Pregnancy (Less Than 20 Weeks) - Abdominal Pain

Is this your symptom?

  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen (stomach area). This is the area below the rib cage and above the thighs.
  • Less than 20 weeks pregnant

Causes

  • Appendicitis
  • Bladder infection
  • Constipation
  • Ectopic pregnancy (also called tubal pregnancy)
  • Fibroid
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Gastritis, peptic ulcer disease
  • Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD or heartburn)
  • Miscarriage (spontaneous abortion, missed abortion)
  • Nonspecific abdominal pain
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Round ligament pain

When Should You Seek Medical Help Right Away?

Here are some signs that the stomach pain during the first half of pregnancy might be serious. You should seek medical help or call your doctor if:

  • Moderate to severe stomach pain
  • Stomach pain is constant and lasts more than two hours
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Fever with stomach pain

Pain Scale

  • None: No pain. Pain score is 0 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Mild: The pain does not keep you from work, school, or other normal activities. Pain score is 1-3 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Moderate: The pain keeps you from working or going to school. It wakes you up from sleep. Pain score is 4-7 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Severe: The pain is very bad. It may be worse than any pain you have had before. It keeps you from doing any normal activities. Pain score is 8-10 on a scale of 0 to 10.

When to Call for Pregnancy (Less Than 20 Weeks) - Abdominal Pain

Call 911 Now

  • Passed out (fainted)
  • Very weak (can't stand)
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Moderate vaginal bleeding (soaking 1 pad or tampon per hour)
  • Passed tissue (gray-white)
  • Fever over 100.4° F (38.0° C)
  • White of the eyes have turned yellow
  • Shoulder pain
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Stomach pains come and go (cramps), and last more than 24 hours
  • Mild vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Pain or burning with passing urine
  • Blood in urine
  • Yellow, green, or gray vaginal discharge
  • You have an IUD
  • You have had a tubal pregnancy before
  • You have had tubal surgery before
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Stomach pains going into chest, with sour taste in mouth
  • Stomach pains often occur 1 hour after meals
  • Stomach pains off and on for weeks or months (are frequent, come and go)
  • Not feeling pregnant any longer

Self Care at Home

  • Mild stomach pain
  • Questions about round ligament pain (already diagnosed by your doctor)
  • Questions about heartburn (already diagnosed by your doctor)

Home Care Advice

Mild Stomach Pain

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Mild stomach pain can be caused by an upset stomach, gas pains, or eating too much. Sometimes mild stomach pain is the first sign of a vomiting illness like stomach flu.
    • In pregnant women, mild stomach pain can also be caused by heartburn or round ligament pain.
    • You can treat mild stomach pain at home.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Rest: Lie down and rest until you feel better.
  3. Fluids: Sip only clear fluids until the pain is gone for over 2 hours. Clear fluids include water, broth, and water mixed with fruit juice. Then slowly return to a normal diet.
  4. Diet:
    • Start with clear liquids. When you feel better, you can begin eating a bland diet.
    • Avoid alcohol or drinks that have caffeine in them.
    • Avoid greasy or fatty foods.
  5. Pass a Bowel Movement (BM): Sit on the toilet and try to pass a BM. Do not strain. Having a BM can help pain caused by diarrhea or constipation.
  6. Expected Course:
    • With harmless causes, the pain is usually better or goes away in 2 hours.
    • With gastroenteritis ("stomach flu"), belly cramps may occur before each bout of vomiting or diarrhea.
    • With round ligament pain, pain is usually brought on by sudden movement or certain positions.
    • With constipation or gas, the pain usually gets better by having a bowel movement.
    • With serious causes (such as appendicitis), the pain becomes constant and severe.
    • With serious causes from pregnancy (such as miscarriage or a tubal pregnancy), the pain becomes more severe, does not go away, or occurs with vaginal bleeding.
  7. Your Next Doctor Appointment:
    • Be certain to go to see your doctor at your next scheduled appointment.
    • Tell the doctor about this pain and any other symptoms you are having.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe stomach pain occurs
    • Stomach pain is constant and lasts more than 2 hours
    • Stomach pains come and go, and last more than 24 hours
    • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Round Ligament Pain - Questions About

  1. What You Should Know:

    • The round ligament helps hold up your womb (uterus) in your pelvis.
    • As your baby and womb grow during pregnancy, there is more weight pulling on the round ligament. This stretches the round ligament and causes pain.
    • What are the symptoms? The main symptom is mild pain in the lower stomach area on one or both sides. The pain can be sharp or dull. It is usually worse when standing up or walking. It gets better with lying down. It usually starts between 18 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.
    • What makes it worse? Sudden movements can bring on this pain. For example, you may roll over in the middle of the night and have a sudden sharp pain. Sitting up quickly or changing positions can also trigger round ligament pain.
  2. Treatment:
    • Stay active. Walking, yoga, and gentle stretching can all be healthy. Talk with your doctor abour exercise.
    • Avoid sudden changes in position. Get up from bed or from a sitting position slowly.
    • Try heat. Apply a warm wet towel to area or take a warm bath.
  3. Over-The-Counter Medicine:
    • You can take over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain, if needed.
    • Remember, talk with your doctor about any medicines you take.
    • Read the instructions and warnings on the package insert for all medicines you take.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe stomach pain occurs
    • Stomach pain is constant and lasts more than 2 hours
    • Stomach pains come and go, and last more than 24 hours
    • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Heartburn - Questions About

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Heartburn is common during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters. It occurs when stomach acid backs up into the foodpipe (esophagus).
    • The medical term for heartburn is Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
    • What are the symptoms? The main symptom is a burning pain in the center of the lower chest. It can also cause a sour taste in the mouth or throat.
    • What makes it worse? Fatty or greasy foods, spicy foods, drinks that contain caffeine, mints, and chocolate can cause heartburn or make it worse. Eating too large a meal or lying down right after eating can cause heartburn.
  2. Prevention - Some General Tips:
    • Do not eat during the 2 hours before bedtime.
    • Eat smaller meals. Eat 4-6 smaller meals each day instead of larger meals.
    • Avoid any foods that make it worse. For example: fatty or greasy foods, spicy foods, drinks with caffeine, mints, and chocolate.
    • Sleep with your head elevated. Gently prop your head and upper back up with a couple pillows at bedtime. Some women put wooden blocks or bricks (2-4 inches or 5-10 cm high) under the legs of the head of the bed.
  3. Medicines:
    • Talk to your doctor if the heartburn does not get better.
    • There are over-the-counter and prescription medicines that can help.
    • Read the instructions and warnings on the package insert for all medicines you take.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe stomach pain occurs
    • Stomach pain is constant and lasts more than 2 hours
    • Stomach pains come and go, and last more than 24 hours
    • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 10/22/2017 1:26:04 AM
Last Updated: 7/25/2017 1:11:58 AM

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