Some abdominal discomfort is common in pregnancy, but any kind of stomach pain during pregnancy should be checked out by your GP to make sure it is nothing serious.
It could be a pulled or stretched ligament, kidney stones, food poisoning, appendicitis, kidney stones, stomach virus, bowel obstruction or other easily treatable condition.
Or it may be a sign of something more serious such as:
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb. It is a fairly common condition, affecting one in every 80 pregnancies in the UK each year.
If there are symptoms they usually appear in the first trimester and include persistent and severe pain on one side of the abdomen.
If left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening
Miscarriage can be due to a number of reasons including chromosome abnormalities, problems with the placenta, infections, a weakened cervix, an unhealthy mother or polycystic ovary syndrome.
Vaginal spotting or bleeding is generally the first symptom, often followed by stomach pain a few hours to a few days later.
If you start to have stomach pains during pregnancy that dilate your cervix before week 37, this is premature labour and the pains are contractions.
Call your doctor or midwife immediately if your stomach pain is menstrual-like cramping, or you are having more than four contractions in one hour (even if they don’t hurt).
The pains of premature labour will often be accompanied by other signs such as an increase in vaginal discharge or a change in the type of discharge (if it becomes watery, mucus-like, or bloody), vaginal spotting or bleeding and an increase in pressure in the pelvic area or low back pain.
The placenta pulls away from the uterine wall in 1 in 100 pregnancies and this can be life-threatening to the baby and/or mother. The main symptoms are bleeding and pain (often like a continuous cramp or contraction) and an immediate Caesarean is usually required if the bleeding is heavy.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that only arises in pregnancy and is caused by a faulty placenta. It causes problems with your circulation, which can show up as raised blood pressure, protein in the urine and swelling of the hands and feet. During the early stages it is often symptomless and is only detected through routine tests.
In severe cases it may cause bad headaches, blurring or flashing lights in the vision, pain below the ribs, vomiting, and severe swelling of the face, hands and feet. If you experience any of these symptoms contact your GP or maternity unit immediately.
Urinary tract infections
Symptoms of a bladder infection may include stomach pain during pregnancy, discomfort, or burning when urinating; pelvic discomfort or lower abdominal pain (often just above the pubic bone); a frequent or uncontrollable urge to pee, even when there’s very little urine in the bladder; and cloudy, foul-smelling, or bloody urine.