What Do Early Pregnancy Cramps Feel Like?

In most cases, early pregnancy cramps are normal and even expected. This guide from USA Rx explains what they feel like and how you can get relief. 

Share This Post

If you get cramps early in pregnancy, it’s completely normal to feel some anxiety. After all, cramps can be a symptom of pregnancy complications.

However, cramps are also a normal symptom of a growing uterus and, in most cases, are nothing to worry about. 

This guide from USA Rx explains what causes early pregnancy cramping, what you can do to get relief, and when you should see a doctor. 

What Causes Cramps in Early Pregnancy?

During the first trimester, your body prepares for a growing baby.

One of the main changes that occur is the growing of the uterus, an organ mainly made of muscle. 

While the uterus grows, its ligaments (tough elastic tissue) resist being stretched.

This can lead to temporary cramping in the lower abdominals. 

Another cause of cramping in early pregnancy is sexual intercourse. Orgasms release a chemical called oxytocin, which can cause uterine contractions that last several hours after sex.

woman experiencing pregnancy cramps

UTIs can also lead to cramps in early pregnancy. Pregnant women are susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) because their growing baby puts pressure on the uterus and can block the bladder from draining properly. 

Due to hormonal fluctuations, pregnant women are also more likely to get yeast infections. Both UTIs and yeast infections can cause mild cramping. 

What Do Early Pregnancy Cramps Feel Like? 

What early pregnancy cramps feel like largely depends on what is causing them. 

If you experience cramps due to a growing uterus, implantation cramps (and potentially implantation bleeding), or the release of oxytocin during sex, you may feel mild-to-moderate pain in the lower abdomen.

Like menstrual cramps, you may experience persistent, aching, or gnawing pain. 

However, if your cramps are due to another common cause, like a UTI, you might feel a slightly different type of pain, more similar to soreness.

In addition to cramps in your lower abdominals, you may also feel lower back pain, a burning sensation during urination, and soreness in the pelvic area. 

How To Relieve Early Pregnancy Cramps 

If the source of your cramps is a urinary tract or yeast infection, then you may experience a little bloating, too.

Get treated by a healthcare provider to prevent any further complications.

Once you receive medical attention, you should start to feel better. 

However, if your cramps are due to uterine stretching, your doctor may not be able to help with this early pregnancy symptom.

Instead, you can turn to home remedies to ease the discomfort. 

In between food cravings, eat a nutritious diet that supplies your body with ample sodium, potassium, and magnesium; in fact, deficiencies in these specific muscle-supporting nutrients have been linked to cramping

If you can’t get these nutrients from your food, you can take a high-quality supplement after getting the green light from your doctor. 

Applying a warm compress to your belly can also help with some discomfort.

If you can, try to make time for a nightly warm bath, which can provide some of the benefits of a warm compress while feeling incredibly soothing and providing whole-body stress relief.

Last but not least, try to take it easy. Sometimes, women experience cramping brought on by stress, which should be avoided as much as possible especially during pregnancy.

If you’re more on-edge than usual (and it’s accompanied by cramps), try a few stress-relieving strategies, like meditation, breathwork, or prenatal yoga

Can You Get Cramps Later in Pregnancy? 

Cramps don’t only happen in early pregnancy. As the uterus grows larger in the second and third trimesters, cramps are more likely to occur.

The round ligament — a muscle that supports the uterus — begins to stretch more than ever. 

While your body makes hormones to help make ligaments more elastic, you can experience periodic spasms in the round ligament.

This can lead to sharp or stabbing pain in the lower abdomen. Round ligament pain is most common during the second trimester. 

However, you can also get cramps in the third trimester. During this time, your baby’s main organs experience rapid development, leading to increasing uterine stretching.

While this is generally nothing to worry about, stay on the lookout for signs of preterm labor, such as frequent cramps, intense pelvic pressure, and lower back pain. 

When To See a Doctor 

While mild-to-moderate cramping similar to period cramps is fairly normal during pregnancy, you should see your doctor whenever you experience severe cramps, moderate vaginal bleeding, or severe pain.

If your cramping is mild but you feel uncomfortable or uneasy about it, you can always give your OBGYN a call to ask if they think it’d be beneficial to come in for further examination.

In the first trimester, severe cramping and stomach pain can indicate pregnancy loss if accompanied by heavy bleeding.

While nothing can be done to stop a miscarriage, it’s still important to see a doctor, take a pregnancy test, and get advice on attempting a future pregnancy.

Early pregnancy cramps can also result from an ectopic pregnancy, which happens when the fertilized egg implants itself into the fallopian tubes.

If an ectopic pregnancy continues to develop, it can cause the fallopian tubes to rupture, leading to severe life-threatening bleeding. 

You may not always feel like your cramps are severe enough to warrant a visit to your doctor. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

With the internet, it can be easier than ever: If you don’t want to make the trip to an urgent care clinic, you can try speaking to a doctor virtually using a telehealth service

In Conclusion 

Abdominal cramping in early pregnancy is relatively common. Normal cramping should feel mild or moderate in intensity. If cramping is due to implantation cramping,

it may be accompanied by light bleeding and is an early sign of pregnancy. Abdominal pain, however, shouldn’t be taken lightly.

If you experience severe, persistent, or sharp pain, it’s best to check in with your OB-GYN.

Even if it’s not because of a serious complication, it’s better to be safe — for you and your baby’s health. 

References and Sources: 

Maternal Plasma Levels of Oxytocin During Physiological Childbirth – A Systematic Review With Implications for Uterine Contractions and Central Actions of Oxytocin | BMC 

Urinary Tract Infection In Pregnancy | NCBI Bookshelf 

Muscle Cramps and Magnesium Deficiency: Case Reports | PMC 

Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Uterus Round Ligament | NCBI Bookshelf 

Ectopic Pregnancy | NCBI Bookshelf 

Sesame Care

Find the best price for great doctors and specialists

  • Thousands of doctors and specialists
  • $13,000,000+ saved by patients
  • 95% patient satisfaction
  • 4.3 on TrustPilot

Popular Destinations



Telehealth Reviews


Pharmacist Membership

About Us

Pharmacy Near Me

Recent Articles


Minoxidil is a vasodilator that relaxes (widens) blood vessels and improves blood flow.

Minoxidil is used to treat severely high blood pressure (hypertension) that is causing symptoms or damaging your vital organs. Minoxidil is usually given together with two other medicines to help prevent serious side effects.

Minoxidil tablets should not be used to promote scalp hair growth. Only the topical form of minoxidil (Rogaine) is recommended for that use.

Read More »

Share On:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

What Is a Chemical Pregnancy and Can You Treat It?

A chemical pregnancy occurs when an embryo stops developing in the first five weeks of pregnancy. There is no medical treatment for chemical pregnancy.

Implantation Bleeding: What It Is, When Does It Happen & How Long Does It Last?

Implantation bleeding is a very common occurrence after the fertilization of an egg in the uterus. It happens when the egg attaches to the

What Can Cause a False Negative Pregnancy Test?

Taking the test too early, diluted hCG levels, and more can contribute to a false negative pregnancy test result. Here’s what to know.

Pregnancy Acne: What Causes It, How To Alleviate It

Acne during pregnancy is common, but many treatments exist to treat it. Read on to learn why you may have acne and what you

Pregnancy Itching: Is It Normal?

Itching can be a normal part of any pregnancy, but when itching drives you crazy, it could indicate a bigger problem. Here’s what you

When Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms Start & Early Signs

An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment.

Back Pain During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes and Remedies

An aching back doesn’t make pregnancy very comfortable. Find out what’s causing it and how you can get much-needed relief. 

Irregular Periods and Pregnancy: What To Know

Having an irregular period can cause you to have cycles that aren’t consistent from month to month. Find out how they can affect getting

How Many Weeks Is Full-Term Pregnancy?

Carrying a baby to full-term is associated with many health benefits. This guide from USA Rx

How Long Should You Wait To Take a Pregnancy Test?

Sometimes, pregnancy tests can give you the wrong result because of bad timing. Should you wait to take a pregnancy test for better results?

What Does a Positive Pregnancy Test Look Like?

Each pregnancy test is different. This guide from USA Rx helps you figure out how to tell a positive pregnancy test from a negative

Pre and Post Natal Care: The Ultimate Guide

Any healthy pregnancy requires the right prenatal and post-natal care. This guide from USA Rx breaks down why it’s so important and what it

What Are the Most Common Signs of Fertility in Women?

In this article, we will discuss the most common signs of ovulation in women and also explain how to know when you are most

Where To Buy Pregnancy Tester: 7 Reliable Places

Pregnancy testers are available at your local pharmacy, grocery store, drug store, Planned Parenthood Health Center, local medical provider, and community clinics.

Prenatal Massage: A Beginner’s Guide

Prenatal massage can be a great way to improve pregnancy and labor outcomes. This guide from

Seven Tips To Face Depression During Pregnancy

Feelings of sadness are common with pregnancy, but if they last longer than you expect, you might be suffering from perinatal depression. 

What Does Pregnancy Spotting Look Like & Is it Safe

In most cases, pregnancy spotting isn’t a cause for concern. This guide from USA Rx goes over what normal spotting looks like.

Spotting and Bleeding in the First Trimester: What Is Normal?

Bleeding during pregnancy can be scary, but it’s likely not a cause for concern. Read on to see what’s normal and when to call

When Does Constipation Start in Pregnancy?

Constipation is an uncomfortable symptom of pregnancy. This guide from USA Rx breaks down what causes it and how you can prevent it. 

10 Signs That Labor Is 24 to 48 Hours Away

If you are pregnant, you may be wondering what signs to look for to determine when labor is imminent. Many pregnant women will go