Belly Pain in Pregnancy: What Can It Be and How to Treat It?
Find out in today’s article what to do to alleviate this discomfort that affects many pregnant women, as well as what the possible causes are.
What Causes Tummy Pain During Pregnancy?
First, know that this pain is normal during this period of pregnancy!
Pregnant women usually have episodes of abdominal pain or pelvic pain of small to moderate intensity throughout their pregnancy due to the countless physiological and anatomical changes that the pregnant woman’s body undergoes.
While most causes of abdominal pain in pregnancy are benign and to be expected, some of them may be a sign of a more serious problem.
In addition to complications inherent to pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancy, abortion or problems in the uterus or placenta, pregnant women can also have abdominal diseases common to any individual, such as appendicitis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis, urinary tract infections, gastroenteritis, etc.
Therefore, if you are a pregnant woman, it is important to educate yourself about the most common causes of abdominal pain in pregnancy so that you will be able to recognize symptoms that could indicate potentially serious problems.
Abdominal pain in pregnancy can be caused by several factors, such as: uterine growth, constipation or gas.
It can be relieved through balanced diet, exercise or teas.
However, it can also indicate more serious situations, such as ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption, pre-eclampsia or even miscarriage.
In these cases, the pain is usually accompanied by vaginal bleeding, swelling or discharge, and in this case, the pregnant woman must go to the hospital immediately.
Here are the most common causes of abdominal pain in pregnancy:
Belly pain – In the 1st trimester of pregnancy
The main causes of abdominal pain in the first trimester of pregnancy, which corresponds to the period 1 to 12 weeks of gestation, include:
1. Urinary Infection
Urinary tract infection is a very common problem in pregnancy and it is more frequent in early pregnancy and can be seen through the appearance of pain in the lower abdomen, burning and difficulty in urinating, urgent desire to urinate even with little urine , fever and nausea.
What to do: It is recommended to go to the doctor for a urine test to confirm the urinary infection and start treatment with antibiotics, rest and fluid intake.
2. Ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy happens due to the growth of the fetus outside the uterus, being more common in the fallopian tubes and, therefore, it can appear up to 10 weeks of gestation.
Ectopic pregnancy is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain on only one side of the belly and worsening with movement, vaginal bleeding, pain during intimate contact, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.
What to do: In case of suspicion of ectopic pregnancy, one should immediately go to the emergency room to confirm the diagnosis and initiate the appropriate treatment, which is usually carried out starting with surgery to remove the embryo.
Miscarriage is an emergency situation and most often occurs before 20 weeks and can be seen through abdominal pain in the foot of the belly, vaginal bleeding or loss of fluid through the vagina, clots or tissue leaking out, and headache. .
What to do: In this case, we recommend that the mother immediately go to the hospital for an ultrasound to check the baby’s heartbeat and confirm the diagnosis.
When the baby is lifeless, curettage or surgery should be performed to remove it, but when the baby is still alive, treatments can be performed to save the baby.
in the 2nd quarter
Pain in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, which corresponds to the period of 13 to 24 weeks, is usually caused by problems such as:
Pre-eclampsia is a sudden increase in blood pressure during pregnancy, which is difficult to treat and which can pose a risk to both the woman and the baby.
The main signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia are pain in the upper right part of the abdomen, nausea, headache, swelling of the hands, legs and face, and blurred vision.
What to do: It is recommended to go to the obstetrician as soon as possible to assess blood pressure and start inpatient treatment because this is a serious situation that endangers the lives of both mother and baby.
Belly pain – 2. Placental detachment
Placental abruption is a serious pregnancy problem that can develop after 20 weeks and can lead to premature birth or miscarriage depending on the weeks of pregnancy.
This situation causes symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, contractions and pain in the lower back.
What to do: Immediately go to the hospital to assess the baby’s heartbeat and undergo treatment, which can be done with drugs to prevent uterine contraction and rest. In more serious cases, delivery can be done before the scheduled date, if necessary.
3. Training Contracts
Braxton Hicks contractions are training contractions that usually start after 20 weeks and last for less than 60 seconds, although they can happen several times a day and cause little abdominal pain.
At this point, the belly is momentarily tight, which doesn’t always cause abdominal pain. But in some cases there may be pain in the vagina or in the foot of the belly, which lasts for a few seconds and then disappears.
What to do: It is important at this time to try to stay calm, rest and change position, lying on your side and placing a pillow under your stomach or between your legs to feel more comfortable.
in the 3rd quarter
The main causes of abdominal pain in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, which corresponds to the period from 25 to 41 weeks, are:
Stomach pain – 1. Constipation and gas
Constipation is more common in late pregnancy due to the effect of hormones and the pressure of the uterus on the intestine.
This decreases its functioning, facilitating the development of constipation and the appearance of gas.
Both constipation and gas lead to discomfort or abdominal pain on the left side and cramps, and the belly may be more hardened in this area of pain.
What to do: Eat fiber-rich foods such as wheat germ, vegetables, cereals, watermelon, papaya, lettuce and oats, drink about 2 liters of water a day, and do light physical exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week .
We recommend consulting your doctor if the pain doesn’t improve on the same day, if you don’t poop for 2 days in a row, or if you experience other symptoms such as fever or increased pain.
2. Round ligament pain
Pain in the round ligament arises from excessive stretching of the ligament that connects the uterus to the pelvic region, due to the bulging belly.
This causes pain in the lower abdomen that extends to the groin and lasts only a few seconds.
What to do: Sit down, try to relax and, if it helps, change position to relieve pressure on the ligamentum teres.
Other options are to bend your knees under your abdomen or lie on your side with a pillow under your stomach and another between your legs.
Labor is the main cause of abdominal pain in late pregnancy and is characterized by:
- abdominal pain;
- increased vaginal discharge;
- gelatinous discharge;
- vaginal bleeding;
- uterine contractions at regular intervals.
What to do: Go to the hospital to assess whether you are really in labor, as these pains can become regular for a few hours, but can disappear completely overnight, for example.
They can also reappear the next day, with the same characteristics.
If possible, we recommend calling the doctor to confirm that it is labor and when to go to the hospital.
Stomach pain – When to go to the hospital
In summary, persistent abdominal pain on the right side near the hip and a low-grade fever that can develop at any stage of pregnancy may indicate appendicitis.
This situation can be serious and, therefore, should be identified as soon as possible, and it is ideal to go to the hospital immediately.
In addition, you should also go to the hospital immediately or consult the obstetrician who monitors the pregnancy when you present:
- Abdominal pain before 12 weeks’ gestation, with or without vaginal bleeding;
- Vaginal bleeding and severe cramps;
- Splitting headache;
- More than 4 contractions in 1 hour for 2 hours;
- Marked swelling of hands, legs and face;
- Pain when urinating, difficulty urinating or bloody urine;
- Fever and chills;
- Vaginal discharge.
Finally, the presence of these symptoms can indicate a serious complication such as pre-eclampsia or ectopic pregnancy.
Therefore, it is important for the woman to consult the obstetrician or go to the hospital immediately to receive the best treatment as soon as possible.
By following all of our tips above you will be able to avoid abdominal pain, which causes a lot of discomfort in future moms.
Finally, don’t despair, remember to take a deep breath and watch your body’s signals!
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