Pregnancy Pains: What’s Normal, What’s Not

You’d think that only first-time mamas would be nervous about pregnancy and its physical manifestations. In truth, every pregnancy is different, so all women pay close attention to their baby, their bellies, and their bodies – whether it is Baby #1 or Baby #5.

Learning what’s normal and what’s not in terms of pregnancy pains and everything else pregnancy-related is one of the reasons why prenatal care is so important.

Normal Pregnancy Discomfort

Every pregnancy has its fair share of discomforts, which range from frequent urination and interrupted sleep (often due to frequent urination) to lower back aches and sore feet. All of these are to be expected, and your OB will keep you well informed about which discomforts are normal and perfectly healthy during each trimester of your pregnancy.

Examples include:

  • Minimal cramping/spotting/bleeding in the first trimester (still call your OB to check in)
  • Lower back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Morning sickness (or all day sickness)
  • Sore feet
  • Heartburn
  • Some level of stomach discomfort
  • Leg cramps or restless legs
  • Mild puffiness in your feet, ankles/legs, face and hands
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Constipation

We’ll also share tips and tricks to alleviate all of the above, most of which come down to eating small pregnancy-focused meals and snacks, keeping hydrated, exercising a little bit each day, putting your feet up as much as possible, and getting all of the rest you can.

Pregnancy Pains that Should Trigger a Call to Your OB

Then there are pregnancy pains or signals that tell us something is not as it should be. Those require an immediate call to your OB or a trip to urgent care to err on the safe side. If you or your baby are in distress, we want to establish the cause and treat it ASAP to encourage a healthy, full-term pregnancy!

Here are some of the not-so-normal pregnancy pains that warrant a call to your OB:

Spotting, cramping, or bleeding beyond minimal and after the first trimester

Again, spotting and bleeding with minimal cramping can be a normal first trimester experience, but should always be looking into. If spotting, cramping in the lower abdomen or back, or bleeding occur – call your doctor to be safe.

In some cases, particularly if there is more than a little blood or cramping persists. In some cases, it might be that your cervix is dilating too soon, in which case early treatment may be able to prevent the loss of your baby. Other times the uterus becomes “hyperactive” and we can use bed rest or medications to cease pre-term contractions before they result in a premature labor.

Burning or discomfort when urinating

Frequent urination is not uncommon. There’s a notable amount of pressure on the bladder, which means it can’t hold what it used to between times. Plus, pregnancy hormones make everything a little loosey-goosey as your body prepares to be as open and flexible as possible for labor and delivery.

If, however, urinary frequency seems more than normal or you experience any burning or discomfort, you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI). A simple urine sample is all we require to check bacteria levels and to prescribe a safe medication if necessary. The last thing you want is for an unchecked UTI to migrate up to the kidneys.

Sudden or excessive swelling

By the 7th, 8th, and 9th month of pregnancy, it’s very common to see puffiness in the extremities. Putting your feet up should see a reduction in that department. Because all women are different, degrees of pregnancy puffiness can vary.

However, sudden or excessive swelling needs to be checked immediately, especially if its accompanied by unusual headaches, high blood pressure, or a fever. You may be experiencing signs of pre-eclampsia and we’ll need to treat that ASAP.

Visit, Preeclampsia During Pregnancy, to learn more about the signs and symptoms.

Illness or fever

Your obstetrician wants to know anytime you are running a fever, vomiting, experiencing severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, or showing any other signs of illness. Being sick during pregnancy isn’t a major threat. It happens all the time and mothers and babies usually recover just fine. That said, we want to keep in touch with you in case your fever is too high for too long, hydration becomes an issue, or we feel you or your baby may be at risk and require closer monitoring.

Any signs of preterm labor

If you have contractions that escalate beyond Braxton-Hicks (common during the late-2nd and 3rd-trimesters, severe cramping in the lower back or abdomen, bleeding or unusual fluid discharge, contact your OB.

Braxton-hicks contractions are normal (Click Here to read more about them), but they don’t escalate like labor contractions and they subside when you lay down or get your feet up. While they’re good practice for what early labor feels like, they are nothing like the more intense contractions that persist through labor.

Are you experiencing pregnancy pains or symptoms that don’t seem normal or are causing you worry? Don’t hesitate to contact us here at OB/GYN Associates of Spokane. We’re happy to listen to your experience and provide clear directions about what to do next.