Pregnancy cramping in early pregnancy is common, and often nothing to worry about. However, due to the risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, if you have cramping combined with spotting during early pregnancy, you should contact your care provider to get pregnancy advice.
The big reason for cramping during early pregnancy is due to uterine expansion and perhaps ligament pain, also referred to as round ligament pain. The round ligament is one of several ligaments that support your uterus and keep it in place as it expands in your body. Most of the time, this pain occurs in the second trimester as your uterus grows, though there have been some reports of it in early pregnancy. For more information about having a healthy pregnancy, you can check out Baby Bump Fitness to learn how to stay active and healthy during your pregnancy. If you have other pregnancy questions, please see the links provided at the end of this article.
The uterus may also cramp in early pregnancy because it is a muscle that can stretch and move, and it must expand during pregnancy to make room for the baby. The cramping in early pregnancy should be similar to light/medium menstrual cramps. If you are experiencing strong cramping, you should contact your care provider.
In addition, some women experience light cramping as their fertilized egg implants into the uterus--a process called implantation. Often women do not realize they are pregnant when this occurs. Another reason for cramping may be an ovarian cyst.
The following pregnancy information may help you deal with a cramping pain in early pregnancy.
- Heat. Heat works great for dealing with ligament pain and cramping. You can try an electric heating pad or a disposable heating pad such as a ThermaCare. If you decide to do this, be careful you don't get too hot.
- Water. A warm bath (not hot) may relieve cramping. It may take some of the weight off your ligaments and the heat may relax your muscles and ligaments.
- Take a Tylenol. This should be your last resort, but a little bit of Tylenol is safe during pregnancy and will probably take care of the cramping. Most experts agree that a little bit of Tylenol is safe (more has possibly been linked with birth defects), though you may want to talk to your care provider before taking a Tylenol. You should never take aspirin or aspirin products (Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin) in pregnancy since they have been linked with birth defects and severe bleeding during delivery.
- Increase your fiber and water intake. Some women are constipated in early pregnancy, which may cause stomach pains. If you feel you're constipated, start with changing your diet. In addition, many care providers say that Maalox and Mylanta are fine in pregnancy, though you should double-check with your care provider first.
- Take care of yourself. If you're tired, hungry or stressed, a minor pain may seem worse. Make sure you're getting plenty of rest and eating well. If you're having a stress level problem, consider changing your work schedule, asking for help from friends and family, meditation or yoga.
- Abstain from sex. Some care providers recommend abstaining from sex if you have cramping. Not because combining sex and cramping will cause any problems, but because sex can cause a little bit of spotting. While spotting due to sex is nothing to worry about, the combination of the two symptoms may confuse you and make you think you're having a miscarriage.