During pregnancy, cramping can be a normal thing. However, it still can be worrying for the mummy-to-be. Here’s how to know what is normal, how to identify cramping, and when it is time to call the doctor.
WORDS STEPHANIE CLARISSA
Cramping! The most dreaded thing a woman can face either on her period or during pregnancy. It can be easily managed if you get updated on its facts, when it becomes a concern and how to differentiate between the various types of cramping.
As we all know, menstrual cramps are usually felt in the lower abdomen during menstrual periods, though some women may feel cramps before or after menstrual periods as well. Pregnancy cramps, on the other hand usually refer to lower or central abdominal pain that happens during pregnancy. They may sometimes feel like menstrual cramps. This allows you to be familiar with the pain making it all the more bearable.
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How do we identify cramping?
Abdominal cramping is a loose term. Cramping is often used when the abdominal pain that is felt is irregular in nature.
Mummies-to-be should be aware that constant non-spasmodic
abdominal pain would usually not be cramping.
There are a few reasons for cramping that mothers should recognise. Dr Tony Tan, a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology & consultant at Raffles Women’s Centre has broken it down to trimesters for us.
In the first trimester, a threatened miscarriage, otherwise known as an inevitable miscarriage or incomplete/complete miscarriage is often accompanied by vaginal bleeding. Ectopic pregnancy is also usually accompanied by vaginal bleeding but with occasionally severe abdominal pain. A urinary tract infection is usually associated with pain or burning sensation during the passage of urine. Another form of pain would be as the occurrence of gastrointestinal abnormalities, which is usually associated with diarrhoea or constipation. The “round ligament pain of pregnancy is usually a diagnosis of exclusion once the above diagnoses are thought to be unlikely. This pain is presumed to be due to the extension of the round ligaments during the expansion of the uterus, which occurs during pregnancy.
Following in the second trimester, abdominal cramps are usually not common. However, in the third trimester, abdominal cramps become common once again due to the much larger pregnant uterus, and the possibility of labour contractions. The causes may include:
When is cramping a time of serious concern?
It is usually serious if it is due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, urinary tract infection or premature labour. This is the most appropriate time to call the doctor especially when the abdominal cramps are severe.
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