Is it Normal to Have Cramps During Pregnancy?

In a woman’s life, pregnancy is by far the most magical and painful phase at the same time. But is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy, read on to know!

Becoming a mother completes a woman and makes her enjoy the feeling of motherhood, but it comes with many changes and aches that a woman has to cross to bring a new life to this world.

During this substantial phase, their bodies undergo various changes to nurture the baby, but they are problematic and painful. These changes range from back arching to tender breasts. But is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy? Read on to find out, Mama!

Is it Normal to Have Cramps During Pregnancy?

Nausea During Pregnancy
Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash

A pregnant woman’s body makes room for a little life or maybe two. While some changes feel good, on the other hand, some might be painful for them. But pregnancy cramping is a topic of worry for young mothers. These cramps during pregnancy are normal sometimes, as they may result from expanding body.

However, frequent pregnancy cramps1 might be dangerous for the baby. But is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy?

They say that feeling abdominal pain in early pregnancy might be natural due to the growing baby inside the womb. As the uterus grows, the body and the belly grow. Hence in early pregnancy, young mothers might feel tightening in the lower abdomen and back.

However, in the third trimester2, there might be the feeling of stretching because of round ligament pain, a uterus-supporting muscle. The stretching of this muscle can cause cramping.

Pregnancy Symptoms:

  • Nausea or Vomiting:

    The most common symptom of pregnancy noticed is nausea


    , which can be with or without vomiting. Some women experience it in the early months, and some never experience it.

  • Dizziness and Fatigue:

    A rapid rise in the level of the pregnancy hormone, progesterone


    induces more sleep in pregnant women during the initial stage of the pregnancy.

  • Missing menstrual cycle:

    The classic symptom of conception is missed menstruation


    . This is the first symptom a woman notices when she expects to conceive. As a woman conceives, her body begins to secrete an increased amount of progesterone which leads to the absence of menstruation for the entire pregnancy.

  • Tender or Swollen Breasts:

    The release of pregnancy hormones makes the breasts swollen, sore, and sensitive. However, it tends to decrease as the body adjusts to the changes in the later months.

  • Increased Urination:

    During pregnancy, the blood amount in the body increases, leading to more filtration in the kidneys. Hence, you might feel you are using the washroom more than usual.

  • Food Aversions:

    When a woman is pregnant, her taste changes, generally called cravings. They feel like eating several things, and their food preferences might change.

  • Nasal Congestion:

    An increase in the level of hormones can cause nasal mucus membranes to swell, bleed, and dry. Your nose can become stuffy and runny.

  • Light Spotting:

    Light spotting is also called implantation bleeding


    . It happens when the fertilized egg gets implanted in the uterine wall, but not all women experience light spotting. Usually, it occurs around your date of expectation.

    The symptoms mentioned above might be the symptoms indicating pregnancy. But these can be because of other Gastric conditions. HCG (Human Chronic Gonadotrophin) in urine confirms that a couple is expecting.

During pregnancy, a tissue called the placenta gets develops inside the mother. The placenta nurtures the fetus till its birth. It is the placenta that secrets HCG. The presence of HCG detected in urine confirms that a couple is pregnant.

Pregnancy Timeline:

After sexual intercourse, the male sperm fertilizes the female eggs in the fallopian tube, forming a zygote. The zygote moves towards the uterus lining and implants there, making a woman pregnant. This procedure takes at least 15 days.

Sometimes the zygote gets implanted on the outer linings of the uterus resulting in ectopic pregnancies and cramps during pregnancy which is complicated and fatal for both mother and the fetus.

The period of 9 months of pregnancy is called the gestation period in scientific terms. This gestation period lasts for about 9 months or 280 days. This gestation period is divided into 3 trimesters of 3 months each, first, second, and third trimester.

All the vital organs and the fetus undergoes development during the first trimester. During ultra scanning or sonography, the fetus’ heartbeat can be heard.

During the third trimester, the uterus practices contractions by giving false alarms. Sometimes the cramping is considered labour pain. But you must consult the gynecologist if you feel something is wrong regarding cramps during pregnancy.

In most cases, conception, pregnancy, and delivery pass easily, but for some women, these processes can be painful and complicated. At this time, the couple and the family have to take extra care of the would-be mother.

Causes of Early Pregnancy Cramps:

Now that you know if is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy, let’s delve deeper. Causes include:

  • Bloating or Constipation
  • Exercise
  • Sex
  • Contractions
  • Implantation Bleeding
  • Braxton Hicks Contractions

Reasons for Cramping During Pregnancy:

Although light bleeding, cramping in early pregnancy, and dull backaches are completely normal, Is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy? They can be serious in a few cases, as listed below:

1. Ectopic Pregnancy:

There is an unusual condition when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus instead of the inner uterine wall. In this condition, it is normal to experience severe cramping.

This condition is very painful and complicated. The doctors usually advise aborting the baby. But some mothers do not opt for that. Continuing this pregnancy may be fatal for both the baby and the mother.

2. Preeclampsia:

When young mothers have sudden high blood pressure and protein in their urine, a sharp pain sensation runs inside the body’s nerves.

3. Placental Abruption:

The placenta is a tissue that provides nutrition to the growing fetus inside the mother’s womb.

Sometimes, the placenta gets detached from the fetus before birth. The detachment of the placenta causes a life-threatening condition that involves cramping, accompanied by severe pain that does not fade away.

In such a condition, the doctor must immediately attend to the mother and the baby to save their lives.

4. Miscarriage:

Vaginal bleeding accompanied by severe pain might be a symptom of miscarriage. However, it is not valid in all cases.

In some cases, despite having these symptoms, many women lead a healthy pregnancy. But it is necessary to consult the doctor to avoid early pregnancy loss.

5. Urinary Tract Infection:

Lower abdominal cramps during pregnancy and a painful discharge of urine might indicate Urinary Tract Infection. However, to avoid any mishappening, immediate medical attention is needed.

6. Preterm Labor:

Increased pelvic pressure, vaginal discharge, and mild cramps might indicate preterm labour. In this condition, the cervix dilates 37 weeks earlier than the final pregnancy week.

Early Pregnancy:

During the first trimester of pregnancy, young mothers are scared about their health, their baby, and all the sudden changes their bodies undergo. But it is normal.

As the pregnancy progresses, they learn to deal with pregnancy pains. Is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy?

There are feelings of pain, stretching, and cramping even before a woman learns about her pregnancy. Sometimes, early pregnancy cramps feel like they are dangerous, but it is completely normal.

All mothers go through this phase in their lives, the mild cramping during pregnancy feels like menstrual cramps. The uterine muscles tend to expand to accommodate the growing size of the fetus.

During early pregnancy, the women undergo sudden weight gain, hormonal imbalance, morning sickness, mood swings, severe headaches, shoulder pain, one or both sides cramping, and a pulling sensation in the lower abdomen and back.

Sometimes in early pregnancy, there might be normal vaginal bleeding, but heavy bleeding might cause worry and needs immediate attention.

The chances of miscarriages are quite high during the initial stages of early pregnancies. Therefore, there is a need for extra care. Once the first trimester ends and the mothers enter the second trimester, they learn how to handle the pain and cramps.

Although the face of a would-be mother glows during pregnancy, she may experience itching, swelling, hair fall, sleeping disorders, body hair growth, and much more. This is all because of hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Cramps

Pregnancy cramps are normal, but sometimes this normal cramping might indicate a serious condition like urinary tract infections, ectopic pregnancies, preeclampsia, miscarriage, and preterm labour.

The pregnancy cramps feel like period cramps that are painful and make the mother uncomfortable.

Pregnancy cramps are normal, but when the pain becomes severe and does not go away, the pregnant people must immediately consult the family physicians or an expert to know the cause for the same to avoid any unforeseen misfortune.

However, one-sided cramping in ectopic pregnancy is normal. These cramps might last from a few minutes to a few hours and could be intermittent.

Pregnant Women Exercising
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Pregnancy Cramps During the Second Trimester:

There are zero to no chances of undergoing cramps during the second trimester. However, pregnant women can experience trouble in case of certain complications at that stage. Such complications are as follows:

1. Round Ligament Pain:

As the fetus starts developing and growing during the 2nd trimester, it causes the uterus muscles to stretch further, which can result in pain and some discomfort. It might occur during exercise, suddenly getting out of bed, coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc.

However, these cramps during pregnancy might get diluted after taking rest for a few minutes.

2. Braxton Hicks Contractions:

These contractions might begin during the 20th week of pregnancy. The woman’s body prepares for real labour when the cramps are sudden and last for a few minutes, these can fade away after taking rest for some time.

Third-trimester Cramping During Pregnancy:

In the second trimester, there are chances of very few instances of experiencing cramping or, specifically, one-sided cramping. But the mothers carrying more than one child in their womb experience cramping in the second trimester as carrying two or more fetuses is difficult.

The body undergoes drastic changes making a woman feel tired. However, there is another level of glow on the faces of would-be mothers.

Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy:

Abdominal pain is the most common problem faced by would-be mothers. Shock, muscle stretching, sudden weight gain, and so on are the serious causes of abdominal pain during gestation.

This suffering might be an indication of ectopic pregnancy.

How to Deal with Cramps During Pregnancy?

It is normal in pregnancy to experience cramps and dull aches, but sometimes, it might be a serious concern. Is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy?

However, one can get relief with the following steps:

  • Lie down slowly and try to switch positions
  • Take warm shower
  • Do some relaxing exercises for controlled breathing
  • Sometimes cramping may be because of dehydration, hence drink plenty of water
  • Take hot water therapy at the aching body part
  • One can wear a belly band to dilute the pain from cramps during pregnancy.

Changes that the Body Experiences During Pregnancy

In early pregnancy, on normal days, for a woman, it is okay to feel that her body is undergoing many changes. Sometimes these changes are normal but could be a reason for serious concern.

However, here are the changes that a woman’s body feels during the gestation period, i.e., pregnancy:

  • A sudden increase in weight
  • Early pregnancy cramps
  • Swelling, Nausea, Vomiting
  • Morning sickness during the first trimester
  • False contractions during the third trimester
  • Unusual bowel movement
  • Fatigue
  • Cravings
  • Mood Swings

When do you Need to Worry about Cramping During Pregnancy?

Is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy? Yes, it is normal to have cramps during pregnancy. But there are some instances when pregnant people should immediately consult the doctor:

  • Cramps during pregnancy accompanied by shoulder and neck pain
  • Vaginal cramping during pregnancy
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Lower abdominal pain along with contractions
  • A torturing sensation that does not fade away
  • Sudden headache with change in vision
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Experiencing cramping more than four times within an hour, especially during 7th month
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Chills and fever
  • A sudden feeling of dizziness or dehydration

It is speculated that it is perfectly normal to experience cramping during pregnancy, but the pregnant woman must consult the doctor if it happens frequently and abnormally. Is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy?

Getting pregnant is a natural process after sexual intercourse, but for some couples, it is not easy to conceive through the natural process.

In this situation, there are some alternative methods where a couple can experience the feeling of parenthood.

  • In Vitro Fertiliztion
  • Artificial Insemination
  • Intra Uterine Insemination
  • Surrogacy

Efforts Made to Ease the Pregnancy Challenges:

The Stanford Children’s Health Center has been continuously researching to solve pregnant women’s and children’s health challenges. Their research aims to bridge the gap between cures and discoveries that can save lives.

During pregnancy, the women have cramps and other sufferings, which they endure with a smiling face.


So, is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy? What do you think?

A woman endures all the sufferings with a smiling face because she knows that holding her child in her arms for the first time will fade away all her sufferings.

Women go through a lot during pregnancy, and the most common worry is cramps. Hence, be cautious as you are carrying a child in your womb.

Also, don’t forget to smile and cherish this journey each step of the way!

Refer to more about pregnancy:

What to do after a positive pregnancy test (101 Guide)

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  2. Thomas, Priya, et al. “Vertical transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the third trimester: a systematic scoping review.” The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine 35.12 (2022): 2387-2394. ↩︎
  3. Gupta, Kush, Rebecca Walton, and S. P. Kataria. “Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: pathogenesis, recommendations, and new trends.” Cancer treatment and research communications 26 (2021): 100278. ↩︎
  4. Trabert, Britton, et al. “Progesterone and breast cancer.” Endocrine reviews 41.2 (2020): 320-344. ↩︎
  5. Johnston-Robledo, Ingrid, and Joan C. Chrisler. “The menstrual mark: Menstruation as social stigma.” The Palgrave handbook of critical menstruation studies (2020): 181-199. ↩︎
  6. Urban, Philip, et al. “Assessing the risks of bleeding vs thrombotic events in patients at high bleeding risk after coronary stent implantation: the ARC–high bleeding risk trade-off model.” JAMA cardiology 6.4 (2021): 410-419. ↩︎

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Prachi Sharma

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