Even though low belly pain is something most expectant mothers worry about, most of the time it is not a sign of any serious problem. It is usually related to the body making room for the baby to grow, especially when it happens during the first weeks of pregnancy.
However, if the pain is very intense or it comes with other symptoms such as loss of vaginal fluids, fever, chills, and/or headaches, it can indicate serious situations, such as an ectopic pregnancy. Learn other symptoms that may indicate an ectopic pregnancy.
If there are other symptoms, or if a more serious problem is suspected, it is important to seek medical, in order to diagnose the cause and start the appropriate treatment.
Here is a list of the most common causes for low belly pain during pregnancy:
1. Normal pregnancy progression
Low belly pain is a very common symptoms during the first weeks of pregnancy and it happens due to the expansion of the womb and displacement of the abdominal organs, in order to make room for the growing baby. It is, then, common for the expectant mother to feel a slight discomfort or a mild temporary pain in the lower belly.
What to do: as it is considered a normal type of pain, and part of the pregnancy progression, no treatment is needed. It is only recommended to visit your doctor regularly so that your pregnancy can be monitored.
2. Braxton-Hicks contractions
The occurrence of contractions in the second trimester of pregnancy, known as Braxton-Hicks, can also be an important cause of low belly pain. Each contraction is light and lasts a maximum of 60 seconds.
What to do: these contractions are not serious and normally disappear in a short amount of time, so there is no reason to worry. But if you start having very regular Braxton Hicks, it is recommended that you visit the doctor to do exams that will assess the progression of the pregnancy.
3. Ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy can also cause low belly pain. Ectopic pregnancies happen when the embryo implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. In addition to lower belly pain, which can be very intense, there is usually vaginal blood loss, as well as other symptoms such as a swollen abdomen. Learn more about ectopic pregnancy symptoms and what to do.
What to do: If you suspect you have an ectopic pregnancy, it's important you visit your gynecologist who will be able to do an assessment, diagnose your condition and start suitable treatment. This is important because treatment will vary according to the location where the embryo is implanted, and the pregnancy stage.
Usually, the treatment for the ectopic pregnancy is done through medication that will abort the pregnancy, or surgery to remove the embryo and reconstruct the uterine tubes. These treatments are necessary because ectopic pregnancies can be life-threatening for the women who have them.
When lower belly pain is related to a miscarriage, the pain usually happens in the first trimester of pregnancy, it's very intense and it comes with other signs and symptoms, such as fever, loss of liquids through the vagina, bleeding, and constant headache.
What to do: if this happens, it's important for you to go to the hospital so that you can have exams done to check the baby's heartbeat, and then proceed with the most adequate treatment.
When to go to the hospital
It is recommended that you visit a gynecologist if you have:
- Intense or regular lower belly pain;
- Other symptoms such as headache, chills, fever or bleeding.
These symptoms are usually indicative of serious alterations that need to be assessed and treated as soon as possible, to avoid complications for the mother and/or the baby.