Are abdominal cramps during pregnancy normal? (Query)

Read to find out what causes abdominal pain during pregnancy.

I am in my 17th week of pregnancy, and I often get a sharp, shooting pain in my abdomen. Is there anything to worry? Are abdominal cramps normal during pregnancy?

Query answered by Dr Sutopa Mukherjee, founder Nulife Hospital & Maternity Center, Delhi.

Pregnancy comes with a lot of worries. Every pregnancy brings on so many questions. Even the slightest of pain in any part of your body can make you Google its causes. However, things like abdominal cramps are symptoms of pregnancy and are typically normal.

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What causes abdominal pain?

During the early stages of pregnancy, bloating and constipation can cause abdominal cramps. In fact, cramping due to bloating and constipation can be one of the first signs of pregnancy. Also, when you are pregnant, your uterus expands, and that kind of expansion can cause pain. You may experience slight to moderate cramps when your uterus is growing. You could also experience a shooting pain in your lower abdomen due to the stretching of the ligament, with the pain travelling to the groin area. You must seek medical advice any time you feel severe, persistent pain. This is a common occurrence in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

In the later stages of pregnancy, you should take abdominal cramps seriously. Braxton Hicks contractions or false contractions can cause abdominal discomfort. However, if you get contractions before your 37th week of pregnancy with a dull abdominal pain and persistent backache, it could mean preterm labour.

When to take it seriously?

If your abdominal pain is more like menstrual-like cramping along with bleeding or spotting it could mean miscarriage. If abdominal pain is persistent, severe and worsens with time, it could mean placental abruption where the placenta tears from the uterine wall. If you experience any such symptoms, you must call seek medical help immediately.

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