Pregnancy cramps are a natural symptom of a normal pregnancy. They alert you of the changes taking place in your body as it adapts to carrying a baby. There are however, some circumstances in which cramps are severe and can point to problems with the pregnancy.
Normal pregnancy cramps
After the egg has been fertilized, around the second week of pregnancy, it will start traveling toward the uterus where it will implant. This triggers a reaction of the body to start flexing uterus muscles in order to prepare for the extra weight. These cramps are a result of implantation and are absolutely normal and should not be too hard to deal with.
Early pregnancy cramps can often be misattributed to a real pregnancy, as they are about the same in intensity like menstrual cramps. Premenstrual syndrome can lead to such cramps. A pregnancy test is usually the best way to determine whether the cramps are really a symptom of pregnancy or not.
Hormones also play a vital role in a pregnancy. The hCG hormone is released during the first 24 hours after conception and its presence is a clear sign of pregnancy. Other hormones act in softening your ligaments in order to prepare your body for birth causing muscle cramps, especially around the uterus. Your digestive system will be slowed down considerably during pregnancy so that your body will have time to extract all the nutrients from the food you eat. This can cause gas which can lead to cramps. Taking walks in order to speed up the digestive process can help with these sorts of cramps.
During the second trimester the uterus will have to grow even larger to accommodate the ever-increasing size of your baby. Muscles and ligaments will start to stretch causing cramps. These are experienced more intensely especially when getting up from the bed, bathtub or chair and even when coughing. Constipation and heartburn can also cause cramps during the second trimester.
Pregnancy cramps in the third trimester can be intense and happen often. Your baby is almost fully grown by now and your uterus is starting to have trouble supporting it. Muscles will be stretched and under tension most of the time. Relieving this tension by resting and sitting in comfortable positions may help with the cramps.
Braxton-Hicks contractions are common by the end of the second and during the third trimester. These contractions are signs of false labor. Cramps resulting from these contractions are a sign that your body is getting ready for birth. The uterus will contract at irregular intervals, tightening the muscles around it. This is a normal process and should not post any reason of concern.
Problematic pregnancy cramps
There are some instances in which cramps during pregnancy can point out to problems. But these sort of cramps usually are very intense, painful and accompanied by other alarming symptoms like: heavy vaginal bleeding, belly tenderness,spotting, fever, sharp pains on one side or the other, dizziness or the presence of grape-like tissue in your discharge. Any of these combinations can lead to a miscarriage, signs of an ectopic or molar pregnancy. If you experience these symptoms along with cramping, consult your doctor immediately.
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