Different symptoms from the usual premenstrual symptoms? You might be thinking “This is it! I’m pregnant!” The signs and symptoms of pregnancy are different from the usual premenstrual ones, and if the differences in your usual premenstrual symptoms from the ones you’re having now are too obvious to ignore, you probably hit the jackpot.
High temperature for about two weeks? Checked. Slight bleeding – lesser than the usual menstrual bleeding? Checked. How about abdominal pains? Abdominal pains? Yes! One of the symptoms of pregnancy is pain in your belly. Let’s take a look at what kind of abdominal pains pregnancy brings with it, the causes and how to differentiate this from premenstrual cramps.
Causes of abdominal pain in early pregnancy
Abdominal pains in early pregnancy are caused by various factors. One cause of abdominal pain is the contractions in the uterus caused when the embryo implants itself into the endometrium.
Also, in early pregnancy, hormones like hCG, estrogen and progesterone are secreted and hormone levels change. Changes in hormone levels can weaken bowel movements, resulting in either constipation or diarrhea, and this can contribute to abdominal pains.
On the other hand, in case of premenstrual abdominal pain, the progesterone secreted by the endometrium is the culprit. Before your menstrual period starts, progesterone is secreted, and the uterus contracts, causing the menstrual blood to flow out from your vagina.
As progesterone secretion increases the intensity at which your uterus contracts, this causes the lower abdominal region to hurt.
Early pregnancy abdominal pain: When does it start?
Most moms say that they started having abdominal pains a week before their menstrual period usually starts – in other words, one week after the basal body temperature starts hitting the high range. That is the period in which the fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus and becomes an embryo.
Abdominal pains might start after implantation occurs and you see implantation bleeding, so the abdominal pains are considered an early symptom of pregnancy.
Symptoms of abdominal pain during early pregnancy
Abdominal pain in early pregnancy can be accompanied by the following signs (this can differ from individual to individual):
- Tingling sensations/Prickling pains in the area where your uterus is
- Tightness and pain in your belly, especially in the lower abdominal regions.
- Itchiness in the area where your uterus is, and a feeling that something is different (sixth sense?)
- Throbbing pain in your pelvis
Symptoms differ according to the individual – some feel pain all day long while others feel pain occasionally throughout the day.
As the abdominal pain due to pregnancy is very similar to that of premenstrual cramps, not being able to differentiate between the two isn’t an uncommon predicament. The difference can be very slight and hardly noticeable – those who have always had premenstrual cramps might notice a change in the area where the pain usually is located, while those who never had a problem with premenstrual cramps might find themselves hurting before their expected menstrual period date.
What you can do is to watch for other signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Some other symptoms are a high temperature for more than 2 weeks, implantation bleeding, and a change in vaginal discharge.
Abdominal pain during early pregnancy: “Implantation cramping”?
When the fertilized egg implants itself into the endometrium, there is a possibility that “implantation cramping” can occur. One week before your expected menstrual period date, if you feel some pain in your lower abdomen, it just might be caused by the process of implantation. Although not every mom feels this, the uterus might contract and cause a tingling sensation or a dull throbbing pain in the area where your uterus is.
If there is blood (known as implantation bleeding) after you have these pains, then the possibility of you being pregnant is relatively high.
How to fight abdominal pain in early pregnancy?
There is no need to seek treatment as these pregnancy cramps are a physiological phenomenon. However, this might not be the case when these cramps are accompanied by diarrhea. To help ease the pain, you might want to warm your body up and relax your muscles by soaking your feet in a hot tub, keeping your abdominal region warm, or eating and drinking warm food.
Stress and a change in hormone levels can lead to stronger, more painful cramps, and although getting it is impossible to rid yourself of all the stress factors in your life instantly, think long term and find ways to reduce stress. Put your plans into action, have a more optimistic outlook, and this could help reduce your pain in the immediate future, if not immediately.
This might stop your cramps from being more painful – take note of your posture. Are you doing anything that might aggravate your current condition? Avoid standing for too long, carrying heavy loads, traveling for long durations or other actions that might tire your body out. You might also want to ditch your heels for a more comfortable pair of shoes or sneakers to avoid putting stress on your abdomen.
Over-the-counter medications are available to help ease the pains of cramps, but if you suspect you might be pregnant but want to take any painkillers, check if it’s safe for consumption during pregnancy before you purchase any of these OTC medications. Although most medications are safe, take all precautions.
Changing the belief that everything – like alcohol, tobacco – is safe is the first step to getting yourself attuned to being pregnancy and a life as a mom, so don’t leave everything to fate and take that first step right now.
Abdominal pain in early pregnancy: A sign of an ectopic pregnancy?
Ectopic pregnancy is a type of abnormal pregnancy. A normal pregnancy is defined as a fertilized egg implanting itself in the lining of the uterus and growing, but as the term suggests, an ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that is established when the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus.
Fertilized eggs rarely implant themselves on the lining of tubes, or before they reach the uterus. In such cases, symptoms pointing to an ectopic pregnancy would be feeling a slight pain in the lower abdominal region, the presence of light bleeding or pinkish vaginal discharge.
An ectopic pregnancy will be registered on a pregnancy test kit although pregnancy cannot continue. In cases where the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus and continues to grow into a fetus, moms report feeling searing abdominal pains. If the egg is implanted in one of the fallopian tubes and allowed to grow, they could cause the tube to rupture; if the egg is implanted in other regions, this can give rise to other complications.
Even if you have confirmed that your pregnancy is not an ectopic one, continue to take note of any abdominal pains, especially if they go on for a long time and don’t show any signs of easing up.
In any case, first use a pregnancy test kit and if you get a positive result on the kit, but a negative one through an ultrasound, there is a possibility that your pregnancy is an ectopic one. If you have one positive and one negative result, this means you should consult your practitioner further.
Cramps that are a sign of pregnancy become less severe over time. Watch for other signs like a high body temperature for about 2 weeks, or implantation bleeding. When multiple signs of pregnancy are present, don’t panic! Keep calm even though you might not be able to confirm your pregnancy immediately, and try to face it as bravely as you can.
If the cramps go on for about a week to 10 days, and it lasts right until it’s one week past your expected menstrual period date, then it might be time to whip out that pregnancy test kit, and see what fate has in store for you.