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Cramping in Early Pregnancy -- Is It a Sign of Miscarriage?


Updated June 13, 2014

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Question: Cramping in Early Pregnancy -- Is It a Sign of Miscarriage?

Having cramps in your lower abdominal area or lower back in early pregnancy is not necessarily a symptom of miscarriage. In fact, cramping without bleeding is usually not a sign of miscarriage. Cramps or brief pains in your lower abdomen can happen early in a normal pregnancy as your uterus adjusts to the implanted baby.

Even later on in pregnancy, you may experience shooting pains in the lower abdomen or around your hips due to a phenomenon called round ligament pain, which occurs as your body accommodates your growing uterus. But if cramps are occurring in regular intervals in the second or third trimester, it's important that you know the signs of preterm labor so that you call your doctor if you are concerned.

There are times, however, when cramping can indeed be a sign of miscarriage -- when the cramping is accompanied by spotting or other vaginal bleeding. You should call your doctor for advice and possibly to schedule some testing to determine whether you are having a miscarriage.

Talk to your doctor whenever you are concerned about any level of cramping during pregnancy. If you are feeling faint and/or if your abdominal cramping is severe, your cramping may be a symptom of ectopic pregnancy. Go to the emergency room to be evaluated.


March of Dimes, "Abdominal Pain or Cramping." Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center 2008. Accessed 22 Jan 2008.

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