It is quite normal to experience some amount of abdominal pain or discomfort during pregnancy. But severe or persistent pain can indicate something more serious and hence require a consultation with your obstetrician.
Serious complications which can cause abdominal pain during pregnancy:
• Ectopic Pregnancy – This is a serious and life threatening problem in which the fertilized egg gets implanted in the fallopian tubes outside the uterus. Cramping, severe abdominal or pelvic pain, bleeding, tenderness etc. are the commonly seen symptoms. The pain usually gets worse during coughing or physical activity. If there is heavy bleeding along with fainting episodes or dizziness, then call 911.
• Miscarriage – This is another condition which occurs during the early stages of pregnancy ie in the first 20 weeks. Initially, you may only notice vaginal spotting or bleeding which will soon be followed by abdominal pain. The bleeding can be light or heavy and the pain may be mild and crampy or severe and persistent. Either way, you need to consult your obstetrician immediately especially if your bleeding is heavy.
• Preterm Labor – Preterm or premature labor is another instance in which the woman experiences abnormal abdominal pain. Preterm labor occurs when your cervix gets dilated or the contractions begin before 37 weeks of pregnancy has been completed. Some of the symptoms include abdominal pain along with contractions, lower back ache and mounting pressure in the pelvic region, vaginal spotting or bleeding or increase in the vaginal discharge.
• Placental abruption – This is another life threatening condition in which the pregnant woman will experience abdominal pain. In this condition, the placenta gets separated, either partially or fully, from the uterus even before the baby is born. Sometimes there is only spotting but in most cases, the bleeding is obvious and heavy. Apart from abdominal pain, the person will also experience persistent cramps or contractions, back ache and uterine tenderness. This is an emergency and prompt medical assistance is a must.
• Preeclampsia – This is another serious complication that is diagnosed if you are suffering from high blood pressure and have excess protein in your urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This disorder can affect all the organs of your body and can be life threatening for your baby too. Some of the symptoms associated with this disorder include excessive swelling in your face, hands, legs and ankles and also puffiness around the eyes, severe pain and tenderness in the upper abdominal region, headache, vomiting and visual disturbances. Consult your obstetrician immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
• Urinary tract infection – This is a common and less serious condition in which the pregnant woman may experience abdominal pain. Other symptoms include a burning sensation, pain or discomfort while urinating, cloudy or foul-smelling urine, frequent urge to urinate and sometimes, bloody urine. In most instances, antibiotics are prescribed which will cure the infection. But if left untreated, a bladder infection can affect your kidneys and cause premature labor.