Bumisuka.com – 7 Causes of Stomach Feeling Hard or Tight during Pregnancy. Feeling the stomach harden or tighten is a common sensation during pregnancy. This can happen for many reasons. Triggers for a hard or tight stomach depend on the trimester of pregnancy when it occurs, and can be identified by monitoring other symptoms.
Causes of a hard or tight stomach during pregnancy can include muscle stretching, labor-related contractions, or possible miscarriage.
If you feel any abnormalities at any point in your pregnancy, don’t delay telling your doctor. The doctor will assess and determine whether this is normal or requires further evaluation.
In the first trimester
The first trimester includes the first week of pregnancy until the 13th week. Causes of a hardened stomach during this time include:
1. Stretching the abdominal muscles
With the growth of the uterus and the development of the baby, the stomach can start to feel tighter, even in early pregnancy. Hardening is mostly caused by overstretching the abdominal muscles. This usually occurs around the 7th and 8th weeks, citing Tua Saúde.
It’s normal for the lower abdomen to appear more swollen and firm when you’re not pregnant.
Because it is normal, it does not need special treatment. If the sensation of a hard stomach becomes very uncomfortable, report it to the doctor.
Constipation is a common problem experienced by women throughout pregnancy. This occurs due to rapid hormonal changes, especially in the first trimester, which slow down the intestinal flow. A slower bowel flow can lead to increased gas formation, which can make the stomach bloated and firmer.
In addition, some women take iron supplements during pregnancy. It can also make stools harder.
You can reduce discomfort related to constipation by ensuring sufficient hydration every day. Make sure to get enough fiber from foods, such as from vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
3. Signs of miscarriage
Less commonly, a stomach that feels tight in the first trimester can indicate a miscarriage. Miscarriages most often occur before 12 weeks, although a tight stomach can be an indicator as late as 20 weeks, as reported by the National Library of Medicine.
Miscarriage also has other warning signs. Call your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Severe pain or cramps in the lower back.
- Red or brown spots on underwear.
- Blood clots in vaginal discharge.
Some miscarriages happen without warning. First trimester miscarriages are usually caused by factors completely out of your control.
In the second trimester
The second semester of pregnancy spans weeks 14 to 27. The most common causes for a hard stomach during this period are:
4. Inflammation of the round ligament
In the second trimester, the abdominal muscles and ligaments continue to stretch, making the stomach feel firmer. As a result of an enlarged belly, many pregnant women experience inflammation of the round ligaments, which causes constant pain on the inside of the abdomen. The pain can also radiate to the groin.
To relieve round ligament pain, pregnant women should rest and avoid being in the same position for a long time. Lying on your side with your stomach supported by a pillow can also help reduce pain.
5. Braxton Hicks contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as prodromal labor contractions, can appear after the 20th week. These contractions help train the muscles and prepare for actual labour. When these contractions occur, this will make the pregnant woman’s stomach feel hard. This generally lasts for about 2 minutes.
Braxton Hicks contractions are normal, and therefore do not require special treatment. If this makes pregnant women uncomfortable, tell the doctor.
6. Irritable uterus
In some cases, pregnant women may develop a condition called an irritable uterus, in which the uterine muscles contract but do not cause labor or changes in the cervix.
Reported by Healthline, contractions or tightening of the stomach in an irritable uterus feel similar to Braxton Hicks contractions. In the case of an irritable uterus, the expectant mother may experience regular and frequent tummy tucks that do not respond to rest or hydration.
Although this pattern may be alarming and a sign of preterm labour, women with an irritable uterus do not necessarily experience changes in dilatation, citing a 1995 report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
In the third trimester
7. Contractions before labor
The third trimester is the last three months of pregnancy. Besides continuing to experience Braxton Hicks contractions, round ligament pain, and constipation, there is another very important reason why the stomach becomes hard, namely contractions ahead of labor.
Generally, labor contractions are very similar to Braxton Hicks contractions, but over time, labor contractions will become more intense with less rest time between each contraction. It is normal for your waters to break during contractions.
If pregnant women feel that they are going to give birth soon, go to the hospital immediately to assess contractions. The cervix will also be checked for dilation, which will confirm whether it is time for the baby to be born. The integrity of the mucous plug will also be assessed if it is still in place.
How to relieve a hard or tight stomach during pregnancy
It’s generally normal to feel a tight or hard stomach during pregnancy, but there are ways to relieve it. Reported by Greatist, follow these tips:
- Stay hydrated.
- Switching positions, usually sleeping on your side can help calm false contractions.
- Don’t stand up or move too fast.
- Take good care of yourself, for example with massage to relax muscles and ligaments. However, talk to your doctor about safe massage first.
- Taking a warm bath, applying a heating pad or a hot water bottle can be comforting.
If none of the tips above relieve a tight or hard stomach, it never hurts to contact a doctor if you are worried.
If the gestational age is less than 36 weeks, the signs of labor are even more worrisome. For the health of mother and baby, go to the hospital immediately if you have these signs before 36 weeks of gestation:
- More than 4 to 6 contractions per hour.
- Menstrual-like cramps in the stomach or back.
- Leaking clear fluid or blood.
- Sudden pressure on the pelvis.
- Vomiting or diarrhea.
If you are worried about a tight or hard stomach during pregnancy, or if you have other accompanying symptoms, contact your doctor. The doctor will reassure you that they are false contractions, or if it’s time to give birth or there are problems, the doctor will help you give birth safely or provide the treatment needed.