Causes of Upper stomach pain during pregnancy

upper stomach pain

Sickness, cramping, and muscle torment. Throbs and torments are a portion of the pregnancy travel. When it’s your body, in spite of the fact that, you'll be pondering whether these distresses are typical or concerning. How can you tell in case that torment you’re feeling in your upper stomach may be a sign that your child is developing or that your body needs help? While we can’t guarantee to know precisely what is going on along with your body, the taking after data clarifies a few of the common causes of upper stomach pain during pregnancy and a few common rules for when it’s a great thought to reach out to your specialist. 

Causes of upper stomach pain during pregnancy

Surprised when experiencing that upper stomach pain? The potential causes, ranging from the common issues to the un-often, including:


Higher level of progesterone is relaxing your intestinal muscles, so gas can happen at any point in your pregnancy. You may feel  worse especially at the end of your pregnancy trimester because then the womb is lager adding more weight on the system
If you are experiencing gas, try eating smaller meals more often. You’ll also want to identify and avoid foods that are making you feel gassy. (Sadly, all your favorite fried and greasy foods are likely culprits.) You may also want to increase the amount of exercise you’re getting, since this can aid digestion.


Up to 75 percentTrusted Source of pregnant women may experience constipation at some point in their pregnancy. Iron supplements, a diet low in fiber, a lack of sufficient fluids, and fluctuating hormones can all contribute.
  • drinking more water
  • eating smaller meals more frequently (keeping an eye out for fruits and vegetables high in fiber)
  • exercising
If you’re experiencing constipation (or just worried that you might!), simple changes can go a long way. You might consider:
If this is becoming a more frequent or serious problem, your doctor can also prescribe a stool softener.


You can feel heartburn during any stage in your pregnancy, but it’s most common in the second and third trimesters. According to a 2015 study, up to 45 percentTrusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted Source of pregnant women can experience heartburn.
It’s likely linked to the hormone progesterone loosening the muscle that normally keeps acid from traveling from the stomach up the esophagus.
Other reasons for heartburn include your growing uterus putting extra pressure on your stomach causing acids to spill out and slowed digestion increasing the risk of heartburn.
So, what can you do?
  • Eat frequent, small meals sitting up straight. (Give yourself about 3 hours between eating and bedtime!).
  • Avoid drinking beverages with meals.
  • Sleep with your head elevated.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes.
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarettes.
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks.
  • Avoid caffeine.
You can also try acupuncture or speaking to your doctor about medication options if it gets really bad.

Skin stretching and/or muscle pain

As your pregnancy continues into the second and third trimesters, your growing bump may stretch your skin tight. The added weight can also put extra pressure on your muscles.
In addition to remembering to moisturize to keep your skin hydrated and stretch marks to a minimum, you may find maternity belts/belly bands helpful when the weight of your growing belly is bothering you. (Another way to help support the extra weight and ease discomforts is with a pair of supportive maternity leggings.)
Pregnancy pillows can help you find a supported position for your body to rest while lounging, watching tv, or sleeping.


Most commonly felt in the third trimester (although many women report them in the second trimester as well), Braxton-Hicks contractions can certainly cause some abdominal discomfort, but are not a major issue.
If you are experiencing these, try changing positions and drinking more water. Usually this will help to reduce Braxton-Hicks contractions.
If you find that your contractions aren’t stopping and are increasing in frequency, length, and pain before 37 weeks’ gestation, you should contact your doctor immediately as you may be in preterm labor.

Miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy

Severe abdominal pain and cramping in the first 20 weeks may be a sign that the pregnancy is ending or not viable.
Symptoms that frequently accompany a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy are:
  • severe cramping or pain
  • heavy spotting
  • vaginal discharge
  • dizziness/lightheadedness
  • rectal pressure
  • sharp waves of pain in the back, pelvis, shoulders, or neck
You should contact your doctor immediately if you have reason to believe that you are miscarrying or have an ectopic pregnancy.


If you have a history of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or are a teenager or over the age of 35, you have an increased risk of being one of the roughly 5 percentTrusted Source of pregnant people who develop preeclampsia.

  • high blood pressure
  • frequent headaches
  • lightheadedness
  • changes in vision
  • sudden weight gain
  • abnormal swelling in the hands and face
While preeclampsia typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy, you may experience it earlier.
If you experience the following, you should contact your doctor immediately:

Other illness or issue

Sometimes even pregnant people are subject to illness or issues unrelated to their pregnancy. Possible causes of upper stomach pain unrelated to pregnancy include:
  • stones in the kidneys
  • infection of the kidneys
  •  Gallbladder stones
  • cholecystitis
  • pancreatitis
  • appendix infection or inflammation 
  • Stomach or duodenal ulcers
  • costochondritis
  • food allergies and sensitivities
If you believe that these are the cause of your stomach pains, you’ll want to speak with your doctor right away. Further testing and medical treatment will likely be required.


Cholestasis occurs when the bile flowing from your liver is off. This can lead to a buildup of bilirubin and present added risks to your pregnancy.
Symptoms of cholestasis include:
  • jaundice
  • body itchyness
  •  urine color is dark
  • light-colored stools
Although this only happens in about 1 of 1000 pregnancies, this is another time when you’ll want to notify your doctor of your symptoms. They can perform tests, monitor your levels, and make sure that your little one is staying safe. (They can also prescribe some medications to help with the itch!)

 abruptio Placentae

Although bleeding is the most frequent sign of a placental abruption (when the placenta detaches before it’s time to give birth, sometime in the second or third trimester), blood may be blocked by the shifted placenta or the amniotic sac.
Other symptoms to keep an eye out for include:
  • tenderness in the abdomen
  • sudden stomach/back pain
  • cramping that doesn’t relax
  • decreased fetal movement
These symptoms typically get worse as time passes.
While this is fairly rare (only about 1 in 100 women will experience this), it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible for the baby’s safety if you experience signs of a placental abruption.

When to Seek help?

You may still be wondering whether should you be concerned and seeking immediate attention for your specific pain. While it’s not always cut and dry, there are some general guidelines that can assist you in deciding whether or not to call your doctor.
upper stomach pain during pregnancy
You should reach out to your doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • bleeding
  • feverish
  • feeling of chills
  • Strange vaginal discharges
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling light headed
  • painful urination
  •  fetal movements will be reduced
  • Labor-like contractions
Many more symptoms can accompany it so this is not the full list. Tell your specialist to make investigations and ascertain the extent of the problem
As discussed in the article upper stomach pain during pregnancy could be due to reasons not connected to maternity itself. Such causes maybe other medical conditions like stomach ulcers or just an irritation (gastritis ) due to foods or something else. However stomach pain during pregnancy should be taken serious as it may sometimes be connected to pregnancy.

Jose Phiri-Online Clinician 

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