Early Pregnancy Symptom Cramping: What Do They Foretell?

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You may have noticed that you have had some cramping after discovering that you are indeed expecting. You should know that some mild to moderate cramping in early pregnancy is perfectly normal. Particularly during a first pregnancy this cramping can cause a new mom to be some concern. In most cases this cramping during early pregnancy is not a cause for concern at all. 

When you first find out that you are pregnant you will be a lot more aware of your body. This means that you may notice changes or mild discomforts that you wouldn't have before. Cramping during early pregnancy can be caused by several different things, and most of them are completely normal.

 The increase in the hormone progesterone is one reason that pregnant women experience cramping in early pregnancy. Increased progesterone levels are essential for a healthy full term pregnancy. When progesterone levels increase cause the ligaments in a woman’s body to loosen and stretch. 

This happens to allow the uterus and cervix to stretch and accommodate the growth of a baby. Initially, this increase in progesterone and the stretching that it causes can cause some discomfort. This may be in the form of light to mild cramping or back pain. For some women the cramping is mostly concentrated on one side of the abdomen or the other, and for others the cramping will be across the whole lower abdomen. Again, as long as the cramping is mild it is not a cause for concern. Your uterus is simply undergoing changes to better accommodate your baby. 

The early pregnancy cramping that some women experience may be due to the formation of a cyst on the ovary. During ovulation some women develop a cyst at the spot on the ovary where the egg comes out called a corpus luteum cyst. The corpus luteum cyst produces progesterone until the placenta is developed enough to produce progesterone on its own. This cyst can cause mild cramping and discomfort and possibly even a tender spot (to the touch) on the abdomen in early pregnancy. 

Now that you know mild cramping during early pregnancy is normal you might be curious as to when you should be concerned. If you experience severe cramping, or sharp abdominal pains, or sharp stabbing back pains you need to go in to see your doctor. If you have some light bleeding that gets progressively heavier then you need to get in to see your doctor immediately. These symptoms are signs of a possible miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.

A miscarriage occurs when a woman's body decides that a pregnancy is unviable for some reason. This may mean that the baby was not healthy, or that the body was simply unable to continue with the pregnancy. When this happens a spontaneous abortion or miscarriage will begin. 

The cramping from a miscarriage is more severe than that of early pregnancy cramping. This cramping may take your breath away or cause you to double over with pain. This cramping will also be accompanied by bleeding that will increase until it is heavier than that of a normal period. There will normally be the passage of some tissue that will resemble blood clots and may be pink or greyish in color. 

If you suspect that you are having a miscarriage you need to call your doctor or go to the emergency room. During a miscarriage your uterus will try to expel the fetus and tissue in the same way that it would during labor. 

One of the reasons that you need to see a doctor is because not all miscarriages are "complete". Sometimes there is remaining tissue that will need to be removed from your uterus in a procedure known as a D & C (dilation and cutterage). If you do experience a miscarriage you should know that a large percentage of women do have them, but are then able to go on and experience a full-term pregnancy. 

An ectopic or tubal pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of inside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy is not a viable pregnancy and if left untreated can be extraordinarily dangerous for the pregnant woman. Often times with an ectopic pregnancy a woman will have a positive pregnancy test, but when they test again at a later date the result will be negative.

 If you have a positive pregnancy test, but later get a negative result you need to see your doctor. Early ectopic pregnancy symptoms are the same as early pregnancy symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, breast changes, mild abdominal cramping and back pain may occur. As an ectopic pregnancy continues the cramping will go from mild to possibly severe and may be accompanied heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, dizziness, or fainting.  

An ectopic pregnancy must be treated by a doctor. If left untreated a ruptured fallopian tube from an ectopic pregnancy will cause internal bleeding that can be life threatening. Any severe cramping and bleeding after a positive pregnancy test needs to be managed by your doctor. Your doctor can perform a pelvic exam and an ultrasound to have a better idea of what is going on inside your body and how best to manage it. 

Early pregnancy cramping is a completely normal pregnancy symptom and one that most pregnant women experience to some degree. Be sure to mention even mild pregnancy cramping to your doctor, and whether or not you have experienced any spotting. Sharing this information with your doctor just keeps them informed of how your pregnancy is progressing, and also allows them the chance to reassure you of how normal this symptom is!