During pregnancy, a woman undergoes a lot of pain and ache, including tightening of stomach. Usually, stomach tightening begins as early as in your first trimester. This happens because your uterus grows as it tries to accommodate the baby within. It causes abdominal cramping or sometimes shooting pains along the side of stomach because of the tissue and ligament expansion.

Pain caused due to gas accumulation is a common reason of pain during pregnancy. It can cause intense cramping in the abdomen leading to severe pain. Another major reason is constipation. The altering pregnancy hormones sometimes decelerates the gastrointestinal tract. Beside the hormones, iron present in the prenatal vitamins can coarsen stool. Hence, both gas and constipation are other causes for a pregnant mother to feel the pull of tissues causing stomach tightening.

Stomach tightening occurs during the three vital stages of pregnancy. Let’s look at each of them in depth.

Stomach Tightening During Early Pregnancy

In the first trimester, your stomach may feel tight due to the growing size of the uterus. Uterus expansion usually happens when your body is trying to accommodate the growing size of the baby. Other sensations could include shooting pains on the sides of your stomach as your muscles expand and contract.

Sometimes, painful stomach tightening is a sign of miscarriage. It happens mostly before the 12ᵗʰ week of pregnancy. However, if you experience painful stomach tightening alongside other signs of miscarriage, it is advised to call a doctor or midwife for assistance.

In case you to-be mothers are anxious to know the signs, then here’s what you need to look out for:

  • Cramping in your stomach

  • Cramping in your lower back

  • Bleeding or spotting

  • Observing tissue or fluid pass

Stomach Tightening in Second and Third Trimester

As your body begins to embrace pregnancy, you may feel stomach tightening and sharp pains known as round ligament pain. It is often experienced in the second trimester of pregnancy and may extend from your hip area or abdomen to your groin. You may also experience Braxton-Hicks contractions in early fourth month of your pregnancy. However, they aren’t painful like the regular labor contractions. In some cases, to-be mothers also experience what is called as an irritable uterus. Having an irritable uterus causes frequent stomach tightening that doesn’t ease by rest or hydration. Experiencing regular cramps that come and go can be dealt with by consuming plenty of fluids. But if the frequency of cramps tend to stay longer and occur in close intervals, immediately consult your healthcare provider to avoid premature delivery.

The third trimester of pregnancy specifically marks tightening of stomach that may a sign of labor. Labor contractions usually take a subtle start and get stronger over time. Real labor contractions and tight stomach during pregnancy’s third trimester become vigorous over time. Braxton-Hicks contractions become common in the stage of pregnancy. These contractions are also termed as false labor because in many cases, women misunderstand them for labor. Nevertheless, if you experience extreme contractions at irregular intervals then consider going for an immediate check-up to your practitioner.

Irrespective of your due date, the main protocol is to call your doctor if you’ve had more than four to six contractions within an hour, regardless their pattern.

Stomach tightening is a normal occurrence during pregnancy because as your body begins to adjust to the growing fetus within you, it is natural to undergo such changes. But there are certain problems associated with a tight belly during pregnancy. Your bowels may get irregular leading to constipation. It is primarily because of your uterus pressing on the bowel. You may also experience gas accumulation and a bloated stomach during pregnancy. In taking wrong food is the main cause of this problem. Thus, make sure you follow a strict healthy diet to ward off these pesky worries during pregnancy.

Since pregnancy and a tight stomach go hand in hand, here’s what you can do to aid yourself for the problem:

  • In case of a mild belly tightening, drink plenty of water and fresh juices to stay hydrated.

  • If you’re sitting or standing in some place for a long time, don’t stand up quickly. Take your time.

  • Consult your doctor or midwife and get a good massage.

  • Your sitting and standing postures can sometimes lead to the occurrence of Braxton-Hicks contractions. In such a case, put your legs up or lie down to get relief.

  • If the cramps are severe, then take a hot shower. You may also want to use a heating pad or hot water bag.

While these may render temporary relief; but if you notice signs of a preterm labor like bleeding, continuous fluid discharge from the vagina, or increased pressure in the pelvis, then consult your doctor immediately. For you might discover that the contractions could actually be real. Hence, it is best if you check with your healthcare provider.

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