Don't Stress: Cramping in Early Pregnancy
You finally got your big, fat positive and are celebrating a new pregnancy. It’s an exciting time, but it can also be a nerve-wracking time. There’s so much to worry about, preparing for your little one, watching what you eat and worrying that every little cramp could mean something is wrong. Cramping in early pregnancy is fairly normal, but knowing why it happens can give you peace of mind and turn your nerves into excitement.
You’re growing another human inside of you. This means your body is going through some serious changes, even early in your pregnancy. The cramps might feel like a mild pulling on either side of your abdomen. These cramps are most likely caused by the stretching of the ligaments and muscles that support your expanding uterus. Remember, your uterus grows from the size of an orange to the size of a watermelon throughout your pregnancy, and that growth starts in the first trimester. You might notice these cramps more when you sneeze, cough or move quickly.
Your baby may be the cause of a lot of not-so-fun symptoms, like nausea and tiredness, but he may not even be the cause of those cramps. It could be gas or bloating, constipation or even that quick early-morning session with your partner.
The cramps should go away on their own, but if they don’t, you can do a few things to ease your discomfort. Try sitting or lying down if you’re up and moving around. If you’re already lying down, change positions to see if that helps. Run yourself a warm bath and relax for a bit. Remember, once baby comes, relaxing in a warm tub will be pretty low on your priority list, so take advantage of the extra time now. Wrap a hot water bottle in a towel and put it where you feel the cramps; ensure you’re drinking enough fluids as well.
More Serious Cramping
While cramping is generally mild and not something to worry about, in rare cases it can indicate a more serious problem. Painful cramping could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, which is when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. These cramps are usually sharp, felt lower in the abdomen and often increase in intensity. Sharp cramping can also indicate a miscarriage, but there is generally also some degree of bleeding with a miscarriage. Your doctor needs to address both of these situations. He or she will probably do an exam, an ultrasound and some blood work to diagnose the problem.
Calling the Doctor
You don’t need to call your doctor at every little twinge, but if it will give you peace of mind, there’s no harm in making that call. Call your doctor, though, if you have severe pain that doesn’t go away, pain in the lower abdomen, vaginal cramping, heavier bright-red bleeding or dizziness. With a precious little one growing inside of you, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.