Is it normal to have lower abdominal pain during pregnancy?

Est-ce normal d’avoir des douleurs au bas du ventre pendant la grossesse ?

Contractions and tightness in the lower abdomen are recurrent complaints during pregnancy. But when should you start worrying? And how can you tell? We explain.

Why does a pregnant woman feel pain in her lower abdomen?

During the pregnancy, it's common to feel various types of pain in the lower abdomen. While they can be very distressing, they are quite common.

Throughout pregnancy, different symptoms can appear in different areas of the body.

  • Some women experience lower back pain;
  • Some will have sensitive breasts, aching at the slightest touch;
  • Some are prone to heavy legs (due to slower blood circulation);
  • And finally, some may be prone to pregnancy sciatica.

The most worrying pain for women remains that linked to the foetus and the way it's growing.

Early pregnancy: the 1st trimester

During the first trimester, pain in the lower abdomen is often stressful for sufferers. In fact, they may suggest a miscarriage.

Mid-pregnancy: the 2nd trimester

With hormones, ligaments tend to loosen and create tension in the lower abdomen. It's also possible that, under the effect of hormones, your muscles will relax and cause pain in the lower abdomen. This can radiate throughout the pelvic region and into the lumbar region, making walking more difficult.

Late pregnancy: the 3rd trimester

It's during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy that contractions and pain in the lower abdomen can occur again. The volume of the belly, combined with the weight of the baby, puts enormous pressure on the ligaments. The production of relaxin, the hormone responsible for the post-delivery softening of ligament and muscle tissues, increases.

This is known as Lacomme syndrome.

How to recognize the different causes of pregnancy tummy aches?

Pregnancy pain can be due to a variety of causes: digestive, pelvic or bladder, ligamentous.

Bladder and pelvic pain

Bladder pain is felt as heaviness in the lower abdomen, with recurrent urges to urinate. It may also be accompanied by burning sensations. This is in fact aurinary infection, also known as cystitis. These are very common in pregnant women.

The hormones secreted during pregnancy, combined with the dilation of the ureters (which are compressed by the enlarged uterus), encourage urinary tract infections.

Some urinary tract infections can cause uterine contractions and threaten premature delivery. It is advisable to carry out an ECBU (urine cytobacteriological examination) to confirm the infection and determine the causative germ. Following this examination, your healthcare professional will prescribe antibiotic treatment.

In addition to bladder pain, pregnant women can also suffer from pelvic tension in early pregnancy. These are located under the abdomen and between the hips. They are often acute discomforts that can take the form of cramps, resembling menstrual cramps.

Pelvic pain in the first trimester of pregnancy may be a sign of ectopic pregnancy or ovarian torsion.

Ligament pain

Ligament pain is very common in early pregnancy. They are due to the development of the uterus, and are completely normal.

Bowel pain

Pain in the intestines, including abdominal pain, cramps and bloating , can be a sign of digestive disorders such as constipation or diarrhea.

Constipation is very common during pregnancy, affecting one woman in two, and is even more common during the third trimester. At this time, under the effect of hormones and progesterone in particular, transit tends to slow down.

Is it possible to be pregnant and still have period pains?

Period-like pain during pregnancy is the most worrying, as it can be a sign of miscarriage. Spontaneous miscarriages occur in 15-20% of pregnancies, and take place before 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Bear in mind, however, that blood loss is not always a symptom of miscarriage. Some women experience an "anniversary period" in the first month or two of pregnancy, when they should have had their period if they hadn't become pregnant. In this case, you can wear our menstrual pregnancy pants.

If you notice black discharge accompanied by pain, you can contact your doctor to rule out the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

How can I tell the difference between pregnancy pains and contractions?

It can sometimes be difficult for women to differentiate pregnancy pain from contractions, to put a precise word to the different symptoms felt in the lower abdomen.

Ligament pain, i.e. pain linked to the tension of ligaments, can be felt throughout pregnancy. They are created by their tension. Certain periods of pregnancy are more conducive to these symptoms, such as around the 4th, 6th or 8th month.

Contractions are more frequent towards the end of pregnancy. They are not necessarily painful; sometimes, it's just the abdomen that becomes hard for a minute or two, then returns to normal. To check whether it's a contraction, place your hands on your belly: if it's hard, it's definitely a contraction. What's more, contractions can occur at any time, whereas ligament genes tend to occur in the morning, when you wake up as if the muscles are still cold, when you stand for a long time, or when you change position.

If you notice bleeding or fluid loss in addition to your contractions, and if it persists, consult your doctor. In fact, at less than 37 weeks' amenorrhea, it could be premature labor.

What are the risks of intense lower abdominal pain for a pregnant woman?

Although, as explained above, lower abdominal pain is common and often benign during pregnancy, if it is frequent and severe, there may be external causes.

Risk of miscarriage

In the early stages of pregnancy, pain can immediately suggest a miscarriage. There's no need to be alarmed, unless accompanied by other symptoms such as (heavy) bleeding and severe pain that won't go away. Miscarriages most often occur during the first three months of pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancy

Pain occurring 3 to 6 weeks after the onset of pregnancy can also be a sign ofectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is characterized by the development of the egg in the fallopian tube, on an ovary, in the abdominal cavity or on the cervix.

If you experience severe discomfort accompanied by blackish bleeding, seek urgent medical attention. If it's an ectopic pregnancy, it needs to be treated very quickly, perhaps even surgically , to avoid bursting the tube, a major haemorrhage and jeopardizing the fertility and life of the mother-to-be.

How to relieve severe pain in the lower abdomen?

To relieve pain in the lower abdomen, you can :

  • If it's constipation, drink more water and change your diet to include more fiber, which will facilitate intestinal transit;
  • Consult your doctor for suitable therapy, such as physiotherapy, osteopathy, relaxation or other exercises to relieve pelvic tension not directly related to the uterus. He may also prescribe painkillers.

In any case, don't self-medicate. Certain drugs and practices are not recommended during pregnancy.

When should I consult a doctor about pregnancy-related lower abdominal pain?

You should consult your doctor if you are experiencing severe pain in the lower abdomen:

  • Bleeding and discomfort reminiscent of menstruation;
  • Regular recurrence (every 10 minutes, for example);
  • If they are spontaneous and occur frequently (reminiscent of contractions);
  • If they are intense.

It's best to contact your doctor to make sure all is well.

Pregnancy diarrhea FAQ

Is it normal to have diarrhea in early pregnancy?

Diarrhea in early pregnancy can occur in women who change their eating habits to suit their baby's needs.

Can diarrhea be a sign of miscarriage?

Diarrhea is not a symptom of miscarriage. However, it can lead to digestive spasms, which can stimulate the uterus and cause contractions. In the event of persistent diarrhea, it is advisable to consult your referring practitioner.

Is diarrhea dangerous for pregnant women?

In most cases, diarrhea is harmless and nothing to worry about. Natural prevention is enough to avoid the risks. However, if the diarrhoea persists, we advise you to consult a specialist as soon as possible.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.