How To Tell The Difference Between Menstrual Cramping And Implantation Cramping
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway, MD says, “The character and intensity of pain in “period cramps” and “pregnancy cramps” are very similar, but the timing of pain might provide clues.” Period cramps, otherwise known as primary dysmenorrhea, occur 24-48 hours before your period and go away once menstruation starts. They can range from mild to severe, depending on the level of prostaglandinsa hormone-like substance that triggers uterine muscle contractions. In contrast, implantation cramping occurs 2-7 days before your period and starts off very mild. You will only feel it intermittently in your lower stomach or lower back.
Stretching Of The Uterus
During the first weeks of pregnancy, you likely wont notice your uterus growing or expanding. But by the 12th week, your uterus stretches and grows to about the size of a grapefruit. If youre pregnant with twins or multiples, you may feel your uterus stretching sooner.
Symptoms of your uterus stretching may include twinges, aches, or mild discomfort in your uterine or lower abdominal region. This is a normal part of pregnancy and a sign that everything is progressing normally.
Watch for spotting or painful cramping. Report these symptoms to your doctor.
Pregnancy Cramps During The First Trimester
Many distressed women often mail us with questions regarding:
- cramps in early pregnancy 2 weeks
- cramping in early pregnancy 4 weeks
- cramping early pregnancy 5 weeks
- Are cramps caused by implantation?
Implantation is the process of egg embedment. The egg sinks in the endometrial lining and causes bleeding.
Implantation cramps last for few hours. There is pulling and cramping in the stomach. During implantation, pregnancy cramps will be towards one side of the stomach.
Later on, the cramps are all over the abdomen and body.
Leg cramps during pregnancy also start from the first trimester.
Early pregnancy cramps are localized, but later they spread to the entire region. You may feel cramps after getting up suddenly or lying down in one position.
Recommended Reading: First Signs Of Pregnancy Before Missed Period
Cramps During The Second Trimester
Women are less likely to experience cramping or other uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms during the second trimester. One exception is for women who are pregnant with multiples, since the uterus grows more rapidly and will reach third-trimester proportions in the second trimester. Here are some other causes of second trimester pregnancy cramping.
Round Ligament Pain: This benign pain occurs around week 13 when the ligaments that support the uterus stretch as the uterus grows upward. Round ligament pain is usually quick, sharp, and one-sided.
Urinary Tract Infections. Mild UTIs can also cause cramps during pregnancy in the second trimester. Other symptoms includepainful urination, the frequent need to pee, and lower abdominal discomfort. Contact your doctor if you think you have a UTI.
Uterine Fibroids: A more serious, but rare, cause is uterine fibroids. These harmless overgrowths of tissue can start breaking down in the second trimester because there’s not enough blood to sustain their growth. The pain is pretty severe. Any woman who has a history of uterine fibroids should watch for pregnancy cramps at this point, because she may need hospitalization to manage the pain effectively until it passes.
Menstrual And Pregnancy Cramps
Your uterus is a muscular organ made up of two layers. The outer muscular layer is called the myometrium. The inner layer, or endometrium, is lined with the blood and nutrients you shed during your period each month if you don’t become pregnant.
During your period, natural chemicals called prostaglandins build up in the endometrium and signal to the myometrium that it’s time to lose a few layers. These chemicals cause the uterus to contract, helping it shed its inner layer if pregnancy did not occur.
Therefore, on the first day of your period, prostaglandin levels are high, and strong cramps can cause a type of pain known as primary dysmenorrhea. This pain usually decreases over the course of your period as prostaglandin levels drop.
Prostaglandins play a role in pregnancy, too. They help the uterus contract when it’s time to have your baby. The placenta secretes prostaglandins when it’s time for labor to begin, and the cramping, or contracting, of the uterus helps move your baby through the birth canal.
Don’t Miss: Calculate Due Date From Last Period
How To Treat Stomach Cramps During The First Trimester
Needless to say, painful cramps during early pregnancy can be inconvenient and uncomfortable. You might be experiencing physical and emotional changes, and adding cramps to your discomfort might feel overwhelming. Treating pregnancy cramps can help you feel more comfortable and as stress free as possible.
If youre experiencing cramps, here are a few tips for alleviating them quickly:
- Drink water. You are more likely to experience cramps if you are dehydrated. Make sure that you drink at least eight cups of water each day.
- Change positions. When you experience cramps, try shifting positions while lying or sitting down. Dont put pressure on the source of the pain.
- Stretch and exercise. Try doing mild pregnancy exercises or stretch your body to soothe cramped muscles. In addition to relieving active cramps, this can also help prevent future ones.
- Gentle massage. A massage can stimulate blood circulation in your muscles, relieving uncomfortable cramps. Getting a gentle lower back massage might help relieve aches.
- Sleep. Try to get a good nights sleep during early pregnancy as this makes you feel rested. Try to get enough sleep every night.
What Causes Early Pregnancy Cramps
It may feel like period pains, but cramping during early pregnancy is actually your body preparing for your baby to grow. Uterine cramps are often a result of the uterus growing and stretching during pregnancy, explains Halliday.
Other harmless reasons could be a full bladder or bowel, diarrhoea or constipation, ligaments stretching or even dehydration. Women might also experience sensations during or after exercise or sex, she adds.
Also Check: Is It Bad To Stop Your Period With Birth Control
/ Is It Normal To Have Cramps At 4 Weeks Pregnant
Yes, it is perfectly normal to experience a cramping pain during implantation, which is when the fertilised egg nestles into the wall of the womb, explains Dr Beckett. Not every pregnant woman will feel it, but for those who do ‘this discomfort is likely to present 10-14 days after conception, or shortly before a woman would expect her next period,’ she says.
Now you may be thinking: ‘Hang on, 10-14 days isnt the same as four weeks,’ and youd be right, but the way we count how many weeks pregnant you are, is a bit tricksy. You actually start counting down the weeks from the first day of your last period, which will have been around two weeks before conception.
So your first month of pregnancy is already half way over before you even had sex – which is a bit odd perhaps but were grateful for anything that makes those nine months go a little quicker.
Cramps And The Third Trimester
As you enter your third trimester, youll most likely start to feel more pressure in your pelvis. This is quite common, as your baby is growing very quickly now.
Your little one presses down on the nerves that go from your vagina down to your legs. You may feel more pressure and cramping as you walk, as the baby is bouncing around in your belly. Lying down on your side for a while can ease your discomfort. But contact your doctor right away if you feel increasing, steady cramping.
Cramping during the third trimester is never really considered to be normal for pregnancy, said Bond. Bond added that if a mom-to-be is experiencing this, she should always seek out advice from her doctor as soon as possible.
While premature labor symptoms can be different in each mom-to-be, Bond added that its important to report any tightening or hardness of your belly, as well as new back pains. Especially if your back pains go along with changes in vaginal discharge.
|Increased, steady cramping in the third trimester||Premature labor|
Read Also: Can A Uti Affect Your Period
Are Cramps Normal During Early Pregnancy
Stomach cramps during early pregnancy are relatively common. If you get a few stomach cramps during the first trimester of pregnancy, its probably not a cause for alarm. These cramps are typically part of the normal physical changes in the body that occur in preparation for the baby.
Very early in your pregnancy, you may get cramps as well as light bleeding when the embryo is implanted into the wall of the uterus. This process can sometimes lead to implantation cramps and bleeding. As the pregnancy progresses, you may also feel cramping as your uterus changes and stretches to accommodate the baby.
In the following sections, we will talk about the causes of pregnancy cramps and when to call your health care provider.
How Do You Know Youre Pregnant Without Taking A Test
If your experiencing any or most of the usual pregnancy signs: missed period, implantation bleeding or pain, sore breasts, nausea, heightened sense of smell, sensitive gums or fatigue then you may be pregnant. The only way to know for SURE is to take a test.
If you are getting a negative result and you are SURE youre pregnant- ask your doctor for a blood test. I had a FALSE NEGATIVE at my DOCTORS OFFICE with a pee test!! She looked at my like I was crazy when I told her it was wrong. I got a blood test and sure enough- pregnant. Blood tests are way more accurate and can tell you earlier.
Don’t Miss: I Ve Been On My Period For 2 Weeks
Things To Know About Cramps During Pregnancy
Cramps during pregnancy can be worrisome, but theyre quite common and not necessarily cause for concern. Heres what you need to know.
Cramps during pregnancy are not only uncomfortable, but scary, as any sort of pain in the abdominal region can send an expectant mom spiralling down the path of worst-case scenarios. The good news is, cramping is fairly common and, more often than not, isnt cause for concern. The important thing is knowing when to seek help.
Why do they happen?Cramps are usually caused by the muscles of the uterus contracting, explains Amanda Selk, an ob-gyn at Womens College Hospital in Toronto. In the first trimester, cramps could be from the fertilized egg implanting in the uterus, as well as the uterus simply growing. However, if the cramps are accompanied by bleeding, they could be a sign of miscarriage. Later in pregnancy, cramps could also be a sign of preterm labour, or once you hit 37 weeks, simply labour!
Braxton Hicks contractions What feels like cramping could be Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as practice contractions, which can begin as early as the second trimester. With Braxton Hicks, the muscles of the uterus tighten for approximately 30 to 60 seconds. They tend to be irregular in intensity, infrequent, unpredictable, more uncomfortable than painful, and usually taper off and then stop entirely. They are not cause for concern.
Anyone For Gherkins And Custard
Are you getting cravings? Some women do, some don’t. Pregnancy cravings are caused by hormonal changes affecting your senses of taste and smell. Some mums go off coffee and curries. Others crave cake or fruit. Try eating a balanced healthy diet. If you get any weird pregnancy cravings, like wanting to eat dirt, talk to your midwife or doctor, as you may have a dangerous condition called pica caused by a lack of iron.
Recommended Reading: Dark Brown Discharge Instead Of Period
Cramps During Pregnancy Second Trimester
Round ligament pain is due to the stretching of muscles from both sides to hold the weight.
Second-trimester cramps may also be because of urinary tract infections. Bacterial Vaginosis during pregnancy is also quite common.
Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy can also cause pregnancy cramps in the second trimester.
If you have symptoms like vaginal bleeding and severe cramping, then it may be because of a miscarriage.
How Heavy Can Implantation Bleeding Be
Implantation bleeding in early pregnancy is generally only a light spotting of blood that appears when you wipe or that needs a light pad or panty liner. It may also look like a light flow of blood, but it is different from the typical flow of normal periods. Typical implantation bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy is pink- or brown-colored discharge.
Also Check: Why Is My Period So Heavy
Is Cramping Normal In Early Pregnancy
Causes of cramping include uterus growth and muscle and ligaments stretching.
Cramping during early pregnancy is normal. The reasons for cramping change along the course of pregnancy.
First-trimester pregnancy cramping is because of hormonal changes and implantation.
Pregnancy cramps in the second trimester are because of growth of uterus.
The round ligament pain is common during the second trimester of pregnancy. It feels like a muscle stretching like a rubber band around the baby bump.
In the third trimester, the labor contractions or Braxton Hicks can cause cramping.
Other causes of cramping during pregnancy include bloating, sexual intercourse and gas. Constipation also causes cramping in early pregnancy.
Period Cramps Vs Early Pregnancy Cramps
Period Cramps are an obvious sign and symptom of PMS or Pre Menstrual Syndrome. The Pre Menstrual Syndrome is a set of commonly occurring symptoms which usually is linked to the occurrence of the menstrual cycle of a woman. These PMS symptoms usually start two weeks prior to starting the monthly menstrual flow of the woman and end once the menstrual flow actually starts. One of the most common symptoms includes having cramps in the stomach. But such cramps are also observed sometimes in early pregnancy stages. So what is the difference between such cramps and which cramp is more painful?
The symptoms of Pre Menstrual Syndrome are very similar to those of early pregnancy including the premenstrual cramps which begin two weeks before the actual period or menstrual flow of a woman begins. Though the Pre Menstrual Syndrome cramps which begin a week or two before the menstrual cycle begins has quite a few similarities with the early pregnancy symptoms, there are some subtle differences which should be known by the woman in order to take the necessary precautions. Some of the signs of period vs pregnancy include bleeding, cramping, nausea, fatigue, breast pain and food cravings or aversions. However, the one major sign is period cramping and the implantation cramping. Not knowing the difference between the two types of cramping can be a major setback for the woman.
You May Like: How To Stop Bleeding On Your Period
What Are Some Bad Signs During Pregnancy
Warning Signs During Pregnancy
- bleeding or leaking fluid from the vagina.
- blurry or impaired vision.
- unusual or severe abdominal pain or backaches.
- frequent, severe or continuous headaches not relieved with Tylenol.
- contractions before 37 weeks more than six contractions an hour that last more than one hour.