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What Do Pregnancy Cramps Mean? Some Important Facts

Women feel cramping during their regular periods due to common physiological processes, but this sensation may become especially noticeable after conception. Experiencing cramps may be a normal process or, in some cases, a sign of a more serious condition. Mostly, such spasms are usual phenomena during pregnancy. However, women, who experience severe or regular cramping, should pay attention to their symptoms to avoid any complications.

What Are Pregnancy Cramps?

Cramps are generally described as a pulling sensation on both sides of the abdomen. Although having such spasms is not considered an authentic method of determining conception, it is a symptom that accompanies most pregnancies. What typically causes this sensation is the uterus expanding. It stretches out the ligaments and muscles in the abdomen region. Cramping may be more noticeable when sneezing or coughing.

Women, who experience cramping, state that their symptoms are typically slightly lower than pre-menstrual syndrome cramps. In addition to the stomach area, the right or left leg may also feel some spasms like cramps. Moreover, this sensation may be focused on one area of the uterus. During early pregnancy, the location of this feeling typically depends on the place of the egg implantation. However, later on, cramping is more generalized and tends to affect both sides of the body.

Women feel cramping during their regular periods due to common physiological processes, but this sensation may become especially noticeable after conception. Experiencing cramps may be a normal process or, in some cases, a sign of a more serious condition. Mostly, such spasms are usual phenomena during pregnancy. However, women, who experience severe or regular cramping, should pay attention to their symptoms to avoid any complications.

What Are Pregnancy Cramps?

Cramps are generally described as a pulling sensation on both sides of the abdomen. Although having such spasms is not considered an authentic method of determining conception, it is a symptom that accompanies most pregnancies. What typically causes this sensation is the uterus expanding. It stretches out the ligaments and muscles in the abdomen region. Cramping may be more noticeable when sneezing or coughing.

Women, who experience cramping, state that their symptoms are typically slightly lower than pre-menstrual syndrome cramps. In addition to the stomach area, the right or left leg may also feel some spasms like cramps. Moreover, this sensation may be focused on one area of the uterus. During early pregnancy, the location of this feeling typically depends on the place of the egg implantation. However, later on, cramping is more generalized and tends to affect both sides of the body.

Are Cramps Caused By Implantation?

The implantation process, being a precursor to the actual pregnancy, is a time when many women experience these strange cramps. Typically they are a sign that implantation is occurring even though a positive pregnancy test is not possible until later in the pregnancy. This natural process occurs anywhere from the third to the 12th day after ovulation.

Fertilization begins during ovulation, at the time when the egg is released from the ovaries. When the sperm cell luckily reaches the egg at the most-fertile time, the ovule is fertilized in the fallopian tube and becomes a zygote. The zygote then travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus where it attaches itself to the uterine wall and begins to grow.

Women can experience implantation cramping because of the physiological and hormonal changes, which always occur during implantation. It may consist of pain in the lower abdominal region, which lasts just a few seconds and appears similar to the cramps that are present during menstruations. This feeling will vary in severity from mild to mid-heavy. Additionally, as explained above, the pain may be centralized to one area of the abdomen, where the egg has implanted itself. In most cases, this type of spasms lasts for a few days or up to a week maximum. However, women may still experience this typical cramping from time to time during their pregnancies.

Cramping Throughout Pregnancy

The causes of cramping throughout pregnancy change in each trimester. During the first three months` a woman’s body is releasing additional hormones (estrogen and progesterone). They are in fact responsible for telling the uterus to expand among other processes. Once the uterus begins growing, cramping generally occurs. Additionally, before the uterine growth the attachment of the fertilized egg happens. It can also be accompanied by cramping and even spotting. Very often these signs are seen as the start of a normal monthly period, but are actually the signs of the early stages of pregnancy.

In the second and third trimesters, the uterus continues to grow, stretching the muscles and ligaments. Because of the additional pregnancy hormones in the body, the ligaments are more flexible than usual. However, this stretching sensation can appear as cramps, bearable but noticeable enough.

Pregnancy cramping and other types of muscle spasms are also associated with the third trimester and even labor. During the term, the uterus begins preparing for the upcoming birth. This preparation is called ‘Braxton Hicks contractions’. Under this term we understand mild contractions, which feel similar to those cramps of the first trimester. They should be noted since they may turn into an early labor situation.

Normal or Not?

Cramping that is relatively minor and happens on an occasional basis is probably nothing to worry about. However, in some cases, it may be the sign of a more serious problem. One of the complications that can appear early on is an ectopic pregnancy, which is when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. This condition causes painful cramps and is a serious medical condition that must be treated by a doctor.

Sharp cramping accompanied by vaginal spotting can be a sign of a miscarriage and these symptoms can occur in each trimester. They should also be a sign to seek out medical attention. Preterm labor, which is associated with increased pressure, abdominal pain, and cramps typically appear during the later stages of pregnancy. These signs are also a reason for serious concern. One final cause of cramping may be placental abruption. This is when the placenta separates from the uterus before the baby is born. It is a serious condition and can be signaled by painful cramps that do not go away.

Since many of these signs are similar, women may not always know when to ignore their symptoms and when to seek out medical attention. When you are experiencing unbearable severe pain, which does not go away for a long time, lower abdominal acute spasms, accompanied by sudden contractions, and cramping along with the pain in the shoulder-neck area, call your doctor without any delays. Additionally, when you are unsure of the nature of your symptoms, you should always check your health. It’s a rule. Sometimes it may be difficult to determine whether cramping is mild or serious, so seeking out an expert opinion is the best idea.

Most women usually experience cramping at the beginning of their pregnancies, but the mid-term spasms are also common. These mild contractions are typically normal and may be caused by increased levels of certain hormones in the body, or by physiological changes happening with the reproductive system. Since pregnancy cramps can be a sign of a serious condition, they should be noted, especially when they are severe. However, in most cases, experiencing cramps indicates normal changes in the body due to pregnancy.

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