Cramping during pregnancy is one of the most feared symptoms. And by cramping, I don't mean cramping your pregnancy style. I mean twinges, aches, or what feels like a Charlie horse in your abdomen. Yes, that kind of cramping.
The thing about cramping is that we women perceive it as a bad thing. After all, it tends to accompany another every-28-days visitor that few women enjoy (okay NO woman enjoys it). But, cramping isn't all bad. In fact, it can swing both directions - good and bad.
It's up to us girls to be able to distinguish if it's a "grab a bag of chocolate" moment or a "call the doctor" moment. Add a growing baby or two into the scenario and that thickens the cramping plot much, much more! Ah, pregnancy...
The bottom line is that it's important to know what's what when it comes to cramping during your pregnancy. There are times when cramping is perfectly normal, albeit uncomfortable, but normal. Then there are moments where it's absolutely not okay and you need to contact the doctor.
Today, this post is going to show 10 reasons why cramping is A-okay and 5 reasons (bottom of post) that cramping is 100% NOT okay. Check it out!
15 You Had To Sneeze
During the first trimester, most women don't "show" all that much. But, that's not to say your abdomen or uterus is just chilling out down there. Nope, from the very beginning, your body is changing to accommodate your temporary little inhabitant. These changes include a growing uterus and the stretching of muscles and ligaments to make room for your expanding uterus.
What these cramps will feel like are mostly twinges. They come and go and can ache just a little bit. In fact, you might be able to distinguish them by their appearance when you cough or sneeze. Some big belly laughs can bring on twinge-like cramping, as well. First trimester cramping bearing these characteristics are nothing to get excited over. Mostly, they're just prepping your body for the marathon of pregnancy.
14 Baby Found A Full-Term Home
We've already determined that cramping can really freak some women out. Another symptom often causing panic is bleeding. This point combines the two into a rather harmless, but tricky to detect early pregnancy symptom.
Implantation bleeding is when you shed a few drops of blood when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the walls of your uterus. Think of a spaceship landing on the moon and kicking up dust upon impact. The dust (aka droplets of blood) from the spaceship (aka the fertilized egg) is nothing more than a side effect. Really, it's just a few harmless tiny blood vessels bursting as the "space ship" lands.
Implantation bleeding is often confused for menstrual bleeding, because period-like cramps can happen during implantation. Remember that it typically happens 6-12 days after fertilization. The blood will be light red or pinkish and only a few drops.
13 The Ultimate Expansion
Moving right along to the second trimester - which is usually most women's favorite trimester - there are a few more cramps that could occur. One type of cramping is called round ligament pain. As your baby bump start to get bigger, it stretches out the ligaments that line either side of your uterus. As you can imagine, this stretching doesn't exactly feel like rainbows and kittens.
More than anything, round ligament pain feels like a sharp, sudden, and stabbing pain. Actually, it's almost like a spasm. The sensation might start deep in your pelvis then curve up around your uterus. Lasting only a few seconds, you can usually change positions to make the pain stop. Although annoying and can seem to come out of no where, it's really nothing more than your body stretching out.
12 You Feel Like Going But You Can’t
There are few things in life that are more frustrating than needing to have a bowel movement and not being able to make it happen. As the bearer of less than awesome news, I have to tell you that constipation is a staple symptom during pregnancy. With the raging hormones rushing through your body, (progesterone and relaxin especially) your digestive tract can get all out of whack.
Not only do the hormones slow down your GI tract, but they can also make it incredibly difficult to go number two. There's a good chance that you're familiar with the feeling of constipation so a detailed description isn't necessarily needed. Nevertheless, know this kind of cramping is harmless. Awesome? No. But, it is harmless.
11 The Notorious Fake-Out
The English doctor Mr. John Braxton Hicks probably didn't realize that so many women would be adding expletives before his name when he decided to name the notorious "practice" contractions after himself. Well, Mr. blankety-blank Hicks, we do. We SO do.
Braxton Hicks contractions are real contractions in that your belly does tighten. But, they're also simply known as practice contractions because nothing ever comes of them. In other words, they don't progress to active labor.
Yes, this kind of cramping is normal. It happens throughout your pregnancy, but most women don't start to feel these cramping contractions until the end of the second trimester or later. They don't last over two minutes and subside when you change positions. Annoying little boogers, really.
10 It’s Time And Then It’s Not
As annoying as Braxton Hicks contractions can be, prodromal labor can be even more frustrating...and confusing. This type of cramping or contracting is also called false labor, pre-labor, or latent labor. It's more of a fake-out than even Braxton Hicks contractions are.
The rotten thing about prodromal labor is that the contractions are real (unlike BH contractions), as changing positions doesn't relieve them. But, it's not real labor in that it doesn't dilate your cervix. Most of the time, the contractions start and end at the same time each day. They can start a few weeks or even a few months before delivery. And we all shout a collective "NO!"
The important thing to remember is that if your water hasn't broken or the contractions don't progress, they're harmless.
9 You Lost That Loving Feeling
Whether you feel like a fertility goddess or like the Zeppelin blimp during pregnancy, there's a fairly good chance that you and your partner are still sexually active. And, this is perfectly normal. With the extra blood volume, your lady bits are likely to work on overdrive...in a good way! So, with the doctor's green light, go for it.
One important thing to remember is that sex involves the same bits and pieces that are involved in the growing of your baby. What this means for you is that you can expect a bit of cramping after doing the deed. It's not uncommon for your climax to trigger a little bit of contraction-like cramps. So long as you feel okay otherwise and there's no heavy bleeding, you are in the clear.
8 It’s Time For A Tall Glass Of Water
If you've ever read a health or fitness blog then you've read 100 times over to drink water, drink water, drink water. Pregnancy only increases the amount of water you need to drink. So, what's the magic number? Ten cups per day is your pregnancy diet aim. It might seem like a lot, especially when you have to pee every five seconds already, but the benefits are endless.
For starters, drinking water does the obvious - prevents dehydration. During the first trimester when morning sickness can strike, drinking water can keep you hydrated even when you're having trouble keeping foods down. Should you become dehydrated, that's when you might feel a sort of cramping sensation. It's almost like a tugging or pulling in the area surrounding your pelvic bone. When you experience this cramping feeling, you know it's time to drink more water.
7 There Are Bubbles Brewing
Like constipation, the hormone progesterone is to blame for the increased bloating and gas that you might experience during pregnancy. Progesterone relaxes your intestinal muscles causing food to move through your GI tract much more slowly than usual. What this can mean for you, mama, is that you're tooting and fluffing a lot more than normal.
And, as you know, having gas usually means cramping. This is true whether you're pregnant or not. It's just that any type of cramping can be frightening when you're worrying about another life, too. The bottom line is that cramping from gas can be excruciatingly painful, but it's harmless. In fact, with the help from fiber-rich foods and water, you can decrease the amount of painful gas cramps you experience.
6 That Food Didn’t Settle Well
Like mentioned before, progesterone is no friend to your digestive tract during pregnancy. While it plays a significant role in the development of your baby and aids in the nurturing aspect of pregnancy, it can be the culprit of many uncomfortable symptoms. A couple heavy hitters are indigestion and heartburn.
Although cramps don't occur when you have heartburn, indigestion could easily feel like cramping. More than anything, it feels like the stomach cramps you get when you eat food that doesn't agree with you. Furthermore, indigestion usually shows up later in pregnancy.
In addition to the increased hormones, you're probably dealing with a topsy-turvy tummy. Also, the bigger your baby grows the more pressure you feel on your abdomen. That squished feeling only exacerbates the indigestion you might already be experiencing.
5 Baby Was Only Visiting
When it comes to cramping, the first fear most women face is the fear of having a miscarriage. And rightly so. Experiencing a miscarriage can fill you with intense and complex emotions. After all, you thought your baby was okay and then in the blink of an eye, your baby is just gone.
One of the scariest things is that miscarriages can come in the form of cramping. Bleeding usually follows close behind. It can be really scary, to say the least. If you begin to cramp followed by bleeding then call your doctor immediately.
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before the 20 week mark. More often than not, the pregnancy ends because of a chromosomal abnormality. In other words, there was something wrong with the baby's chromosomes. Usually the real culprit is a damaged egg or sperm and nothing the mother did.
4 The Egg Got Lost Along The Way
As unfortunate as it is, sometimes human bodies just don't do what we want them to do. For instance, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg never makes it past the fallopian tubes. Rather than making the epic journey all the way to the uterus and implanting there, it stops in the fallopian tubes and attempts to grow a baby.
Of course, babies can't develop in fallopian tubes. There's no room or nutrients there. Naturally, the pregnancy ends before ever reaching the uterus. But not before causing the mother a great deal of abdominal pain and cramping. The signs of an ectopic pregnancy are a sharp, stabbing pain, vaginal bleeding, and dizziness or lightheadedness. Should you experience the combination of these symptoms, call your doctor.
3 Protein Becomes A Culprit
Preeclampsia is nearly a household name now. The reason is that many celebrities have opened up about being diagnosed with it. Preeclampsia is a condition that includes protein in the urine, high blood pressure, and extreme swelling (water retention). It puts both baby and mother at risk.
For mother, she is in danger of liver or renal failure, and future cardiovascular issues. For baby, it commonly means a low birth weight because the placenta didn't get enough blood, so baby didn't get sufficient food and oxygen.
The cramping you will experience is typically felt in the upper right abdomen. Should you experience sudden and extreme swelling, shortness of breath, urinating in small amounts, unusual fatigue, and cramping then you need to contact your doctor immediately.
2 The Placenta Roadblock
Although placental abruption usually occurs in the third trimester, it can happen anytime after the 20th week of pregnancy. Only about 1% of pregnant women experience this. Basically, placental abruption is when the placenta separates itself from the lining of the uterus. Although this can only truly be diagnosed after birth when the placenta can be examined, there are many ways doctors can try to make a diagnosis before birth.
Most of the time, placental abruption is going to cause bleeding. Although 20% of all cases don't result in vaginal bleeding. You will likely experience rapid contractions, abdominal pain, and uterine tenderness, as well. Since the placenta is the life source for your baby, any disruption to it and it interrupts the steady flow of nutrients to your baby.
1 You’ve Got An Unexpected Infection
If you know anything about urinary tract infections or UTIs, also known as a bladder infection, then you know just how sneaky they can be. And, you also know that this diagnosis comes with a wide variety of symptoms. Some of these symptoms include pelvic pressure, frequent and painful urination, discharge, a fever, etc.
More than anything, the pelvic pressure feels like an achey pain rather than a sharp sensation. And, women are more at risk of getting them than men. Especially pregnant women between week 6 and week 24. For pregnant women, the changing body is to blame. If a UTI goes untreated it could lead to a kidney infection and then low birth weight because of early labor. Really, it should be avoided at all costs. So, call your doctor if you experience the symptoms.
Sources: www.americanpregnancy.com, www.whattoexpect.com, www.babycenter.com, www.momtricks.com.