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Is it normal to have a hard stomach during pregnancy?

During the early stages of pregnancy, around 7 or 8 weeks, the growth of the uterus and the development of the baby, turn the the belly harder. At this stage, it is normal for you to notice that the underside of the navel, also popularly known as the "foot of the belly," is more swollen and harder than before becoming pregnant.

As the belly grows, it becomes rounder and harder in the lower part of the belly button and then becomes harder around the navel, and by the 5th month of gestation, the belly becomes more rounded leaving no room for doubt that you are pregnant.

Is it normal to have a hard stomach during pregnancy?

Hard abdomen after 20 weeks of gestation

The belly that stays momentarily hard after 20 weeks of gestation represents training contractions, scientifically called Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions can occur several times a day and usually do not cause any pain or discomfort, and therefore not all pregnant women notice them.

It is easier to observe this momentary hardening of the belly at night when you are more rested, it is not necessary to do anything  because these contractions are normal and expected. However, if you feel disturbed, you can take a deep breath and try to calm down, because the training contractions may decrease. 

If you have many hard belly episodes a day before 37 weeks of gestation, and if there is dilation, your doctor may recommend using a magnesium supplement to decrease contractility of the uterus. However, this medicine should only be taken under medical guidance and should be discontinued at 36 weeks' of gestation so that there are no complications during labor.

When to go to the doctor

It is advised to go to the doctor when:

  • You have several episodes of hard belly a day, which means you have more than 2 contractions an hour;
  • You feel a lot of pain when you notice a contraction;
  • You are at the end of your pregnancy;
  • Suspect the onset of labor;
  • You have a fever;
  • You have blood loss through the vagina;
  • You feeling a decrease in baby's movements.

In any case, whenever you suspect that something is wrong, she should contact your obstetrician to clarify your doubts, and if you can not talk to him, you should go to an emergency room or to the maternity ward.

Bibliography >

  • OFFICE ON WOMEN'S HEALTH. Body changes and discomforts. Available on: <https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/body-changes-and-discomforts>. Access in 12 Feb 2020
  • AMERICAN PREGNANCY ASSOCIATION. Braxton Hicks Contractions. Available on: <https://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/braxton-hicks/>. Access in 12 Feb 2020
  • AMERICAN PREGNANCY ASSOCIATION. Miscarriage. Available on: <https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/miscarriage/>. Access in 12 Feb 2020
  • AMERICAN PREGNANCY ASSOCIATION. Round Ligament Pain. Available on: <https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/round-ligament-pain-during-pregnancy/>. Access in 12 Feb 2020
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