What are the Most Common Causes of Cramping During Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2019
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There are a number of different reasons for cramping during pregnancy, some more serious than others. Pregnancy cramps can sometimes be due to relatively benign causes such as gas, constipation, implantation, or the uterus growing. In the last weeks of pregnancy, it may also be a sign that a woman's body is getting ready for labor. In more serious cases, cramping can be a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Mild cramping is not uncommon while a woman is pregnant, but severe cramping should be reported to a doctor immediately.

When a woman first becomes pregnant, usually about a week before her period is due, she may experience the pain of implantation. This typically occurs before a woman even knows she has conceived. Implantation is the process where the egg implants itself in the uterus lining. During this time, some women may bleed a little bit, which is often mistaken for a light period.

Cramping during pregnancy is often a sign of the uterus growing. The uterus must make room for the new baby that will be growing inside of it. A woman's cramping may increase during the latter stages of pregnancy as the baby gets bigger.


Women may also have cramping during pregnancy because of gas or constipation. This is due to the amount of hormones that are present during pregnancy, which typically slow down a woman's digestive tract. Later in the pregnancy, this problem is usually exacerbated because of the uterus pushing down on the bowels.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an egg does not implant inside of the uterus, but outside of it. This implantation occurs most often in the fallopian tubes, but can happen in other places, including the ovaries. Cramping from an ectopic pregnancy usually occurs with other symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding, lower back pain, and pain in the abdomen. These symptoms should be taken seriously by any woman experiencing them, and she should see a doctor as soon as possible.

The death of a fetus before it has grown enough to live outside the womb is called a miscarriage. These usually happen before a woman is three months pregnant, and sometimes they happen before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Most miscarriages can not be prevented. Women typically experience severe cramps with a miscarriage, along with bleeding, pain in the pelvic region, and weakness.

Many women experience cramping during pregnancy as a result of the body getting ready to go into labor. In the beginning stages of labor, it is also very common for some women to have cramps. Any woman experiencing cramping during pregnancy should speak to her doctor to rule out any serious problems.


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