Pain in the lower abdomen when you are pregnant is not only annoying but sometimes also disturbing. It is often unknown where the pain comes from. This can have various causes, such as a miscarriage, rumbling intestines or a bladder infection. It is often important to first determine the cause and then decide whether to proceed with treatment or wait until the complaints subside naturally. How do you recognize the different forms of lower abdominal pain?
Pain in the lower abdomen during pregnancy
Abdominal pain is common during pregnancy. There is a difference between mild abdominal pain or really severe abdominal cramps. The location is also important: the lower abdomen is not the upper abdomen. The abdomen contains the bladder, intestines and appendages, kidneys, ovaries/fallopian tubes and the uterus. Later in pregnancy, the uterus grows towards the upper abdomen. Pain in the lower abdomen is therefore always related to one of these organs. This often has to do with pregnancy, but this does not always have to be the case.
Cause: miscarriage or premature birth
Many pregnant women think of a miscarriage when they experience pain in the lower abdomen. This is logical, because 1 in 10 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage between 4 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. A miscarriage is often announced by blood loss, pink discharge or brown discharge. It starts with a little blood loss but becomes more and more severe as the hours or days pass. The abdominal cramps that accompany a miscarriage are inevitable. The uterine wall contracts more and more violently to expel the dead baby, placenta and uterine lining. A miscarriage can often be diagnosed by a doctor or midwife. After a miscarriage, bleeding may continue for a few days, but it should quickly reduce to a normal menstrual period.
A birth is announced by loss of the mucus plug, loss of amniotic fluid (rupture of the membranes) or by abdominal cramps. These cramps initially resemble menstrual cramps, but over time they become more intense and last longer. They are also increasing in frequency: they occur one after the other more often. When contractions follow each other within five minutes and last longer than 1 minute, it is time to call the midwife or doctor. Calling in between is allowed, but only do this if you are really worried. Unfortunately, midwives often have to visit women, although in retrospect this was not necessary.
Implantation can cause mild abdominal pain
After fertilization of the egg, it will implant. This happens a few days after fertilization. This implantation can be felt as a mild abdominal pain or cramp. Sometimes this is also accompanied by blood loss. The blood loss is little: always less than a normal menstruation.
Endometriosis in pregnant women
In endometriosis, the uterine lining is found outside the uterus. The uterine lining is subject to changes during the cycle, and the lining of the uterus outside the uterus changes just as much. This causes pain complaints. There is a greater chance of miscarriage during pregnancy. The chance of a stillbirth is also greater due to a premature birth. Pain complaints are often temporarily reduced during pregnancy, but return in full force after delivery.
A fibroid is a benign growth of muscle tissue. When a pedunculated fibroid becomes pinched, it can cause severe pain in the lower abdomen. A fibroid cannot be removed during pregnancy. However, the growth of the fibroid is closely monitored. There is a greater risk of major bleeding during childbirth. For this reason, women with large fibroids must always give birth in the hospital.
Cystitis, bladder stones and kidney stones
Women are more likely to develop a bladder infection than men, but this risk is even higher during pregnancy. A bladder infection can be recognized by pain when urinating, a burning sensation, pain in the lower back, pain in the lower abdomen and small amounts of urination. A bladder infection can be treated with a course of antibiotics. Kidney stones are a build-up of minerals that have become calcified (petrified). This causes colicky abdominal pain, pain when urinating and blood in the urine. Bladder stones are kidney stones that have become loose and lodged in the bladder. They cause the same symptoms as kidney stones.
Pain in the intestines
During pregnancy, many women suffer from rumbling bowels: restless bowels and frequent need to go to the toilet. This also includes abdominal pain. On the one hand, this is caused by the hormones to which the intestines respond. On the other hand, many women are a bit tense, especially during the first three months of pregnancy and towards childbirth. This can cause abdominal pain. When the tension and stress disappear, the complaints also decrease.
A common cause of abdominal pain is ligament pain. The uterus hangs freely in the abdominal cavity on straps. These ligaments stretch as the uterus grows. This causes a pain called ligament pain. The pain is felt on the sides of the abdomen but can radiate to the front or back. Pain in the pubic bones may also be felt. Ligament pain can occur very early in pregnancy and is especially aggravated by bending, lifting, sneezing and coughing.
Other causes for pain in the lower abdomen are a blockage of the urinary tract, inflammation, a disease (for example Cröhn’s disease), overactive pelvic floor, a tumor or appendicitis.
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- Bladder stones, how do you get rid of them?
- Endometriosis in women