Cramps during pregnancy is normal, especially in the beginning of gestation due to the adaptation process the mother's body endures because of the growth of the baby and also at the end of pregnancy, around 37 weeks of gestation, which can evidence the beginning of labor.
However, there are other situations that can cause severe and persistent cramps in pregnancy, and that should be evaluated by the doctor. Also, if colics do not stop after a while or are accompanied by vaginal bleeding, discharge, or fever, it is important to see a gynecologist.
Main causes for cramps during pregnancy
Some situations may cause cramps during pregnancy are:
1. Ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy, occurs when the embryo does not develop in the uterus, but in the uterine tubes, which usually leads to bleeding and abortion.
2. Gestational sac detachment
Is caused by the detachment of the gestational sac before the 20th week of gestation and is characterized by the presence of a hematoma caused by the accumulation of blood between the uterus and the gestational sac. This hematoma may worsen with exertion, and the larger the hematoma, the greater the risk of preterm birth, miscarriage, and placental detachment.
3. Placental abruption
Placental abruption occurs when the placenta is separated from the wall of the uterus as a result of inflammation and abnormal placental blood flow, such as severe physical exertion and high blood pressure or preeclampsia, which causes vaginal bleeding and severe cramping. It is a dangerous situation and requires immediate intervention.
4. Spontaneous abortion
Miscarriage can occur early in pregnancy because of various situations, such as excessive physical activity, use of medications, certain teas, infections, or injuries.
The cramps that appear after the 37 th week of gestation and that gradually get more intense and become more constant can be a sign of labor..
6. Other possible causes
Other possible causes for cramps during pregnancy can be viral infections, food poisoning, appendicitis, or urinary tract infections. It is recommended to see a doctor as soon as you feel pain.
Cramps in the beginning of pregnancy
In early pregnancy, it is normal to experience cramps and usually corresponds to one of the signs of pregnancy. Cramps at the beginning of pregnancy may occur due to the growth of the uterus and to the adaptation of embryo implantation. Urinary or vaginal infections, with discharge, are also responsible for the onset of cramps in early pregnancy. See the 10 first signs of pregnancy.
During pregnancy, the accumulation of gasses in the gut can also cause cramps because of poor digestion of certain foods like beans, broccoli or ice cream. Cramps after sexual intercourse in pregnancy is normal because orgasm also causes uterine contraction.
Cramps at the end of pregnancy
Cramps at the end of pregnancy may mean that labor is approaching. This type of cramps is a result of the baby moving inside the belly or its weight pressing on the muscles, ligaments and veins, causing pain and discomfort. Learn how to identify pregnancy contractions.
How to alleviate
To relieve the cramps it depends on it's cause and medical recommendation. In some cases the obstetrician may prescribe the use of medications such as Buscopan to decrease the pain and discomfort of cramps but other remedies may also be prescribed, depending on what is causing the cramp.
Usually when the woman calms down and relaxes while resting her cramps decrease, but it is important to note how many times a day the cramps arise and in which situations they improve or worsen.
When to go to the doctor
You should go to the doctor whenever the woman presents:
- Cramps that do not give in even with rest;
- Persistent or very painful cramps;
- If there are other symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, fever, chills, vomiting or pain when urinating, at the beginning or the end of pregnancy;
- If you suspect that you are in labor.
At the doctor's appointment you should tell all the symptoms you feel so that the doctor can identify what is causing the cramp and then perform the necessary procedure.