Pregnant women do not associate cramping with pregnancy, because we think were done with our period cramps for 9 months...WRONG! What do cramps during pregnancy mean? Let's breakdown the difference between implantation cramps, before you’re pregnant, to the difference of what cramping means by each trimester. And 7 natural ways to help reduce cramps all over your body just listen in.
What do Cramps During Pregnancy Mean?
During pregnancy, cramps cause discomfort especially in the abdominal region and become scary to the expectant mother. But, cramps should not raise alarm to pregnant women as they are common.
Cramps occur due to the contraction of the uterus muscles. In the first trimester, cramps may be caused by the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus and the growth of the uterus. But, if you breed while cramping, it may be a sign of miscarriage. When the pregnancy is 37 weeks and you still experience cramps, it could be a sign of preterm labor or just labor.
Your uterus may cramp or contract at any time of the pregnancy in case you have a full bladder, exercise, an orgasm, or an infection in the urinary tract. Here is what to expect trimester by trimester.
Are you trying to get pregnant? If you notice cramps and possibly small bleeding when you think you’d be getting your period (6-12 days after ovulation), you may actually be pregnant. Implantation cramps occur when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. The egg needs to stick to the side walls of the uterus, so the body makes a substance called prostaglandins so that it can grip better. When you go to a trampoline park, do they give you slippery socks or socks with grips? Socks with grips of course! The grips are the inflammatory prostaglandins response so the egg doesn’t slip off. Prostaglandins are associated with pain and inflammation and are the trigger for when we take NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin, alieve, and naproxen. Please only take Tylenol if the cramps are too painful, and not Advil because you are just fighting your body to get pregnant.
Cramping in the First Trimester
Some women fail to notice that they are pregnant until they start cramping and yet their periods are not yet to start. Cramping may also be caused by the quick growth of the uterine in the first two trimesters. Light cramping occurs to most pregnant women in the first 16 weeks along with the beauty of morning sickness (see thru my sarcasm). Don't worry we have a 30 second solution for your worst pregnancy nausea and that's natural too called NoMo Nausea. NoMo Nausea is OBGYN recommended and uses its 3:1 essential oil infused acupressure to give you relief when you need it most.
Many women assume cramping to be a sign or a cause of miscarriage in the earlier stages, which is not the case. Miscarriages mostly happen when there is an abnormality in the development of the egg or embryo. The cramping linked to miscarriage is caused due to the irritation of the blood and tissue leaving the uterus.
Second Trimester Cramping
This occurs when you are least expecting cramps or any possible discomfort in your pregnancy. Women pregnant with multiples are however not victims of this type of cramping. This is because they reach the third trimester while still in the second trimester. Cramping may also occur during pregnancy due to the mild urinary tract infections.
Another crucial cause of cramping at this stage is the uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids, mostly prone to African women, may start in the second trimester due to insufficient blood to enhance their growth. This kind of cramping mostly occurs between 15-18 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnant women with this kind of cramping should be always alert as they may require hospitalization to effectively manage the pain.
Third Trimester Cramping
Cramping at this trimester is very common to women. Cramping often occurs in the form of Braxton Hicks contractions, which are almost similar to the contractions you get when labor begins. During the third trimester, you feel much pressure in your pelvis due to the quick growth of your baby.
When you experience cramps at this level, assess whether you could be having preterm labor and seek guidance from your doctor. If it is just normal cramping, rest and drink water or juice to eases the cramping.
Instances when cramping during pregnancy is not a concern
When you have had sex. Sexual intercourse is a common cause of cramping. You may experience cramps after an orgasm but this should not be of concern as the cramps only last for a short while. Having sex while pregnant is fine though you may have strong contractions.
However, there are some circumstances when you should not take cramping for granted. When you have more than five contractions in an hour, take great care as it may be a sign of preterm labor.
When you have not confirmed your pregnancy with the ultrasound and you experience cramping followed by bleeding, light headaches, or dizziness, it may be a sign of ectopic pregnancy.
Having pain in your abdomen or back cramping may be a symptom of gallbladder diseases, kidney stones, or appendicitis.
How to Relieve Cramping During Pregnancy
Aches and pains seem to be overtaking your life as a pregnant woman, but that doesn’t mean you just have to live with the pain. Here are 7 awesome ways to help to get rid of cramps during pregnancy.
- Taking warm showers helps to chase away cramps. Warm showers help to loosen muscles and cause a vasodilation of your vessels meaning you have more blood running thru your body to get needed healing cells to the area. Avoid using a heating pad on your abdomen particularly in the first trimester.
- Stay hydrated. Drink 8 cups of water every day because cramps are a result of electrolyte imbalance. Try eating water rich foods like cauliflower, spinach, peppers, and carrots. They also provide vitamins and minerals. If you get a super bad cramp and nothing will work, squirt mustard in your mouth for a surge of potassium electrolytes and the cramp will subside momentarily. They use this on athletic fields to stop athletes from having muscle cramps, it really works!
- Get some Mag, magnesium that is. The lack of magnesium in your diet can have a negative effect on your bodies muscles and their ability to relax. This means that your muscles will want to stay contracted, or in a state of cramping if it doesn’t have Magnesium to let go. Talk with your doctor about switching your prenatal vitamins to one that has a higher magnesium source, or they may want to prescribe you a magnesium pill to go along with it. Remember to get more natural sources of magnesium in your diet like spinach, walnuts, bananas, and dark chocolate. YES! Eat more dark chocolate, doctor’s orders ;)
- Stretch daily. Stretching helps to relax cramped muscles and it also is a great way to prevent cramps from occurring in the first place. Stretching is an act of lengthing your muscle fibers so they are less able to contract, cramp, once they are more flexible. Remember to stretch after physical exercise because your muscles are very vascularized, meaning they have lots of blood flow, and the muscles are worn out and warm so they can stretch farther than normal.
- Elevate your legs while you’re sleeping. Bringing your legs above the level of your heart helps to increase the blood flow back to the heart and decreases the lactic acid (what’s given off by the muscle when you have a cramp or sore muscles after you’ve worked out super hard) build up in causing the cramps. Placing one or two pillows under your knees also helps take pressure off of your lower back, so you get BOGO (buy one get one) relief.
- Fatigue, lack of sleep, can increase the likelihood of muscle cramping. As a pregnant mom who use to get woken up by terrible muscle cramps in my feet, I know they can wake you out of a dead sleep. I am not a nap person, but when I was pregnant I needed to get more uninterrupted sleep, so taking a 20 minute nap here and there really helped.
- Prenatal massage. A massage is good for the mind, body, and soul. Massage increases blood flow, gets rid of lactic acid build up, and keeps the muscles, tendons and ligaments relaxed. Loose muscles decrease their ability to cramp. You don’t have to buy a massage, you can do it yourself for your feet and legs especially at night before you go to sleep.
If you are worried about your cramps seek the doctor’s intervention if it gets too bad, but usually the 7 cramp remedies listed above will stop cramps even before they start.