Why is your Stomach Tightening during Early Pregnancy?

Stomach Tightening during Early Pregnancy

You haven’t been pregnant for long, but your stomach is already tightening and you want to know why. There are a wide variety of answers, most of them are not much to worry about, such as your baby’s growing, false labor contractions, indigestion problems, or post-coital discomfort. However, in some cases of your stomach tightening during early pregnancy, you might want to contact a doctor right away, especially if false labor symptoms are severe.

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It’s Just Your Baby Growing

Just Your Baby Growing

Even in those first few months of development, your baby is constantly growing at a rapid rate. Meanwhile, your body is working to accommodate that growth. This can result in several instances of abdominal tightening. Whether it’s your uterus pressing against your internal organs, or your ligaments stretching to allow your stomach to grow, there’s a lot going on in there that could result in a tight stomach.

One very common result of ligaments stretching is Round Ligament Pain, which begins as a spasm deep within your groin that then spreads upward and outward. This may cause a stiff, tight stomach, but will not harm your baby.

There’s not much you can do to avoid this, unfortunately. Your body expanding is a natural part of your pregnancy. Adjusting your sitting position, keeping well-hydrated, and getting enough sleep can help alleviate symptoms, though, if not remove the cause. If you exercise, try to tone down any sharp or jerky movements, as sudden and fast movements may aggravate this.

You’re Experiencing a Braxton Hicks Contraction

Braxton Hicks Contraction

If you don't think you've heard of Braxton Hicks contractions before, you almost certainly have-- the layman's term is 'false labor'. Like with all contractions, “your uterus, lower abdominal area, or groin tighten or squeeze, and then relax”. However, unlike actual labor contractions, false labor contractions are irregular, don't follow a pattern, and usually don't outright hurt the way a real labor pain might.

Even though most women don’t report having a Braxton Hicks contraction until their second or third trimester, it has been observed in pregnant women during their first trimester. It can occur at any time in pregnancy (but often isn’t felt until later).

Although you usually don’t need to worry about these false contractions, if you are not yet at thirty-seven weeks and are experiencing them frequently and strongly, it is important that you contact a doctor. Relaxation exercises and meditative breathing may help ease discomfort, though it will not entirely stop all instances of the false contractions.

It’s Just Gas

Gas and constipation are “both very common symptoms of pregnancy” according to Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway, the authors of "What to Expect When You're Expecting". Because your hormones are a bit out of whack, the rest of your body reacts similarly, which can result in intestinal problems that lead to a tight belly.

You can't entirely stop this from happening, but you can make it less likely to occur. Make sure you eat plenty of fiber, stay hydrated, and regularly exercise.

Have You Had Sex Recently?

If you’ve recently had sex, you may have noticed that your stomach was tight afterward. Stomach tightening during early pregnancy after having sex can seem scary, but it's not actually much to worry about according to the authors of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. This cramping is due to orgasm and has an extremely low-risk factor to you or your baby.

Conclusion

While your stomach tightening during early pregnancy can be scary, especially to a first-time mother, it’s not much to worry about in most situations. Common reasons are your baby growing, Braxton Hicks contractions (or ‘false labor’), constipation-related gas, and recent sex.

Unless you are experiencing frequent and severe Braxton Hicks contractions, these are all normal, easily-treatable (if not curable) symptoms. In the former case, make sure you contact a licensed medical professional right away as this could be a sign of something more serious.

As for dealing with your tight stomach? Most sources agree that staying hydrated, getting a good night’s sleep, exercising regularly, and keeping your fiber content up will help soothe your discomfort as you wait for the tightness to pass. Bending towards the pain, along with a heating pad or a warm towel, will work wonders as well.

Are you experiencing stomach tightness during early pregnancy right now? Have you gone through it in the past? Do you have any questions, thoughts, stories, or advice for others in this situation? Make sure to leave any questions or comments below!

Sarah Palmer

Hi! I'm Sarah. My husband and I have a beautiful little girl; plus we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby #2, so this is a very exciting time for us. Throughout this amazing journey called Parenthood, I’ve learned so much and love sharing my experiences with other parents at SarahsLovelyFamily.com. I'd love to share my discoveries with you too!

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