How to treat cramps during pregnancy?
Many women will be used to cramps during their menstrual cycle, and unfortunately being pregnant does mean they go away!
Cramps can be mild, or severe, and usually present themselves as a ‘pulling’ feeling on one of both sides of the abdomen.
Cramping is completely normal during pregnancy, if a little uncomfortable. As your body adjusts to your growing baby you will experience different types of cramps. It’s really important to make sure you know what is normal for you and your body, so you can keep an eye out for anything that needs to be addressed by your doctor.
Common Causes of Cramping during Pregnancy
During the first trimester is when you are more likely to experience cramps regularly, as your body rapidly adjusts to your growing baby and being pregnant. There are a few possible causes:
· Baby’s Growth
As your baby grows in your womb, your uterus and surrounding abdomen will stretch. This can cause cramping all around your abdomen, and you will notice it more towards the end of your first trimester and most of your second trimester.
· Constipation & Gas
Constipation, gas and trapped gas are unfortunately pretty common complaints for women during pregnancy. Again, this is down to the changes in your internal body as your baby grows and takes up more room. This can all lead to cramping.
Second and Third Trimester
· Round Ligament Pain
This is especially common during your second trimester as your baby grows bigger and your belly starts to protrude more. The ligaments around your abdomen will also have to stretch which can lead to sharp, stabbing pains and dull aches – cramping – and this can be quite frequent.
· Sexual Intercourse
Sexual intercourse is completely safe during pregnancy, but can lead to cramping afterwards.
During your third trimester, you may experience phantom contractions – these are not real contractions but are just your body getting ready for birth. These may be very light to start with and you may experience them as cramping.
Other Causes for Cramping
Minor cramping that happens every now and again, is nothing to be worried about. However if you are experiencing intense cramping, stabbing pains and bleeding, it could be a sign of something more serious and you should seek medical attention. Some causes for these may be:
· Ectopic Pregnancy
Women who may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy will experience several different symptoms, which includes severe cramping.
This is a condition where a pregnant woman presents with high blood pressure and protein in their urine. This condition can also cause cramps. Preeclampsia usually occurs in the later stages of pregnancy.
· Placental Abruption
The placenta is the tissue which nourishes and feeds your baby. A few conditions can cause the placenta to become detached from its normal position. This is called ‘Placental Abruption’ and can cause cramping.
· Urinary Tract Infections
A person who suffers from an infection of the urinary tract presents with several symptoms including cramps.
What can I do to treat cramps during pregnancy?
Similar to when experiencing cramps during your menstrual cycle, there are a few different soothing techniques you can do to support your body during this transition. The following can help with prevention and treatment for cramping, and help you feel more relaxed:
· Take a walk, change positions, move around – this can help your body to adjust and encourage gentle stretching to help your ligaments as they adapt to your baby’s growth
· A relaxing, warm bath – warm water does wonders for the body and can be very soothing to help treat cramps.
· Relaxation techniques – pregnancy yoga encourages the body’s flexibility and stretching which can help to prevent cramps. Deep breathing is also very helpful.
· Use a hot water bottle – the heat can be very soothing and support your body as it adjusts.
· Drink plenty of water – water helps the skin’s elasticity, and can help to prevent and treat cramping.
When should I seek medical attention for cramping?
As mentioned, cramping is a very normal part of pregnancy, but if you feel concerned or need peace of mind, make sure to always speak with your doctor or midwife.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following:
· Severe cramping or abdominal pain that does not subside or is accompanied by sweating/increase in temperature or dizziness
· Any form of cramping that is also accompanied by strong contractions
· Any form of cramping that is accompanied by bleeding or discharge
Nothing is worth your peace of mind during pregnancy, and it can be very relieving to discuss any and all symptoms with your doctor or midwife, even if it’s just for reassurance.
Making sure you are stress-free and relaxed throughout your pregnancy really is the best way to deal with all of it’s symptoms – even cramping!