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Stomach Pain & Pregnancy

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 284 views

Expectant mothers often complain of stomach pains. Pregnancy itself is often the reason for this: It is linked to a series of physical changes that can lead to unpleasant but often harmless stomach pain. However, the pain can also be caused by a serious disease such as HELLP syndrome. Read more about stomach pain & pregnancy and when you should see a doctor urgently.

Stomach pain & pregnancy: Not uncommon

In the narrower sense, stomach pain is understood to be pain that originates in the stomach area. However, the stomach itself does not always cause the pain; the intestines or neighboring organs such as the liver or bile can also trigger upper abdominal pain.

Stomach pain can be sharp, stabbing, pulling, burning or cramping, occur spontaneously or last for days. The pain is often accompanied by a feeling of pressure or fullness , heartburn or an early feeling of satiety.

Stomach pain is not uncommon in pregnant women. Sometimes they occur immediately after eating or after changing position, but sometimes without an obvious trigger. There are many possible causes for the pain – both harmless and dangerous.

If you are concerned about the well-being of your child because of your stomach pain, consult your midwife or gynaecologist. As a rule, you will then be relieved of your worries, since the complaints are usually harmless.

Harmless stomach pain

Being pregnant means a real masterpiece for the female body: Various physical processes are set in motion that prepare the organism in the best possible way for pregnancy and childbirth . This enormous change can lead to many different complaints, especially in the beginning. For example, many women in the first trimester of pregnancy suffer from nausea and vomiting . Constipation , bloating and heartburn increase as the pregnancy progresses . Why does pregnancy have such an impact on the gastrointestinal tract?

hormonal change

The hormonal change (especially the increase in progesterone at the beginning of pregnancy) causes the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract to become increasingly sluggish. This causes food to move more slowly through the digestive tract. Constipation and bloating are the result and can cause quite a bit of pain in the entire abdominal area. If the food is no longer removed from the stomach as quickly as usual, unpleasant stomach pains can occur. Occasionally, the pain increases to the point of stomach cramps.

Burning to painful heartburn is also an indication of the slack muscles: the muscle ring that actually regulates access from the esophagus to the stomach no longer closes properly, and acidic stomach acid can rise up into the esophagus. Heartburn can also increase in severity as the pregnancy progresses.

If you drink a lot and eat smaller, but more frequent high-fiber meals, the stomach pain usually improves. Pregnancy is also a time when you should avoid spicy, greasy and spicy foods – this is always good for the stomach too. Regular exercise helps to get your gut going.

mother tapes

Severe spasmodic pain often originates from the ligaments – two bands of muscle that hold the uterus in place. As the uterus grows, the ligaments become increasingly stretched, which can be associated with pain. Although these mainly appear as abdominal pain , they can also radiate into the upper abdomen – the pregnant woman complains of stomach pain.

Pregnancy: The child is growing, the stomach hurts

As the pregnancy progresses, not only the child but also the uterus grows significantly in size. Both take up more and more space for the surrounding organs. For example, the gastrointestinal tract is also narrowed. Depending on how the child is lying or what position you are in, the pressure on the stomach or intestines can be less or more pronounced. Constipation, flatulence and stomach pains up to cramps are common consequences. Movements or even kicks by the child in the stomach area sometimes cause stomach pain.

Dangerous causes of acute severe pain in the stomach

Pregnancy or not: stomach or upper abdominal pain can have serious causes, especially in the case of acute, severe symptoms that may be accompanied by other symptoms (such as nausea, vomiting or fever ). There are countless possible causes, for example stomach ulcers and inflammation of the gallbladder , pancreas or pleura. Gallstones are also a possible cause of severe upper abdominal or stomach pain.

Pregnancy can also harbor a specific cause of severe pain in the stomach area – HELLP syndrome. This is one of the most severe forms of pre-eclampsia and is caused by abnormal liver function. The abbreviation HELLP consists of:

  • H for hemolysis (breakdown of blood)
  • EL for elevated liver function tests
  • LP for low platelet counts

The most important symptoms of the HELLP syndrome, in addition to severe upper abdominal pain, are nausea or vomiting and possibly diarrhea . Blood pressure can also suddenly rise. If you experience such symptoms, you should contact a doctor immediately!

Conclusion: Stomach pain & pregnancy

Nausea, vomiting or stomach pains: Pregnancy is a time when some women struggle with it, but the cause is usually harmless. However, if you are very worried or the symptoms are severe and acute and are accompanied by other symptoms, we recommend that you see a doctor!

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