image001 The period of pregnancy calls for a wide range of different experiences, some of which are expected and some may be a little unexpected or unpredictable. Starting from morning sickness to body pain and grumpy mood, a woman can virtually experience any symptom either naturally or triggered by a stimuli.

Abdominal pain is one such symptom that women complain very often during pregnancy. However, is it normal to complain about it often? Many times, abdominal pain may be an indication of a deep rooted pathology taking place inside a woman’s body. Timely diagnosis and proper treatment can help in optimal management but the first step to that is not choosing to ignore this symptom or taking it lightly.

Is It Normal to Experience Upper Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy?

For experienced mothers, abdominal pain is a normal part of pregnancy along with mood swings, backache and food craving. Since the baby and organs are launched in the lower part of the abdomen, why should a woman experience upper abdominal pain? If you think about it, the position where the uterus is situated is the area around which pain should be felt. Poorly managed or continuous pain is a serious indication of internal disturbance that can also disrupt or interfere with the normal course of pregnancy. Therefore, it is very important to keep a good observation of the symptoms you experience, they may not mean anything on their own, but when combined they can help in diagnosing the underlying issue.

What Causes Upper Stomach Pain During Pregnancy?

1. Common Causes

It is not necessary that pain felt during pregnancy is always an indication of a serious pathology. Sometimes pain is an indication of normal pregnancy. For instance, as the course of pregnancy proceeds, the uterus continues to stretch, often resulting in abdominal pain. Besides, when the organs are pushed or pulled inside the body to accommodate expanding uterus, pain can be felt. Some other common reasons include bloating, development of gas in the stomach and diarrhea or constipation.

Nonetheless, mothers should not try to diagnose their issues themselves and it is always wise to visit a doctor at periodic intervals throughout the pregnancy.

2. Serious Problems

Upper abdominal pain during pregnancy is not always because of bloating or expanding stomach, but can also be an indication of some devastating pathologies such as those mentioned below. Each one is a serious condition during pregnancy and can result in disastrous results if left unchecked during pregnancy.

  • Preeclampsia. Traditionally, pregnant mommies experience low blood pressure when pregnant; however, it is also likely that women may develop hypertension due to disturbance in vessels or alteration in the secretion of some hormones/neurotransmitters. Uncontrolled or poorly managed blood pressure may affect brain, kidney, liver and other organs of the body. On clinical investigations, leakage of protein in the urine, generalized swelling and complaint of recurrent episodes of headaches are evident. If proper attention is not sought then stillbirth or abortion is a likely complication. Symptoms of preeclampsia include nausea, upper abdominal pain, facial swelling and distorted vision.
  • HELLP Syndrome. The term is an abbreviation for Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzyme Level and Low Platelet Count. This is a rare disorder where upper abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, swelling and occasional bleeding gums are observed as symptoms.
  • Kidney infection. Kidney infections have the tendency to spread to other parts if not treated. If you have kidney infection and are experiencing upper abdominal pain, this could be an indication of infection spreading to different connecting vessels. Signs include fever, increased micturition and chills along with upper abdominal pain.
  • Gallbladder Disorders. Gall bladder disorders include stone formation in gallbladder and resulting inflammation (also known as cholelithiasis in scientific terms). Extreme pain is felt during this condition including severe upper abdominal pain.
  • Cholecystitis. Another indication of upper abdominal pain is cholecystitis, a condition where infection of gallbladder occurs due to stones or other inflammatory causes. Common symptoms include nausea, and pain along with fever. In severe cases, surgical intervention is often needed.

How to Manage Upper Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

Here are a few tips on how to relieve abdominal pain during pregnancy. These are simple home remedies and include traditional activities; however, if you are experiencing severe pain, emergent medical help should be sought.



Take small meals

Take small meals every short time to prevent abdominal pain and gas formation.

Take some exercise

Conduct relaxation exercise that helps in relieving muscle cramps and relaxing stretched muscles. For instance, whenever you feel pain in your upper abdominal region, you should contract yourself in a fetal position and then slowly stretch your body. Continue doing this for a few minutes, relief will be felt shortly.

Avoid constipation

In some conditions, women may experience abdominal pain because of constipation, a common complaint of pregnant women. To prevent and counter this, women are advised to incorporate in their diet high fiber foods. Fibers help in absorbing water and allowing feces to pass without over-drying.

Enough fluid intake

Drinking sufficient quantities of water can prevent abdominal pain caused by constipation and bloating. It keeps the metabolic system up and going and prevents dehydration.

Urinate more often

As the pregnancy proceeds, the uterus starts to grow and occupy more space. This pushes onto the urinary bladder and increases pressure on the bladder. If urine is not passed frequently then abdominal pain is felt. Therefore, it is advised that women should urinate more often if they feel pain frequently.

Relax in good positions

Taking frequent breaks from work as well as activity and relax your body by lying or sitting in comfortable position, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. These strategies can prevent muscle fatigue and cramps, thereby minimizing the intensity and frequency of abdominal pain.

To learn more about dealing with abdominal pain during pregnancy, check out the video below:

When Must a Woman with Upper Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy Visit a Doctor?

  • Arrange a visit with an Ob/Gyn if the upper abdominal pain remains persistent, if the lower abdomen pains with cramps or if bleeding occur. The bleeding can be of small amounts and accompanied by vaginal discharge in some cases.
  • If contractions are felt and continue for a considerable period of time and/ or does not respond to over the counter remedies; make sure to have an immediate word with your doctor. If cramping is felt in the neck and shoulder along with abdomen, seek immediate medical help.
  • Fatigue, difficulty in passing urine and dizziness should not be taken lightly, so if you experience these symptoms, often call your doctor for help.
  • It is critical to take good care of yourself and keep an open eye on any suspicious signs and symptoms during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about any suspicions you have even though they may not mean much. Also refrain from self-diagnosing or self-medicating yourself to minimize the risk of complications.