Abdominal or tummy pain is common during pregnancy. In the first trimester (weeks 0 to 12) it is common to feel mild pains in the lower tummy area. These are caused by hormonal changes and by your growing womb.

Urgent advice: Contact your midwife or GP urgently if:

  • the tummy pain is severe
  • the tummy pain feels like tightening. Tightening of your tummy could be a sign that you are having a contraction and may be going into labour. During a contraction your womb often goes hard to touch, and your abdomen can feel very tight
  • you have any bleeding from your vagina
  • the pain is in your upper tummy area, especially if it is on the right hand side, as this could be a sign of pre-eclampsia
  • you have symptoms like pain on passing urine (peeing), high temperature, needing to pee more than normal and cloudy or smelly wee. These are all signs of a urinary tract infection.

What causes severe or sharp tummy pain in pregnancy?

In the first trimester (weeks 0 to 12) sharp or severe tummy pain could be due to:

  • an ectopic pregnancy
  • a miscarriage
  • a urinary tract infection
  • constipation or trapped wind

In the second and third trimester, severe tummy pain could be due to:

  • urinary tract infections or constipation
  • placental abruption
  • premature or preterm labour if you are less than 37 weeks pregnant
  • pre-eclampsia if you are more than 20 weeks pregnant. Other symptoms are a headache, swelling of hands, feet and/or face, blurred vision or seeing flashing lights or spots in front eyes and nausea or vomiting.
Information:

Other warning signs during pregnancy

There are other warning signs to watch out for during pregnancy. They could mean you're experiencing pregnancy complications or a medical emergency.

They can also be signs of a common ailment during pregnancy.

Warning signs include:

Immediate action required: Contact your midwife, GP or obstetrician immediately if

  • you are worried about any aspect of your pregnancy
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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.

Page last reviewed: 26 March 2018
Next review due: 26 March 2021

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