While many women ask whether cramping is one of the first signs of pregnancy, it is important to be able to distinguish menstrual cramps and pregnancy cramps. Are cramps a sign of pregnancy? Is leg cramping one of the early signs of pregnancy? To learn whether it is, read on. Also find out if cramping in early pregnancy is only a sign of pregnancy and what leg cramping during pregnancy is all about.
When cramping occurs in women, it is most of the times associated with the menstrual cycle. This is not the only time though that it could be experienced. Is cramping a sign of pregnancy? This is a question that many dare not to ask.
Are Cramps a Sign of Pregnancy?
Cramps in pregnant women are common. They rarely require medical attention as they are usually mild and tend to disappear with no intervention. Most importantly, cramps as signs of pregnancy may not mean any sickness at all.
When a woman is carrying a baby in her womb, pressure is exerted on the veins, joints and muscles. The ligaments connecting your bones also stretch to accommodate the enlarging womb. If one moves, some mild pain may be felt on the abdominal area causing discomfort to most women especially in the first trimester.
In some instances, there are malfunctions in the veins. They could get engorged as they try to cope with the high volume of blood. This could lead to a feeling of discomfort too.
These instances help answer the question: Is cramping a sign of pregnancy? It is especially if it is felt in the lower abdomen. This could be either on one side or on both.
As the pregnancy continues to develop, the uterus has a tendency to lean towards the right side. This may cause the bending ligaments to spasm thus causing cramping on the right side more often than on the left.
Is Cramping an Early Sign of Pregnancy?
When cramping sets in at around the time when one is expecting their periods to start, the assumption is always that it is menstrual cramping. This may not always be the case as cramping that is only accompanied with light spotting and not later on accompanied with bleeding could be an early sign of pregnancy.
This cramping early sign of pregnancy is caused by implantation of a fertilized egg into the endometrium. Since this has to happen by the egg burrowing into the lining, slight cramping is felt and light spotting seen.
Once conception has taken place, the uterus starts to make structural adjustments in readiness for the development of the baby. It starts to expand and contract thus having a pulling effect on the abdominal ligaments of a woman. This causes cramping in early pregnancy.
Cramping could also later on in pregnancy as a result of rising hormonal levels. As progesterone levels rise, abdominal ligaments loosen. The abdomen is also stretched and increases in size. This may be continuous until one delivers as ligaments loosen to make room for the developing fetus.
While this kind of cramping is usually bearable and a positive sign, severe early pregnancy symptoms could be an indication of a pregnancy complication. Among the complications that cramping could be indicative of are:
Ectopic Pregnancy and Cramping
Like discussed above while answering the question: is cramping a sign of pregnancy, implantation is supposed to occur in the uterus. If it happens outside the uterus the pregnancy is referred to as ectopic. The most common form of ectopic pregnancy is a tubal pregnancy which occurs when implantation takes place in the fallopian tube.
This could arise as a result of the fallopian tube being too narrow for the transportation of the egg or if the pregnancy is as a result of a failed intra-uterine device or back fired tubal ligation.
Once implantation has taken place, the fetus undergoes rapid growth. Due to the limited space there is in the fallopian tube, early pregnancy cramping is experienced. If this development is not treated on time, the tube may rapture. This results in severe cramping in early pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancies may reduce a woman’s fertility especially if the rapture was severe and the tube had to be removed. This though is only minimal as most women still conceive while using a single fallopian tube.
Miscarriage and Cramping
The female body is capable of detecting unviable pregnancies. If there are either chromosomal or generic abnormalities in the development of a pregnancy, fetal loss will be experienced. This occurs in the form of a spontaneous abortion. While this is happening, cramps will be felt. This is caused by the uterus having to undergo contractions in trying to eject the fetus in the same way that giving birth happens.
While the miscarriage is completed spontaneously, no medical intervention will be carried out. If it is incomplete, a dilation and curettage process will be necessary to clean up the reproductive system.
Is Leg Cramping a Sign of Pregnancy?
As the uterus grows, it exerts more pressure on the legs. Many women wonder whether leg cramping is a sign of pregnancy. The pressure makes the nerves and blood vessels found in the legs to be strained. The baby may also drain calcium and magnesium from the mother’s blood rendering her vulnerable to cramps as it will lead to a shortage of these nutrients in the blood.
As a result of the above, involuntary contraction of the calf muscles which usually strikes at night in the second and third trimester is experienced. To ease this one could engage in the following:
- Engaging in stretching exercise before going to bed. This will help stretch the calf muscles which will improve the flow of blood and thus prevent cramps.
- Regular exercise too may help. Inquire from your health care provider which exercise packages are fit for you. This will help in making you remain active thus relax your calf muscles.
- Magnesium and calcium supplements will help cover up for any deficits that may arise. These should be taken but only with approval from a maternal health professional. Including foods rich in these nutrients could also be a great deal.
- A healthy diet that incorporates potassium, calcium and phosphorous could also help. These can be found in foods such as fresh fruits, milk products and leafy green vegetables.
- Take enough fluids to remain well hydrated. Taking plenty of water will help prevent cramps.
- One should choose footwear with caution. Ensure it is comfortable and supportive enough for your feet. Keep off heels as these will add on to the strain of the legs which is unhealthy.
- Interrupting sitting sessions by standing or walking around the house may also relieve the leg cramps sign of pregnancy.
More on Symptoms and Signs of Pregnancy:
- What are the earliest signs of pregnancy? (with Quiz)
- What Are the Earliest Signs of Pregnancy before Missed Period?
- Signs of Pregnancy before Missed Period
- Is Heartburn a Sign of Pregnancy Early On?
- First and Early Physical Signs of Pregnancy
- What are the Very First Signs of Pregnancy?
- Is Diarrhea a Sign of Pregnancy or Miscarriage?
- Early Warning Signs of Pregnancy and Complications