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Are Stomach Pains Normal During Pregnancy?

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Updated July 15, 2009

Question: Are Stomach Pains Normal During Pregnancy?

I'm having awful stomach pains. I'm 5 weeks pregnant. Is this a sign of miscarriage? Should I be worried?

Answer:

The answer depends on what you mean by stomach pains. Nausea during pregnancy, even with vomiting (think morning sickness), is normal and usually nothing to be concerned about.

If you mean cramping or pain in the stomach, as in the organ that digests your food, this may be a sign of digestive issues but isn't likely to be a miscarriage symptom. Digestive problems are not unusual during pregnancy, but mention the pains to your doctor and call right away if you have flu-like symptoms (mild fever, muscle aches, headache, etc.) that go beyond your typical morning sickness. Pregnant women are prone to food poisoning and other infections in the GI tract. Some infections can cause complications for the baby even if they aren't especially dangerous for non-pregnant individuals, so it's good to be checked out if you suspect you might be sick.

However, if you are not talking about pain specifically in the stomach but rather general pain in the abdominal region, note that certain types of abdominal pains are associated with miscarriage. If you are having painful cramps in your lower pelvic region or lower back, especially alongside vaginal bleeding, these symptoms could mean miscarriage and you should call your doctor. Cramping can also occur during normal pregnancies, however. So if you have no bleeding and the cramps are not particularly painful, it's probably fine to just mention it to your doctor at the next visit.

If you are having severe pain anywhere in your abdominal region during early pregnancy, go to the emergency room. You need to make sure that ectopic pregnancy is ruled out, as this can be life threatening if not treated.

Finally, for anyone reading this who is in later pregnancy and having abdominal pain, you also need to see a doctor right away to rule out placental abruption and other such complications. Abdominal cramps can also by a sign of preterm labor. In any case, don't delay in seeking treatment. Early treatment of complications can make a big difference. Even if it turns out to be nothing, at least you will know and not have to worry that something is wrong.

Source:

Abdominal Pain or Cramping. March of Dimes. Accessed: July 13, 2009. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/159_15241.asp

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