Hard belly in pregnancy: cause & treatment
Even in my first pregnancy, my stomach was often very hard. Now, in my second pregnancy, the baby bump is actually very hard or “plump” all the time. I therefore looked into the question of what a hard stomach means during pregnancy and whether that can be dangerous.
In all women, the stomach gets hard again and again during pregnancy. It refers to painless practice contractions. But what if the pregnancy belly is almost consistently hard, as it is with me?
The normal case: temporarily hard stomach during practice contractions
The uterine muscles are made up of different layers. Some pull together in one direction, others in the other. at Exercise contractions, even Braxton-Hicks contractions, a certain muscle layer contracts for up to a minute and then lets it loose again. Your stomach becomes very hard and feels small. In later weeks of pregnancy you will feel the baby’s extremities, which protrude a little, very clearly under the abdominal wall.
Practice contractions are usually painless, and you may not really notice them by the end of the second trimester. You feel a maximum of a slight tug in the abdomen. In contrast to premature labor or true birth pains, they have no effect on the cervix, ie it does not become shorter or even open. On the contrary, practice contractions even ensure that it closes even more tightly.
With the practice contractions the uterine muscles “train” for the upcoming birth. Receptors are formed that ensure that the labor pains are as effective as possible later and that the birth does not last too long.
Other reasons for a temporarily hard stomach
Even with the Labor pains towards the end of the pregnancy the belly becomes hard and firm. Contractions feel similar to exercise or pre-contractions. They occur in many pregnant women when the baby’s head is pushed into the pelvis and the stomach slips down a little as a result.
Even Digestive problems Can cause cramps and contractions that may feel like labor but have nothing to do with it. In the case of digestive problems, very simple measures are best: lots of exercise, digestive teas, fiber, plenty of drinking, unsulphurized dried fruit or plum juice, as well as flaxseed can get digestion going.
Stress and physical activity can lead to a temporarily hard stomach. If you find that you are overloading yourself, you should urgently shift down a gear. The hard stomach is then, so to speak, a warning signal.
Also at frequent child movements tummy often becomes hard in late pregnancy. Because when the child kicks the uterine muscle outwards – and thus stretches it – the countermovement is usually a contraction of the muscles.
If the Uterus grows, there is also a hard stomach every now and then. The uterus grows in batches.
Consistently hard stomach during pregnancy: high muscle tone
So these are the reasons why the stomach gets hard every now and then in the last trimester. But what if the stomach is firm almost all the time and feels plump and tense – like mine? At first glance, there seems to be little answer in forums and corresponding posts.
That’s why I asked my midwife.
Your answer: I probably have a high fundamental tone of the uterine muscles. This means that the muscles are permanently very tense for some reason and can only be difficult to loosen up. So it is not about labor, but about tension. Of course, the transition to exercise or pre-contraction is fluid and my muscles are very sensitive to the corresponding impulses.
If the uterine muscles are permanently very tight, one also speaks of a Uterine hypertension: The abdomen is very tense and sensitive to pressure. It never or rarely feels soft and supple. This increased muscle tone usually occurs in the early stages of pregnancy, not in the last trimester.
According to my midwife, the cause simply cannot be determined in some women. The hard stomach is then uncomfortable and can lead to further side effects, but it does not require treatment or dangerous.
In some cases, however, a hard stomach is a symptom of an illness. Treating the high muscle tone yourself is therefore not always enough. Therefore, you should definitely speak to your gynecologist if your stomach is permanently hard.
Possible causes for the increased basic tone are:
- Hormonal disorder (lack of progesterone, too much androgens – male hormones)
- psychological factors / psychosomatic suffering
- Inflammation of the genital tract
- Tumor formation or myoma on the uterus
- Uterine malformations
- gynecological infections
Many of these diseases increase the risk of miscarriage or premature birth, undersupply of the fetus, spontaneous placenta detachment, or bleeding during pregnancy.
Of course, if a disease is diagnosed, it should be treated whenever possible.
Otherwise, only very simple treatment methods can help with “hyperactivity” of the uterine muscles:
- Good nutrition
- drink enough
- enough breaks
- Stress reduction
- Relaxation and breathing exercises, yoga
- moderate exercise in the fresh air
- Magnesium intake
You should always take magnesium in consultation with your doctor, but it is definitely useful if you have a hard stomach during pregnancy. However, you should stop it a few weeks before the birth, as it also inhibits labor.
Otherwise watch out foods rich in magnesium like banana, broccoli, legumes, and whole grains.
When a hard stomach is dangerous
If your stomach isn’t permanently hard, it can be dangerous when combined with other symptoms.
You should pay attention if you experience severe pain and / or vaginal bleeding. Then there is the risk of a sudden detachment of the placenta (this is very rare, however!): The stomach becomes as hard as a board and is sensitive to pressure. At the same time, nausea, general malaise and cramps can be associated with it. If you suspect such a complication, you should immediately drive to the emergency room, because then the medical professionals need to act quickly.
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