Cramping During Pregnancy – What Does It Mean?

We women associate cramping with the monthly period or perhaps the very end of the pregnancy when labor cramps start.

Cramping during pregnancy however may be another matter and is likely to cause consternation, even alarm for a lot of expecting mothers.

Some women report early pregnancy cramping, often it is something as simple as the ligaments of the uterus preparing for the baby by stretching.

When the implantation of the embryo occurs this can also cause some amount of cramping. This is normal.

Sometimes the cramping could be caused by something as innocuous as gas or constipation.

As long as the cramping is not severe and it is not experienced along with other symptoms, this is not to be worried about. If, however, the cramping of early pregnancy is accompanied by the following, it could be a sign of problems:

  • If the cramping is severe or very painful
  • If it is accompanied by bleeding
  • If it is accompanied by other discharge
  • If you experience fever, chills or other discomfort
  • If there is a feeling of lightheadedness or faintness

When cramping in early pregnancy is accompanied by one of more of the above symptoms, it could be caused by a number of worrisome problems such as infection, an ectopic pregnancy or even a miscarriage.

It could also be caused by non pregnancy related issues such as a urinary tract infection, a kidney infection, appendicitis, or pre-eclampsia. In all these cases, immediate medical attention is a must.

In normal circumstances, early pregnancy cramping should cease by the 6th week of pregnancy or so, but this time implantation should be complete.

However, it is not uncommon to feel mild cramping for reasons other than implantation, which are called round ligament pain, even later on in the pregnancy.

This may happen from time to time as the uterus stretches and then stretches some more and then yet some more to accommodate a growing baby.

There is another kind of cramping of later pregnancy which starts about the third trimester. This is known as the Braxton Hicks contraction.

These are practice contractions that come and go during the third trimester, which is the body’s way of preparing for the delivery. Actually these start of in early pregnancy but most women don’t feel them until the third trimester.

They are usually infrequent, irregular and reasonably mild. More severe or regular contractions could be the sign of preterm labor and should be reported to the doctor.

Other pregnancy cramping could be that experienced in the legs which many women experience and which can be fairly painful. This has to do with the fact that the body’s blood circulatory system has to work overtime to provide nourishment to the baby.

The legs may be coping with the extra work that the body has to do as well and may therefore cramp. Leg cramps are more common during the second and third trimesters. Mineral imbalance could also be causing leg cramping in pregnancy.


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