Are Abdominal Pain or Breast Tenderness Symptoms of a Pregnancy?
How do I know whether a stomach ache or cramping indicates a pregnancy, rather than the imminent onset of my period?
Is pain part of every pregnancy? If so, what kind? What causes the discomfort, and how can it be alleviated?
Let’s take a closer look!
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Stomach Pain — Am I Pregnant?
Most women, pregnant or not, are familiar with occasional sharp, stabbing pains, feelings of discomfort, or abdominal cramps. Abdominal pain may indicate a pregnancy, among countless other possible reasons. Many women also have these kinds of complaints before the onset of their period.
ℹ️ Note: If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms or strong pain, especially one-sided abdominal pain, or unexplained bleeding, seek out medical attention. These could be caused by an ectopic pregnancy.
Abdominal pain can be caused by:
Pain Before a Pregnancy
1. Ovulation Pain:
Ovulation is an element of the menstrual cycle: An egg cell matures in the follicle and then drops into the fallopian tube. This causes the protective layer around the egg to burst, releasing the egg and follicular fluid. The fimbriae (finger-like projections of the fallopian tube) gently wrap themselves around the egg, preventing it from getting lost in the large abdominal cavity and transporting it along the tunnel-like fallopian tube.
This much activity may cause slight pain, identified as “ovulation pain" or “mittelschmerz.” This is not a step in pregnancy, but rather the time when fertilization could occur.
Pain at the Beginning of a Pregnancy
If fertilization occurs, the zygote will implant in the uterus approximately five days later. This may cause slight abdominal pain, which would be the first tangible sign of pregnancy.
Events that can trigger abdominal pain will proceed in rapid succession:
The placenta forms and gradually permeates the uterus with root-like villi.
Additional blood vessels are formed, ensuring that the baby will be well supplied.
Uterine ligaments, the muscle bands that seat the uterus firmly in the woman's pelvis, expand. This process is likely to cause pain in the groin and toward to side of the abdomen.
Experiencing abdominal pain while missing a period would cause a woman to suspect that she may be pregnant.
3. Gastrointestinal Activity During Pregnancy:
Sluggish gastrointestinal activity due to hormonal changes may be another possible reason for abdominal pain. Almost half of all pregnant women periodically suffer from stomach pain, caused by flatulence or constipation.
Pain During Pregnancy
4. Less Room for the Organs:
As the pregnancy progresses, the baby and the uterus grow, leaving less space for the other organs. This can be painful, as are the noticeable kicks of the baby throughout the last trimester.
5. Softening of the Pelvis:
The loosening of the pubic bone (symphysis pubis), which connects the two halves of the pelvis, can cause sharp pain. Toward to end of the pregnancy, the gap in the symphysis pubis can loosen by 3 to 4 millimeters. This movement of the bones, and the associated pain, are more pronounced during consecutive pregnancies. A brace or maternity belt may provide relief.
6. Braxton Hicks Contractions:
After the 20th week of pregnancy, Braxton Hicks contractions can start occurring in increasing frequency. These are practice contractions and are noticeable through a sudden hardening of the abdomen, which can be accompanied by pain.
- 📅 Want to know how far along you are? Go to the Pregnancy Week Calculator
Tender Breasts — Pregnancy or PMS?
While many women experience breast tenderness before they start their period, this symptom is multiplied during early pregnancy. A pregnant woman's breasts become enlarged, due to an increased blood supply to the breasts and the development of mammary glands. The woman’s body is preparing for possible breastfeeding.
In contrast to breast pain experienced before menstruation, nipples are also affected in a pregnant woman: They protrude more strongly, may darken, and can be tender.
Back Pain at the Onset and During Pregnancy
Hormone-induced loosening of tissue can lead to back pain at the beginning of a pregnancy. This most frequently involves the sacrum and may also impact the sciatic nerve.
The increasing weight and pressure of the baby is also likely to cause sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy. Using a brace may counter this effect.
Toothache During Pregnancy
Pregnancy hormones cause gums to soften, making them more likely to swell and bleed. Nausea may result in a neglect of dental hygiene, which can also lead to toothaches.
Other Reasons for Pain During Pregnancy
As the pregnancy progresses, these types of pain are also possible:
Leg cramps due to magnesium deficiency
Pain - Worried About a Possible Pregnancy…
This extensive list need not be cause for concern. Many women experience very little discomfort during pregnancy. Oftentimes, pain is not the tell-tale sign of pregnancy.
If you want to know what the general signs of pregnancy are, read about Symptoms of Pregnancy.
Should I consult a doctor? If you are experiencing a medical emergency, seek medical help immediately. A medical professional will also be able to advise you whether your symptoms are caused by pregnancy and can administer a test if in doubt.
🤰Am I pregnant? If you want to have an immediate answer, take the free Online Pregnancy Test. Describe your symptoms and receive a detailed evaluation.
️⚖️ Should I get an abortion? If you feel worn down by this pregnancy, you may want to take our Online Abortion Test. You will receive an immediate evaluation.
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During pregnancy, the female body undergoes changes to nurture the baby. Breast tenderness, experienced by many women, may already begin in early pregnancy. As the breast grows, soreness can occur throughout the breast area. The nipples also change. They become more prominent, darker, and sensitive to touch, to the point of pain. Towards the end of pregnancy, breast tenderness and other changes are often noticeable in preparation for breastfeeding.
Breast pain can develop in early pregnancy and just before your period. In both cases, hormonal changes can trigger breast pain. Shortly before your period is due, water retention can lead to a feeling of bloating and tenderness. It is often impossible to distinguish whether these are signs of pregnancy or part of PMS. The onset of your period or a positive pregnancy test will reveal the cause of your breast tenderness.
Stomach (abdominal) pain may not necessarily be a sign of pregnancy. Many women experience abdominal cramps in early pregnancy — as the uterus begins to expand and the uterine ligaments stretch — but there are many other possible causes for abdominal pain. If your pain persists, seek medical attention! Should you also be experiencing other signs of pregnancy and miss your period, take a pregnancy test to gain clarity.