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Joanne Van Zuidam

Abdominal Tightening During Pregnancy

Is that tightening sensation in your belly freaking you out? Find out if your tightening abdomen is something to be worried about.

What is abdominal tightening during pregnancy?

A tightening sensation that spreads across the abdomen can be a shocker—is it a cramp? Or a contraction?

What could be causing my abdominal tightening during pregnancy?

Early in your pregnancy it might be your ligaments stretching. “As the uterus grows, it is pushing out on your abdominal musculature,” explains Robert O. Atlas, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. While this is happening, you might also be getting round ligament pain.

Later in your pregnancy, it could just be that baby is moving around in there or you’re having gas. Or your uterus is contracting— Braxton Hicks contractions are par for the course, happening randomly in the second and third trimesters, and aren’t a reason to worry. If the tightening is more constant and doesn’t let up, it could be  preterm or full-term labor.

When should I comtact my doctor about abdominal tightening?

If you’re in a high-risk pregnancy, get in touch right away! If not, don’t worry—chances are you’re just feeling your belly getting bigger. But if the tightening is happening more than four times an hour, then definitely give your OB a call.

What should I do to treat abdominal tightening?

It depends on what’s causing the symptoms. If it’s Braxton Hicks contractions, you can try switching positions—stand if you’re sitting, or sit if you’re standing—and they’ll likely go away. If it’s preterm labor, you’ll need to seek medical attention.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Braxton Hicks Contractions

Preterm Labor

Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy