During pregnancy, many changes occur in the mother’s body, and it prepares itself for the different functions that it will fulfill. If you are very attentive, you will be able to perceive them from the first moment. Of course, the most obvious but not the only one will be the increase in belly size. Thus, while the baby gains space in the womb, the skin, ligaments, and abdominal muscles are stretched while the length of the other organs is reduced. All of this has its consequences. The breasts also prepare to fulfill their role of feeding the baby. The hormonal system is at the same time inducing changes and adjusting. Many women report more significant discomfort during the first and third trimesters. Some changes can be very intense for the mother, even producing discomfort or pain.
At FastlyHeal, we will answer the question: is it normal to have abdominal pain during the first month of pregnancy?
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Abdominal pain in the first weeks of pregnancy
The first changes that pregnant women feel are, perhaps, the tension in the breasts and belly, which can even be mistaken for premenstrual symptoms if pregnancy is not suspected. On the one hand, it is the uterus’s incomplete revolution because it will fulfill its function of housing the baby, and, on the other hand, the breasts are prepared for their healthy function. So it could be said that uterine pain and tension in the breasts are the first symptoms of fertilization of the ovum. Pregnant women describe it as similar to their pain before or with menstruation.
During the first month, estrogens and progesterone will increase considerably, and the action of these hormones will determine the increase in the size of the uterus. This is a very specialized organ whose sole mission is to house the fetus and the placenta. It is an extraordinary organ that will gradually transform throughout pregnancy, changes that the mother will sometimes perceive in the form of pain. At the end of pregnancy, the uterus, usually 8 cm long and 5 cm wide, will see its volume multiplied by a thousand; no other body has this possibility.
In addition to growing, the uterus will undergo a dextrorotation or turn during the first weeks with a tilt to the right in the abdominal cavity, which also causes discomfort. Likewise, there is some tension in the tendons and muscles of the abdomen. As the pregnancy progresses, the uterus will continue to grow, adjusting to the growth of the fetus, and these changes in dimensions will also be felt. So having abdominal pain during the first month of pregnancy is regular and even frequent. During the first month, everything starts up, which does not go unnoticed by the mother.
Causes of abdominal and belly pain during pregnancy
As we have mentioned, the gestation period is a time of changes, some of which generate discomfort that is considered normal. Among the most common causes of abdominal pain in pregnancy are:
- Round ligament growth: Round ligaments on both sides of the pelvis lengthen and thicken during pregnancy to help support the uterus. This variation can produce severe pain that is felt in the lower part of the belly on one or both sides of it. It usually appears when making a sudden movement, such as getting up from a chair or turning suddenly, after a day of great agitation. Typically, it goes away quickly after taking time off. It usually occurs from the second trimester and is not a reason to worry.
- Stretching the abdominal muscles: The muscles that line the abdomen are extended to allow the uterus to grow, which can cause discomfort or mild pain on the sides of the belly. It usually occurs in the second trimester and becomes more robust during the third. Rest can also help ease this pain.
- Intestinal discomfort: During pregnancy, certain hormones can contribute to slow intestinal transit, gas retention, and constipation, which can cause uncomfortable pain in any part of the abdomen. In addition, the growing uterus leaves little space for the stomach and intestines, putting pressure, especially on the digestive system, whose effectiveness is diminished. It is recommended to avoid substantial meals, eat foods that contain fiber and drink plenty of fluids.
- Contractions Braxton-Hicks: from the beginning of pregnancy, one can feel small contractions or pressure in the belly as if it were colic. The first months will be mild, sporadic, and not painful, but Braxton-Hick contractions appear from the second half of pregnancy, usually irregular but stronger. These contractions prepare the uterus for the time of delivery and should not be a cause for concern, even if they cause a little pain.
- Contractions during orgasm: a slight contraction may occur during or immediately after orgasm, which should not be a warning sign if it is not prolonged.
- Other less frequent causes: the pelvic bones also, in some rare cases, can cause pelvic pain that is reflected in the abdomen. On the other hand, conditions such as gallstones, common during pregnancy, can cause abdominal pain. Likewise, fibroids tend to grow under the effects of pregnancy hormones and thus cause discomfort. Similarly, if the woman has undergone any surgical intervention in the intestine, the pressure of the uterus on these scars can cause an obstruction, and this causes pain. In the latter cases, you have to be vigilant, as they can indicate more complicated situations.
How to relieve abdominal pain in pregnancy
So far, we have mentioned chronic abdominal pains of pregnancy. These are related to the body’s adjustments to its new situation, so to alleviate them, women are also required to adjust their rhythm of life to pregnancy. The most important and most practical recommendation in most cases is rest. Perhaps the mother can include in the daily routine some breaks to catch her breath, take a few minutes to relax throughout the day, and if that is not enough, perhaps lie down and take a short nap. It can also help bring a warm shower to relieve muscle tension or apply heat to the belly (a warm compress is ideal).
Moving and changing the position to help the intestine release gas is another strategy that can help reduce abdominal discomfort. Maintaining a healthy diet and hydrating well are some of the care that should be taken throughout the pregnancy and that, in addition, can help the mother to have less abdominal pain. It is also recommended to gently massage the painful area with the tips of your fingers or even touch it with the palm of your hand using a little pressure.
In cases where the pain is more intense, a special girdle for pregnant women or a maternity girdle may be recommended, which helps support the belly without putting pressure on the uterus, giving strength to the spine. The doctor may prescribe the use of pain relievers if the pain is very bothersome.
New mothers must be attentive and begin to recognize what is happening in their bodies, try to experience pregnancy as a normal physiological process, and recognize the changes they are experiencing. In the case of women who reach their second pregnancy, it is essential that they know that this time they will feel the changes with greater intensity, so the discomfort could increase, especially if not much time has passed between one pregnancy and another.
Abnormal abdominal pain in pregnancy: warning sign
Although it can be considered that it is normal to have abdominal pain during the first month of pregnancy and even throughout it, some abdominal pain warrant consulting a doctor, especially if they are very strong or prolonged, do not subside with rest or go accompanied by other symptoms. It is a warning sign if these symptoms accompany abdominal pain:
- More than six contractions in an hour or regular contractions over a long period.
- Fever, chills, dizziness, fainting, nausea, or vomiting.
- Pressure in the pelvis, as if the baby wants to come out.
- They were burning when urinating.
- Vaginal bleeding or bloody discharge.
- Intense pain in the upper abdomen.
- Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, and around the eyes.
In these cases, it is essential to consult with the gynecologist immediately, as it can be an ectopic pregnancy, a spontaneous abortion, a threat of premature labor, a placental abruption, a urinary infection, appendicitis, or even an increase in pressure blood or pre-eclampsia, a hazardous condition for both the fetus and the mother. Although pregnancy is a normal physiological state, it is a time of many changes. Each one lives in a particular way, so it is always good to be attentive to your own body and talk with your doctor.
This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.