Contractions and tightness in the lower abdomen are recurrent complaints during pregnancy. But at what point should s'worry? And how can you tell? We explain.
Why does a pregnant woman feel pain in her lower abdomen?
During pregnancyDuring pregnancy, it's common to experience various types of pain in the lower abdomen. Although they can be very distressing, they are quite common.
Throughout pregnancy, various symptoms may appear in different areas of the body.
- Some will have lower back pain;
- Some will have sensitive breasts that hurt at the slightest touch;
- Some are prone to heavy legs (due to slower blood circulation);
- And finally, some may be prone to pregnancy-related sciatica.
The most worrying pain for women remains that related to the foetus and the way it is growing.
Early pregnancy: the 1st trimester
During the first trimester, pain in the lower abdomen is often stressful for women. In fact, they may suggest a miscarriage.
Mid-pregnancy: the 2nd trimester
With hormones, the ligaments will 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 return. 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 softening post-delivery ligament and muscle tissues, increases.
This is what lis known as Lacomme syndrome.
How to recognize the different causes of pregnancy tummy aches?
They can arise from 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.
In fact, 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 can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or a twisted ovary.
Ligament pain is very common in early pregnancy. They are due to the development of the uterus, and are completely normal.
Pain in the gut l
Constipation is very common during pregnancy, affecting one in two women, and is even more common during the third trimester. During this period, under the influence of hormones land progesterone in particular, transit tends to slow down.
Is it possible to be pregnant and still have pain from periods ?
Pain similar to that of periods 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. There are also "periods anniversaries", which some women experience in the first month or two when periods should have occurred if they had not become pregnant.
If you notice black discharge accompanied by pain, contact your doctor to rule out the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
How can you tell the difference between pregnancy pains and contractions?
It can sometimes be difficult for women to tell the difference between pregnancy pain and contractions, and to put a precise word to the various symptoms felt in the lower abdomen l.
Ligament genes, i.e. tension in the ligaments, can be felt throughout pregnancy. They are created by their tension. Certain periods of pregnancy are more prone to these symptoms, such as around the 4th, 6th or 8th month.
Contractions are more frequent towards the end of pregnancy. They're 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 discomfort tends 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 they persist, consult your doctor. In fact, at less than 37 weeks' amenorrhea, it could sbe 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 significant, external causes may be at the root of it.
Risk of miscarriage
In the early stages of pregnancy, pain can immediately suggest miscarriage. There's no need to s'alarm, except s'when 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.
Pain occurring 3 to 6 weeks after the onset of pregnancy may also be a sign of ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is characterized by the development of an 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. SIf 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 can I relieve severe lower abdominal pain?
To relieve pain in the lower abdomen, you can :
- SIf you're suffering from 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?
It is necessary to consult your doctor when they are strong and accompanied by :
- Bleeding and discomfort reminiscent of periods;
- Regular repetition (e.g. every 10 minutes);
- If they are spontaneous and occur frequently (this can make you think of contractions);
- If they are intense.
It's best to contact your doctor to smake sure everything's okay.
Pregnancy diarrhea FAQs
Is it normal to have diarrhea in early pregnancy?
Early pregnancy diarrhoea can occur in women who change their dietary habits to better meet the needs of l.
Can diarrhea be a sign of miscarriage?
Diarrhea is not symptomatic of miscarriage. However, it can lead to digestive spasms, which can stimulate lthe uterus and cause contractions. In the event of persistent diarrhoea, it is advisable to consult your referring practitioner.
Is diarrhea dangerous for pregnant women?
In most cases, diarrhea is not dangerous, and there's no need to s'worry. Natural prevention is enough to avoid the risks. However, if diarrhoea persists s'for a long time, we advise you to consult a specialist as soon as possible.