginal bleeding/spotting, or cause pelvic tenderness and pain, the woman is heading for an ectopic pregnancy.
There is also pain at the tips of the shoulders. Immediate consultation is required for such pregnancies have often proved fatal.
(5) Should the mother-to-be exhibit swollen hands, a swollen face, puffy eyes, as well as suddenly swollen feet and ankles to an excessive extent, she is suffering from Preeclampsia.
A severe disorder can cause terrible headaches with visual disturbances, nausea with vomiting, and the upper abdomen experiencing extreme pain with tenderness.
Changes in her blood vessels have manifested as abdominal cramping. Vital organs like the brain, liver, kidneys, even the placenta could be affected.
A clinical diagnosis of this disorder is possible by checking the blood pressure (generally, high) and presence of protein in urine, 20 weeks into the pregnancy.
(6) Sometimes, the unborn baby is “miscarried” while in just the fifth month of pregnancy. The first symptom of this is light or heavy spotting/bleeding, followed by either intermittent or prolonged abdominal cramping.
The pain is generally described as moderate or stabbing in nature. It can be confused with pelvic pressure or low back pain.
(7) Abdominal cramping accompanied by muscle contractions (the cervix is undergoing dilation) can indicate preterm labor. This is somewhere around 37 weeks into the pregnancy.
Pelvic pressure increases, there is changed/increased vaginal discharge along with spotting/bleeding, low back pain is present, and contractions may increase to more than four in one hour.
(8) To conclude, a truly serious situation which can cause abdominal cramping in an advanced stage of pregnancy is a condition called abruptio placentae (the placenta gets partially or completely separated from the uterus). This occurs just before the birth of the baby.
This condition comes to light when the uterus feels very tender, contractions are prolonged, back pain is present, there is sudden bleeding (sometimes, bleeding may be very light or not be seen at all), and movements of the baby begin to decrease.