It is remarkable how many first time mothers-to-be show up at the doctor’s bench, very worried about the previous night’s sudden round of strange contractions which are also quite painful.
In many cases these happen at the beginning of the pregnancy at the same time when the lady is used to having her monthly period. Well, these are called pregnancy cramps.
Pregnancy cramps is what some doctors refer to when they say Braxton Hicks. These can often feel similar to a variety of other more familiar pains and contractions. A pregnant woman may experience pains that feel like heartburn or period pains in early pregnancy, but in most cases they manifest themselves as a stomach pain or belly tremble.
According to Dr. Annet, at the Department of Gynecology, St. Francis Hospital, Naggalama, pregnancy cramps can be in more than a few ways;
The first one is the Pre-term labor and this occurs when regular contractions begin to open the cervix before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy should last about 40 weeks. In other words, it’s when the woman’s body starts getting ready for birth too early in her pregnancy.
The second type of cramps is the “false labor”. This bears a resemblance to menstrual cramps.
Right at the beginning of the pregnancy, you might have some mild cramps that are like period pains, either by themselves or along with light vaginal bleeding. This can happen when the egg implants itself into the womb, and it’s likely to occur around the time she would have had her period.
Some cramps happen as the womb changes shape, preparing to accommodate the growing baby. Later, as the uterus begins to grow, the ligaments supporting it will begin to stretch, and this can feel uncomfortable too, either on one or both sides of the body.
The bleeding however is slight.
Besides bleeding, a woman may notice a white, milky discharge from her vagina. That has to do with the thickening of the vagina’s walls, which starts almost immediately after conception. The increased growth of cells lining the vagina causes the discharge.
This discharge, which can continue throughout pregnancy, is normally harmless and doesn’t require treatment. Except when there is a bad smell related to the discharge or a burning and itching sensation; on this, one’s advised to tell the doctors so they can check on whether she has a bacterial infection.
When should one be concerned?
In most cases, a little abdominal pain by itself is nothing to worry about – but still it should always be mentioned to the midwife, especially if the pain seems to be getting worse by the day.
Sometimes cramps and abdominal pains when accompanied by other symptoms – can signify something else is going on and it could be such as the following;
If you experience painful cramps after about the 23rd week but before the 37th, it’s possible you are entering premature labor. The cramps are likely to be accompanied by a pain low down in your pelvis and also in your back. The uterus contracts and the waters may break – if this happens, go straight to your nearest hospital.
The cramps could also be caused by something other than your pregnancy – for example, you could have diarrhea. If you feel sick in any way; if you have a fever, or aches and pains, along with those cramps, get fast to the doctor. And care should be taken, not to become dehydrated at this time.
Unfortunately, this is quite common. It usually occurs simply because the fetus has not developed properly. Symptoms include cramps together with by bleeding and a discharge of fluid or tissue.
However, there’s such a thing as late miscarriage too, which is less common. It happens after the 12th week, before the 23rd.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself in the wrong place, most usually in the fallopian tube. Here, medical attention is required as soon as possible because this pregnancy can never be successful. Symptoms will always surface between fifth week and week 14; cramping, more often on just one side of your body, alongside vaginal bleeding.
Dr. Annet added that sex never causes cramps, however, some women experience cramps anyway when they have an orgasm during sex. All the same, there’s no reason to stop having sex unless advised by a doctor.
How to ease on the strain of the cramps
The doctor advises that taking the recommended dose of Paracetamol/ Pain relievers could help. And expectant mothers should also make good use of a relaxing in a warm bath and doing some gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming.
All women for sure experience these stomach pains in pregnancy, and it’s perfectly normal. However if you don’t feel quite fine, go to a doctor, midwife hospital to get checked!