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Pains in your third trimester - Stomach pain and cramps in pregnancy

Stomach or tummy pains in pregnancy are very common and can happen at any time. Most of the time, they are nothing to worry about. But sometimes they can be a sign of something more serious.

It is important to know what to look out for in each trimester and when to get help.

Urgent advice: Contact your midwife, maternity unit or hospital immediately if

you are more than 37 weeks pregnant and:

  • you think you are in labour
  • your baby's movements change
  • your contractions are 5 minutes apart and getting stronger
  • your waters break

After 28 weeks

It is common to feel uncomfortable towards the end of your pregnancy. By the third trimester you may feel pain-like contractions called 'Braxton Hicks'.

These do not happen at regular intervals. They tend to be short, lasting about 30 to 60 seconds. They are not labour pains and they are not usually very intense. You might feel discomfort rather than pain.

Constipation is another cause of stomach pain in the third trimester. By now, your growing baby and womb are putting pressure on your gut. This might make it more difficult for you to poo.

Eating foods that are rich in fibre can help, but talk to your GP, midwife or pharmacist who might advise some medicine to help you poo.

Non-urgent advice: Contact your midwife, maternity unit or hospital if

you have contractions that are:

  • intense and painful
  • less than 10 minutes apart
  • not going away

When to get medical help in your third trimester

Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP, maternity unit or hospital if you:

  • have pain when you pee - this could be a sign of a urine infection
  • have blood in your urine or smelly or cloudy urine - these could be signs of a urine infection
  • have severe pain or if your tummy feels tender when you touch it
  • have any bleeding from your vagina (this could be a sign of problems with your placenta)
  • have pain higher up in your stomach or chest, or you have a headache, swelling of your hands, feet and face or blurring of your vision - these are signs of pre-eclampsia
  • have itching, severe nausea or vomiting, or the whites of your eyes turn yellow - these could be signs of issues with your liver or your gallbladder
  • notice any change in your baby’s movements
  • feel leaking or a gush of fluid and are less than 37 weeks pregnant - this could be a sign that your waters have broken prematurely (preterm rupture of membranes)
  • are less than 37 weeks pregnant and getting regular contractions that are not going away or are getting stronger - this could be a sign of premature labour
  • have a fever (a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher ) - this could be a sign of infection

Page last reviewed: 14 November 2022
Next review due: 14 November 2025

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.