Pregnancy is a time of radical body change and transformation.
After all, you’re growing a tiny human, so it’s little wonder!
Whether it’s your first pregnancy or your fifth, each pregnancy is a unique experience that leaves many pregnant mamas with questions.
What sensations should you expect? When should you be concerned?
A common sensation during pregnancy is cramping. Cramping is a sensation of muscles contracting. It can be achy, slightly painful, pressure or just plain uncomfortable. Here’s what you need to know about cramps during pregnancy for your peace of mind and wellbeing:
Is It Normal To Get Cramps During Pregnancy?
Many women experience menstrual cramps during their cycle. When we feel the same sensation during pregnancy it can be concerning. While cramps occasionally are cause for concern, most of the time they are just a normal part of pregnancy.
What Causes Cramping During Pregnancy?
Cramping during pregnancy can be caused by a few different things. Just before you expect your period you might experience cramping due to implantation. Some women experience and notice this, while others do not.
The most common cause of cramping is simply the uterus expanding. While baby remains quite tiny in the early weeks, your uterus is already beginning to change. There's an increase in blood flow and fluid in the uterus before baby is a noticeable size.
Constipation, gas and other gastric upset during pregnancy can cause cramping sensations.
Another reason for a cramping sensation is round ligament pain. Your uterus isn't the only thing impacted by growth and hormones. The hormones during pregnancy can cause your muscles and joints to relax. Round ligament pain can be very uncomfortable and even very painful for some. The round ligaments surround your uterus so as it grows, they can become strained.
When Should I Be Concerned?
More often than not, cramping during pregnancy is just a part of the process. It's rarely a cause for concern. When cramping isn't mild or is accompanied by other symptoms you should reach out to your midwife or doctor.
If you experience any severe or localized pain, especially early in pregnancy, it's important to contact your provider immediately. While cramping is rarely cause for concern, severe pain should be evaluated.
If you have cramping sensations accompanied by blood, painful urination or unusual vaginal discharge you should contact your provider. Urinary tract infections and yeast infections aren't uncommon during pregnancy. Our pH balance can change during pregnancy and can make us more susceptible to infections. For some women, steady cramping is their first symptom of a UTI. Your midwife or doctor can use a simple urine sample and vaginal swab to detect any infection.
If there is any spotting or bleeding associated with the cramping you should contact your provider. While mild cramping and spotting can be normal pregnancy ailments, it is still a good idea to see your provider to rule out any possible complications.
If you are further along in your pregnancy and your cramping sensation feels patterned, it is a good idea to contact your provider and be evaluated for signs of preterm labour.
What Can I Do For Discomfort?
For most women, cramping in pregnancy is slightly uncomfortable but doesn't require pain relief. If you are experiencing discomfort, and your midwife or doctor isn't concerned about underlying issues, there are somethings you can do to help.
If you notice an increase in cramping with activity, try to listen to your body. You might need to rest a bit more than you did before your pregnancy.
Be sure you are well hydrated. If you're experiencing morning sickness it can be hard to stay hydrated, but good hydration can help alleviate some muscle cramping. The increase in blood volume can make it more difficult to stay hydrated, you will likely need to drink more now than prior to your pregnancy.
Take time for a relaxing bath or shower. Warmth can sooth achy and cramping muscles.
Cramping during pregnancy is rarely a concern. It is helpful to be sure you have a care provider you trust, so you are able to address any concerns that you do have. Trust your intuition if you think something might be out of the ordinary. Do remember that your body is going through a lot of changes, some discomfort can be very normal.