Pregnancy and Cramps - How to Deal With this Condition

What's This Pain I'm Feeling?

Pregnancy brings with it all sorts of new sensations. It seems that just about everything is affected, from the emotional ups and downs caused by hormonal changes, to the physical changes that begin immediately; some obvious, some not so pronounced. Most pregnancies start out with cramping, and for many women this early pregnancy cramping feels a lot like the type of cramps they experience during ovulation or just prior to their period.

First Trimester Cramping

Lower abdominal cramping is one of the many pregnancy signs and can indicate implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus, the uterus preparing for the baby, or hormonal changes. A quick look at the pregnancy calendar may indicate that conception took place a short time before the cramping started and before long other pregnancy symptoms begin to show up. Occasionally there may be some spotting that accompanies the cramping, but it usually only lasts a couple of days. A late period with abdominal cramping are early pregnancy symptoms and it may be a good idea to take a pregnancy test.

Pregnancy cramping is not necessarily a sign that something is wrong. It is very normal to have low back pain, uterine pain, and even shooting pains in the vagina and vulva every now and then during pregnancy. Cramps are nothing more than that - cramps. The muscles of the lower abdomen are stretching as are the ligaments around the uterus. The uterus is growing to accommodate the new arrival and hormones are causing ovarian cramping and pain. Depending upon where a woman is in terms of the pregnancy calendar, pregnancy cramp symptoms may abate or increase. The most obvious increase is just before labor really sets in.

When Cramping Is A Sign Of Trouble

There are times when pregnancy cramping may be a sign of a problem, though, and it is wise to be aware of the conditions that severe or constant pregnancy symptoms of cramps indicate. These conditions require medical care. If early pregnancy cramping extends beyond six weeks, if there is heavy spotting, or if the cramps are all on one side of the lower abdomen, it could indicate an ectopic pregnancy. Gallbladder disease often affects pregnant women and presents after eating with cramping in the upper abdomen and into the shoulder area on the right side. Avoiding rich foods is helpful in this case. Unless it becomes unbearable, gall bladder issues are left until after the baby is born.

Ah, The Joys Of Pregnancy

As the pregnancy moves along, cramping can take different forms and be caused by a number of things. The ligaments continue to stretch and grow, supporting the expanding uterus. The cramps caused by this stretching is prevalent in the second trimester. Pregnancy cramps in the third trimester are often the result of Braxton-Hicks contractions, otherwise known as false labor. Another common cause for cramping is constipation, something many pregnant women deal with as hormones slow digestion down. Depending upon the location of the cramping, walking around or doing some light housework are a couple of ways to ease this type of pregnancy cramping.

Leg Cramps And Muscles Cramping

Perhaps some of the most uncomfortable cramps of all are pregnancy leg cramps and pregnancy muscle cramps that result from the strain of the extra weight of the growing baby. A combination of the hormone progesterone, and the pressure of the expanded and heavy uterus on the main vein in the legs, affect the muscles in the legs. This kind of cramping usually manifests as pregnancy calf cramps, which can be very painful. Sometimes a lack of minerals in the system causes pregnancy muscle cramps. As the baby's needs increase for nutrients, he or she will take whatever is needed from their mother's supply. Calcium and magnesium depletion often causes calf and muscle cramping. Calf stretches, drinking plenty of water, foot exercises, and warm baths are all good ways to deal with pregnancy muscle cramps.

The Best Cramps Of All

Pregnancy cramping in the third trimester is one of the key pregnancy symptoms that indicate labor is on the way. As long as it is after 37 weeks on the pregnancy calendar, labor cramps will be a welcome sign. If they occur before 37 weeks, pregnancy signs of cramps may indicate preterm labor. See the doctor if this happens. Otherwise, most cramping can be dealt with by warm showers or baths, hot compresses on the lower back, acetaminophen within the proper dosages, and just resting with the feet up.

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