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Early Cramping in Pregnancy – Is It Normal?

Early Pregnancy and Cramping

Whether mild or severe, cramping in early pregnancy is naturally alarming. If you’ve never been pregnant before, you may be worried that you’re going to miscarry. Fortunately, in most cases, cramping in early pregnancy is normal. But if you have severe cramping that is accompanied with vaginal bleeding, it can be a sign of a complication.

Cramping in early pregnancy can be light, or severe. Sometimes, light cramping signals implantation – one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Cramping may also be a sign of your uterus stretching to accommodate your developing baby. Other times, cramping can be a sign that you will have a miscarriage, or you have an ectopic pregnancy.

Because there are many reasons why you may have cramping in early pregnancy, you should contact your OB/GYN, midwife, or healthcare provider and let them know your symptoms.

Implantation Cramping

Light cramping in early pregnancy is usually a sign of implantation cramping, and it’s nothing to worry about.

Implantation cramping can feel similar to the light menstrual cramps that you have around the time of your period. The mild cramping can affect your lower abdomen, and it may feel more uncomfortable on one side.

Many women experience implantation cramping before they ever realize that they’ve conceived. Implantation usually occurs eight to ten days after you ovulate (and a few days before you are scheduled to miss your period). Sometimes, implantation cramping occurs with light and brief light vaginal bleeding or spotting.

Implantation cramping is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. The cramping is caused by your newly fertilized egg imbedding itself, burrowing into the wall of your uterus. During this process, you can feel some light cramping and you may have light vaginal spotting (called implantation bleeding).

Round Ligament Pain

Early cramping in pregnancy can also be a sign of round ligament pain, which refers to the natural stretching and growing of your uterus to accommodate the quickly developing baby. As your uterus grows, it can sometimes irritate nerve fibers that are nearby, and this can cause you to feel sharp, jabbing pain. Sometimes, round ligament pain feels like a dull ache, or a dull cramp in your lower abdomen.

Also called “growing pains,” round ligament pain is a normal pregnancy symptom that can start in the first trimester. You may notice that you feel crampy when you suddenly move position too fast, or on a day that you’ve been particularly physically active.

Round ligament pain can cause cramping, but your pain should never be severe. If you have severe cramping that comes with any vaginal discharge, lower back pain, fever, chills, or nausea and vomiting, you need to contact your doctor right away.

Gas and Constipation

Sometimes, gas pains can be easily mistaken for cramping in pregnancy. Gas pains are often described as sharp, jabbing pains in the abdomen, or even cramps in your belly. Gas pains can be intense, and once you pass the gas, your pain and gas-related cramping usually goes away.

Because of higher levels of progesterone, which slows down digestion, it’s common for pregnant women to have excess gas and more bloating than before pregnancy. Gas is an uncomfortable (not to mention embarrassing) part of the whole pregnancy experience.

Similarly, constipation – which is very common in pregnancy, again due to progesterone slowing down your digestive tract – can cause you to have abdominal pain and cramping.

Although constipation is a normal pregnancy symptom, you need to contact your doctor immediately if you have painful constipation that is accompanied with severe abdominal cramping or pain, and hard stools with mucus or blood.


Although cramping in early pregnancy is common and normal in many situations, it can also be a sign that you will have a miscarriage.

In an early miscarriage (before 5 or 6 weeks pregnant), you may have moderate cramping that is heavier than menstrual cramps. Later in the first trimester, miscarriage-related cramping can be heavy and really painful.

Common signs of a miscarriage include:

  • Pelvic cramping
  • Belly pain
  • Persistent lower back ache
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Blood clots passing from your vagina

In many situations, the first signs of a miscarriage is vaginal spotting or vaginal bleeding. (However, keep in mind that 20 percent of all pregnant women experience vaginal spotting in the first trimester, and half of these cases do not end up in miscarriage.)

During a miscarriage, cramping and abdominal pain usually comes after you notice some vaginal bleeding.

If you are ever worried about your cramping in early pregnancy, consult a healthcare provider. It’s always better to remain on the safe side and get checked out. Your doctor can often alleviate your fear (if nothing is wrong).

Ectopic Pregnancy

Early pregnancy cramping, especially if it is severe abdominal cramping on one side, is a sign that you have a tubal (or ectopic) pregnancy. During an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg grows in a location outside of the uterus – usually in the fallopian tubes. Since the pregnancy cannot develop without endangering the woman’s life, it needs to be treated.

If you have intense, one-sided cramping in pregnancy, you need to contact your doctor right away. Ectopic pregnancies can be a life-threatening situation when they aren’t caught early.

Ectopic pregnancies are rare and occur in only two percent of all pregnancies. Signs that you have an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • One-sided cramping
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Shoulder or neck pain

Contact your OB/GYN or healthcare provider if you believe that you may have an ectopic pregnancy.

How to Cope with Cramping in Early Pregnancy

When you have mild or moderate cramping in early pregnancy (that does not come with bleeding or any other unusual symptoms), it may help to take a warm bath or take a short break.

Since medications are not recommended in the first trimester – since this is a time when all of your baby’s organs are in their earliest stages of development – you should try to find natural ways to find relief, like a warm or cold compress, before trying any medication. An occasional Tylenol (acetaminophen) can alleviate your discomfort, but this should be a last resort.

For severe or intense pain, you should contact your doctor and get checked out to rule out any complications.

About the author: DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Yellie October 27, 2016, 5:00 pm

    Hello I’m yellie and i am seeking some help! in the month of August I began to take prenatals on and off but the last week of August I took them every single day so then the beginning of September came memorial day weekend and we was together that weekend September 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th and on the 3rd when we was together I took another prenatal and my period was supposed to come the 15th but it came a day early the 14th and I had no idea why and it only lasted to the 17th which is unusual because it was only 4 days long and I usually last for 7 and the bleeding flow was not normal I usually have a heavy period and have lots of blood clots when I was bleeding i seen no blood clots but like a few dots that looked like blood clots when I wiped once or twice and the flow of the blood was so light more than usual and I thought to myself well maybe it’s just a little off since we had sex around the time so then i seen him again September 18th and 19th and we had sex then again on October 7th 8th 9th and 10th and again my period was supposed to be here the 15th and instead of showing up a day early it showed up 4 days early and lasted about 2 days and acted as if it was leaving like when the period is over and shows dark dry blood and then began again for another 3 days which is not usual and again it was really light still kinda bright red not so much tho but light and still little ski marks of blood clots when usually I experience clots slot and not to be gross but feel them as well and sometimes I don’t have a appetite or i get hungry and then when i eat something im kinda automatically full or just have to drink something and be full i feel like nauseous but don’t vomit it’s seems as if my boobs got a little darker but besides that I don’t feel any different and sometimes heat flashes..I took a test a couple of weeks ago and it said negative but I’m not understanding why and I know they say if you have your period it’s a sign your not pregnant but I know when somethings different and I feel like this is so different and don’t know what to do and again October 22nd and 23rd we had sex again and it be a few times in a day maybe like twice and I’m just unsure of what’s going on I don’t have to many symptoms but like can somebody give me a little advice what it sounds like to them because this isn’t normal for me ….

  • Ano October 14, 2016, 4:17 am

    I am 6 days post Ovulation, i’ve been feeling this lower abdominal cramps at the left lower side, back ache and frequent urination for the past four days. Its like i wanna pee always and have not increased my fluids intake. Actually i had sex during my fertile period. Could these be signs of conception so soon? I even met my doctor and PT was negetive since is too early, she did other UTI but all negetive. Could it be conception please?

  • Ano October 14, 2016, 4:13 am

    I am 6 days post Ovulation, i’ve been feeling this lower abdominal cramps for the past fourdays and frequent urination. Its like i wanna pee always and have not increased my fluids intake. Actually i had sex during my fertile period. Could these be signs of conception so soon? I even met my doctor and PT was negetive since is too eatly, she did other UTI but all negetive. Could it be conception please?

  • Maggie July 6, 2016, 12:21 am

    I am 25 years old I had unprotected sex June 19 2 days before my ovulation day a week after my Breast started to get very itchy and tender. I also have been cramping from one side of my pelvic, I took a pregnancy test came out negative. This pass week my breast have became very swollen and heavy very tender to the point I can not touch them. I cramp once in a while. July 4 I did a home pregnancy test came out negetive. July 5 today first day of a miss period… I’m confused???….

    • helen August 31, 2016, 6:17 am

      hi Maggie,

      wait another 4 days and do a pregnancy test first thing in the morning if not ask a doctor for a blood test

  • LR1994 July 5, 2016, 8:02 am

    Hi im lexy i recently took a test because i had cramping and wasnt feeling right. Now my body hasnt felt right my nipples look swolen, my boobs are slightly swore, i have sharp pains around my abdomen, and my lower back has been killing me. I am also a couple days late for my period. Can i be pregnant? Please help!

  • slondile April 26, 2016, 9:54 am

    Hy gals I have cramps and I feel dizzy also the headach I did the home pregnant test 2days after we had sex with my boyfrnd but test became negative after 4days I started to don’t like food but I do feel hungry sometime I feel like I will vomite don’t knw what to do IAM pregnant ? HELP plz

    • Cochran June 14, 2016, 11:31 am

      You took the test too early to be able to know if your pregnant or not you either need to wait until your missed period or you need to wait 7-10 days after you think you conceived.

  • Summer February 27, 2016, 8:05 am

    I’m 28 yrs old, my period is late…it was due to start yesterday (2/26/16). I’ve been cramping badly for about 4 or 5 days, lower abdominal cramps and intense lower back cramps that don’t stop. I have had some headaches which are rare for me to have, but I have been under stress lately. I’ve also been feeling sick, like if I had a fever, not really nauseous. My period used to be regular every month and about three months ago it became irregular. Starting to wonder if I could be pregnant. I did have sex with my boyfriend last month on the 5th day of my period and it was unprotected. Could I be pregnant?

    • Gigi16 May 31, 2016, 9:50 pm

      You most certainly could be!! I had all your symptoms & I was pregnant! I am now 14 weeks & so excited to meet my Lil one. Did you find out if you’re pregnant?

  • Mpiloh January 27, 2016, 8:14 am

    I have had sex wit my partner 3 days b4 my period date..I got my period but it wasnt normal as it use to be, it was Light not much of it came out, stopped on day 3 my pad was clean for the whole day,,the next day a little of blood came out n now it has completely stopped I usually go on for 5 days…so now am constipated n I have sharp mild pains in my pelvic am mostly urinating n I have this huge apettite for food….I don’t wanna think am preg but I don’t know wat is reali happening…Help!!!!!!

  • xyz July 13, 2015, 12:04 am

    hi am 32 and trying for my first baby, i got mood swings after my ovulation time passed, then got stomach pain around naval and right abdomen . not in mood to eat, felt lot of fatigue, lot of gas. i took home pregnancy test it came negative. now am feeling ok before two days of my due periods date except for mild cramping in my stomach at right side, i need help to know wats going on. i wan to know is it possible tat am pregnant

  • Conceiverbeliever ladyGOR July 8, 2015, 8:05 pm

    Hello Ladys My name is Cloudliah I am 23 years old and Iam On my 5th Kid. I’ve had 2 miscarriage so in total iwould of been a mother of Seven.” My Children father is all Brothers with the same mother & father.. are SO I am a single mother of 5 with 3 babysdaddys & their all brothers(so same Bloodline)- Anytre my current pregnancy is a little more complicated then the last 7 on s0 i should say lm pregnant with twins & they dont have twins in there family. (Tim starting to wonder if they are my Babydaddy this time.cud it be Possible that i had on protected sex with Two Of the Brothers in the sameWeek & Conceived a child from each one during ovawith Two Of the Brothers in the sameWeek & Conceived a child from each one during Ovulation???- SM Really Geared out on who my Baby’s Daddy IS ???

    • Mary November 17, 2015, 10:46 am

      It sounds like you need Jesus.

      • Amy December 9, 2015, 8:05 pm

        I agree lol

    • LaQuin December 29, 2015, 4:30 pm

      Nasty ass how could u sleep with two brothers

      • Lia santos June 25, 2016, 10:25 am

        She slept with 3 of the brothers but two of them in the same week or same day.

        • Blash Anne August 24, 2016, 12:18 am

          U need jesus child howcould you get on here and say that?? That’s got to be the lowest s*** I’ve ever heard man really wow and the brothers aren’t much better either!!! You all need Jesus I am going to pray for you guys!!! Smdh

  • tshifhiwa April 6, 2015, 5:09 am

    can l bleed when l’m 1 week pregnant?

  • Nibha Rawal February 13, 2015, 8:37 am

    I am really satisfied after read these articles..it has very correct knowledge.

  • Amber November 17, 2014, 10:49 am

    So I’ve had all symptoms of pregnancy.
    I missed my period by 2 weeks, took a test and come up neg .. I get really really dizzy and I have drop to the ground a few times . I get like 15 seconds worth of period pains , grew a extra size in my boobs, sore and sometimes my nips

  • bongi November 17, 2014, 8:10 am

    Hi m 8 weeks I am experience all the symptoms of miscarriage,m worried whether I have miscarried already or what could it be? Teary eyes

    • heather meachum May 10, 2016, 11:22 am

      Have you had any clots…big clotts and REALLY pain

  • Marie July 2, 2013, 5:11 pm

    I had sex the 26th, unprotected and missed a few days of bc right before, and I’ve been feeling off since then, I’ve been bloated, cramping mild to slight, and queasy. And it’s super early suppose to get my period next week, but I’ve never felt like this before a period or missing pill days. Idk what it could be?

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  • tanesha June 28, 2013, 9:54 am

    Another thing is I’ve been having itchy nipples (sorry I know that was T-Mobile)

  • tanesha June 28, 2013, 9:41 am

    Hey I’m really curious. I had light brown discharge for about 4 days. Then I had nothing. Yesterday I wiped and it was kind of pinkish. Later on I went to the bathroom I wiped and it was a little blood. I have minor cramps (there not painful ) back pain (that comes an goes) I get headache on and off. Can I be pregnant? SOMEONE HELP!!!!

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  • Eugenia May 17, 2013, 11:12 pm

    Hi, I had a miscarriege back in in february of 2013 I was 5 weeks and my husband n me have been trying to concieve again. But today I been feeling some of the same sintoms that I felt when I was pregnant. The inverasing gas, the constipation n a little fatigue and a mild abdomen pain, execpt my pain is on my right lower abdomen n not the left one like before. I havent take any test but could it possibly be that I am pregnant??

  • paige April 15, 2013, 2:48 am

    im 8 weeks started last week with light pink bleeding everyother day for a couple days then it turned brown an stopped..now 3 days later its medium bleeding an i have been cramping pretty bad all day probably 8 being the worse and the last time i used the restroom small blood clots came out..this is my first pregnancy an im going to go to the hospital first thing in the mornin juat looking for advice

  • Emily January 20, 2013, 9:58 pm

    I am 29 and TTC with my husband. We have one daughter and I lost my 2nd baby to a miscarriage. I am wondering if I might be pregnant because I’m on the 10th day after I noticed I was ovulating. I am feeling an ache/tug pain on my left side, abdominal (but mostly the small of my back). It is a similar feeling to when I have my period, but it began last week, when I was a good 2 weeks from my period.

    I have felt it off and on for the past week, but today it has been pretty consistent. There is no bleeding. My only big fear is that this might be ectopic.

    Would it be possible to feel an ache/tug so early in conception (it may have been at/around 10–12th). I am not due to start until the 28th, but I am already feeling concerned that something will go wrong.

  • Safy May 8, 2012, 5:49 am

    either ur period could still be on its way , or, you could have gotten a false negative on the pregnancy test 🙂 if you period doesnt come in the next few days it might be a good idea to do a blood pregnancy test at the doctor.

  • Lizzy P May 7, 2012, 1:12 pm

    I am a 32 yrs old, missed my period n having minor cramps like menstrual pains, I made the home pregnancy test it came negative, what can be the cause?

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