Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy - What to do?

Determining The Cause

It is not uncommon for a pregnant woman to experience abdominal pain. It can be caused by the same things that cause abdominal pain in women who are not pregnant. On the other hand, it can be caused by hormonal changes and conditions that are peculiar to pregnancy alone. Since the causes of abdominal pain during pregnancy are myriad, it is important that a woman who is experiencing such pain be taken very seriously and checked out thoroughly to discover the cause.

Frequently, the causes of most abdominal pain during pregnancy are minor conditions. Such events as Braxton-Hicks contractions, stretching ligaments and pubic symphysis, are the most common culprits. They are effectively treated with a pregnancy-safe pain killers. The kinds of conditions that require immediate diagnosis and treatment include ectopic pregnancy, appendicitis, urinary tract infections and threatened miscarriage, to name a few.

Upper Abdominal Pain

Upper abdominal pain is pain experienced in the region between the ribcage along the front and sides and extending downward to the belly button. This is a very common site for pain that is usually caused by indigestion, trapped wind, gastritis, kidney stones or gallbladder issues. Additional reasons for upper abdominal pain involve pancreatitis, liver disease, spleen infections, and heart problems. Since the majority of major organs are located in the upper abdomen, any pain there is immediately suspect. Treatment for this kind of pain can only be determined by knowing exactly what is happening, which means the doctor must be contacted and the proper tests run.

Lower Abdominal Pain

Serious and constant abdominal pain in the early stages of pregnancy, especially during the first twelve weeks, is often indicative of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. If a woman is experiencing cramping, similar to menstrual pain, and is bleeding vaginally, the indication can be a miscarriage. If the bleeding is profuse, with the passing of clots, there has probably been a spontaneous abortion. It is important a woman be assessed to determine whether the pregnancy is ectopic (tubal), a condition that is inherently more dangerous. If there is a tubal pregnancy, it can be treated surgically via laparoscopy, or, if caught early in the pregnancy, with drugs.

What Was That?

A sharp jab or stabbing pain in the lower abdomen experienced when a pregnant woman suddenly stands up, changes positions, or even coughs, ending in a dull ache that lasts most of the day, can be attributed to round ligament pain. Round ligaments surround the uterus and it is necessary that they stretch and thicken in order to support the size and weight of the growing womb. The natural changes that have to take place in order to accommodate the growth can cause pain on either or both sides of the abdomen.

Table of Contents
1. Abdominal Pain
2. Which pain is which?
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