Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times of a women’s life. Your little bundle of joy is on its way and you couldn’t be happier until, CRAMP. What was that? Is something wrong? Cramping during pregnancy can be a frightening experience even for those of us who have more than one pregnancy. It’s good to remember that the uterus is a muscle and it will respond to any stimulus by cramping. This is completely normal, a full bladder, exercise, growth and more can all lead to these scary cramps, but what cramps are normal and when should you be worried?
In early pregnancy our bodies start going through an amazing change and everything starts growing, stretching and yes, cramping. The majority of women will experience some mild cramping during early pregnancy and although many women may fear it’s due to miscarriage this is not usually the case. Bloating, gas and stretching of the uterus can all lead to mild cramps and are a completely normal part of early pregnancy. Although if you are experiencing bad cramping accompanied with bleeding then see your DR as soon as possible to rule out miscarriage.
The second trimester is usually smooth sailing, many fears are relieved and you start to feel a bit better in yourself. During this time most women don’t really experience cramping although there is always an expectation to the rule. Round ligament stretching can lead to mildly painful cramps, this is where the uterus is expanding further to accompany your growing baby, constipation may still happening during this time and can cause further discomfort and cramping. Women who are carrying multiples will tend to experience more cramps then women who are only carrying one baby; this is because the uterus must grow much more rapidly to accompany the extra babies.
Now that you have entered the third trimester you may start to notice those famous Braxton Hicks start to kick in. these are what we call “practice” contractions and although they may feel like the real thing they are just your bodies way of preparing for birth. Braxton hicks can come and go and can become quite painful; a good way to tell them apart from real contractions is to start timing them. start the clock from the onset of the contraction and note down how long it lasted, keep timing till the onset of the next contraction, if they are coming at regular intervals then give the hospital a ring, it may be preterm labour, actual labour or still only Braxton hicks, the nurses can give you a good idea of what you may be experiencing.
When not to worry
As you can see there is a number of completely normal reasons that can cause cramping during pregnancy including:
- After sex- semen contains prostaglandins which can stimulate the uterus and lead to contractions and cramps. Orgasms can also send pretty powerful cramping sensations throughout the uterus.
- Changing positions- if a change of position makes your cramps better or even worse than this is also usually just a sign of ligament stretching and is not a concern.
- Bowel movement or gas- if you are experiencing cramping and either a bowel movement or the passing of gas relieves the pain then you can also be sure that this is a normal issue and is more related to the pressure on your intestines from your growing uterus.
When it’s not normal
Although cramping can be completely normal during pregnancy there are times that warrant concern and should be addressed with your DR as soon as possible.
- If you are bleeding- although bleeding may also be nothing to worry about it can be a sign of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or placenta Previa
- 6 or more contractions in an hour- if you are not full term then this can be a sign of preterm labour. Call you hospital as they can access your symptoms and if needed stop early labour.
Cramping is not the most pleasant part of pregnancy but there is a few things you can try to stop the pain.
- First off try changing positions; sometimes this is all you need to stop them.
- Put your feet up, drink some water and rest. Growing a baby is hard work on your body and rest can help to ease up any cramping.
- A warm shower may also help to ease any tension that may be causing the cramping. Never use a heat pack on your belly as this can raise your body temperature which is dangerous during pregnancy.
- Call your DR or hospital. The Dr’s and nurses are trained to understand the pregnant women’s symptoms and they are always happy to help. They know that cramping can be scary for mammas to be, so don’t feel as if your being silly by calling them, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
The bottom line
Most cramping is a completely normal experience during pregnancy and although it can be uncomfortable and scary there is usually nothing to worry about. Take care of yourself and rest often, it’s not easy being pregnant but when that tiny bubba is in your arms it will all be worth it.