Pregnancy can bring a lot of unexpected changes to the body. Cramping during pregnancy is one of these shocking changes. Many expectant mothers become concerned when they experience cramping, because it’s not something they’ve ever experienced before. There are many hormonal changes that take place when a woman becomes pregnant. A shifting in body posture and structure also take place. All of these changes put strain on the body in different ways, producing cramping sensations. Mild cramping is not at all abnormal during pregnancy. However, in some cases, it can be a sign that something may be wrong.
Causes of Cramping While Pregnant
Depending on the underlying cause, cramping can range from mild to severe. Below is a list of some of the main causes behind pregnancy cramping:
• Stretching Uterus – When the fetus expands, the ligaments, muscles, and organs surrounding the uterus are forced to expand with it — this puts a lot of pressure on the area. This can cause cramping near the lower region of the back and on both sides of the abdomen. A stretching uterus can especially be felt when shifting positions.
• Implantation – Implantation can cause stomach cramps felt in the first or second week of pregnancy. This is very similar to menstrual cramping. This will usually go away by the time there is a positive pregnancy test result.
• Pregnancy Complications – If cramping is accompanied by bleeding and spotting, this can be an indication that something is wrong. Constant or heavy bleeding can be a sign that a woman is about to miscarry. Minor spotting can also be a sign of miscarriage. Ectopic pregnancy, a very serious complication, is a condition that also causes cramping. With an ectopic pregnancy, the cramping is accompanied by sharp abdominal pains felt on one side. Bleeding and spotting may also occur with an ectopic pregnancy, but this is not always the case.
• Other Normal Causes – Women who experience issues with gas and constipation can experience related cramping towards the beginning of the pregnancy. When in the third trimester of pregnancy, as the uterus muscles begin to prepare for labor, they contract the uterus. These contractions can lead to stomach cramps that last for a minute or two. As the due date approaches, the frequency and intensity of these contractions and cramps will increase.
Remedies for Cramping While Pregnant
If the cramping is not accompanied by other symptoms, there are measures that can be taken at home to get relief from it. You can start off by changing body positions slowly. Apply a hot water bottle to the stomach and lower back region to alleviate minor ligament cramping. Mild exercises and walking can help rid cramps associated with gas. These exercises should only be done after first consulting with a doctor. Avoid standing or sitting in one position for extended periods of time. If you frequently get leg cramps at night, take a warm bath before bed to help relax the muscles. If the cramps are severe or persist for long periods of time, consult with a doctor. The doctor may prescribe you a vitamin or magnesium supplement. Lastly, be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.