Pregnancy can bring a host of transformations to your body and for that brief nine-month period, the world sure feels upside down. There’s excitement about a new life growing inside of you, but it does come with a lot of pain and discomfort.
But mums are strong and resilient and ride out all of that to bring that little munchkin into this world.
However, pregnancy is an evolving experience and brings something new every day. That’s particularly true for unexpected pains.
However, one of the more recurring issues that most pregnant women complain about is the pain in the lower right abdomen. The pain can be due to a variety of reasons. And while there’s nothing much to worry about, it’s always good to know about the symptoms.
To make things easy for you, we’ve compiled a guide on all the potential causes of pain in the lower right abdomen. Take a look.
Common Causes of Lower Right Abdomen Pain During Pregnancy
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1. Muscle strain
One of the most common reasons for pain in the lower right abdomen is the excess weight that you gain during pregnancy. Weight gain cannot be avoided and even at your fittest, you will put on a few kilos. But that added weight does make it easier to pull a muscle.
This becomes more common when you are in your second and third trimesters. So slouching while finding a comfortable position or lifting something heavy can cause pain in the lower right abdomen. It can also cause pain in your lower back.
While cramps are common when you are on your period, they can also make a come back during pregnancy. This can cause pain in the lower right abdomen.
Cramps are most common during the first and second trimester when your womb stretches, whereas a ligament strain can be the reason for it in the third trimester.
Sex can also cause cramps early on in the pregnancy, which causes aches and stabbing pain. In most cases, they subside on their own after some time.
3. Round ligament pain
Another reason for this pain to increase is when the round ligaments get irritated. This is common in the second trimester as the amniotic fluid and the weight of the baby begin to rise.
This results in your uterus expanding. The round ligaments act like ropes to keep the womb in its place. As the uterus turns larger, the ligaments get softer and stretch causing pain, especially when you cough or sneeze. The trick is to find a comfortable position or regularly do gentle stretches and flex your hips.
Learn more about round ligament pain during pregnancy here.
4. Digestive causes
Your digestion can go for a toss during pregnancy, which can cause problems like gas, constipation, and bloating.
Now, if you’ve had these problems pre-pregnancy as well, you’d know they do cause pain in the lower right abdomen.
Hormonal changes also impact digestive issues during pregnancy and are most common in the first and second trimesters.
The third trimester brings other problems like heartburn that further aggravates the pain, while also putting pressure on the digestive tract.
Some of the easier ways to relieve digestive issues include:
- Increasing your water intake
- Eating more green vegetables
- Whole-grain bread and pasta
- Brown rice
You also need to avoid a few foods to maintain a healthy digestive tract. These include:
- Milk and dairy items
- Fried food
- Artificial sweeteners
5. Braxton Hicks contractions
Braxton Hicks or “false labour” contractions is your body’s way of preparing for childbirth. However, these can sometimes happen weeks or months before the due date. But they are most common in the third trimester.
During Braxton Hicks, mums will feel tightening or cramps in the lower stomach area. While it may feel like period cramps, they last for a short while and aren’t too painful.
When enduring Braxton Hicks contractions, you will be advised to try changing your position or walking a bit.
Serious Causes of Abdomen Pain During Pregnancy
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While some common causes of pain in the stomach are temporary and go away on their own, recurring pain is also a sign of something more serious.
Here’s a look at what could cause pain in the lower right abdomen that needs medical intervention.
Your digestive system slows during pregnancy and this can cause gallstones to form in your gallbladder. This is one of the reasons why you may experience constant pain in the lower right abdomen. Symptoms of gallstones include:
- Upper right side pain
- Loss of appetite
A change in diet can help you get rid of gallstones on its own. Doctors will recommend that you stay away from fried and fatty foods for some time.
2. Ectopic pregnancy
This is when a fertilised egg begins growing outside of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy is extremely harmful to a mum’s health as a normal pregnancy can place only in the womb.
Some of the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include:
- Heavy or light bleeding
- Red or brown bleeding
- Sharp pain in the stomach
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your gynaecologist immediately. In most cases, ectopic pregnancy needs to be removed from your body before it causes further damage. However, it does not affect your uterus and you can go on to have a normal pregnancy again in the future.
Severe pain in the right side of your stomach could also be a sign of you having a miscarriage. Some of the symptoms include:
- Severe pain in your lower stomach
- Spotting or red bleeding
- Lower back pain
Miscarriages mostly take place in the first trimester and data suggests that about 15 per cent of women suffer from it during pregnancy.
It’s important to speak to your gynaecologist in the event of a miscarriage. You should also seek counselling or join support groups during this period. Unconditional support from friends and family is also necessary in these times.
One of the most common reasons for pain in the lower right abdomen is appendicitis. However, only about 0.05 per cent of pregnant women are affected by it. But that does mean there is a rare chance that you may be experiencing pain due to an infection or inflammation in your appendix.
Some of the symptoms of appendicitis include:
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
If you have appendicitis during pregnancy in the third trimester, the symptoms may include:
- Mid to upper right side pain
Appendicitis can be particularly dangerous because an infected appendix can swell and burst. This can then cause toxins to spread in your body, which could be life-threatening if left untreated.
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5. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
While UTI is a common occurrence in children and adults, it is more serious in pregnancy. Up to 10 per cent of expectant moms will get a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point during their pregnancy, which puts them at risk for developing high blood pressure and can result in preterm labour or low birth weight.
Typical symptoms of UTI during pregnancy include a sudden urge to urinate, pain or burning with urination, and bloody urination—but some patients also report having abdominal pain. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult your gynaecologist so she can give you the right and safe treatment for UTI.
This is associated with high blood pressure and about 5 to 8 per cent of pregnant women develop preeclampsia. It most commonly develops in the second and third trimesters and can raise your blood pressure to alarming levels.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Swelling of feet
- Easy bruising
- Little urination
Preeclampsia can increase your risk of having a stroke and can also damage your liver, kidneys, or lungs.
7. Placental Abruption
The placenta is a life-giving organ that is attached to the uterus (either on the top or the side) and acts as a lifeline that gives nutrients and oxygen to your baby through the umbilical cord. It is also responsible for removing waste from your baby’s blood.
After giving birth, the placenta usually detaches itself from the uterine wall. However, in some cases, the placenta detaches itself early, either completely or partially, decreasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients supplied to your baby and causing heavy bleeding in the mother. This is called placental abruption and is a serious pregnancy complication that requires immediate medical treatment.
Call your doctor right away if your abdominal pain is accompanied by:
- Uterine contractions that are longer and more intense than average labour contractions
- Uterine tenderness
- Backache or back pain
- Decreased foetal movement
Learn more about placental abruption here.
8. Preterm Labour
If you’re having strong and regular contractions accompanied by pain in your lower back before your 37th week, you may be experiencing preterm labour.
Even mums who already got pregnant and gave birth before may not be able to tell if contractions are Braxton Hicks or true preterm labour, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and call your doctor right away.
Chances are you just had a false alarm and will be sent home (like 30 per cent of pregnant women), but it’s better than to risk leaking vaginal fluid or experiencing a decrease in foetal movement.
Treatment For Pain In Lower Right Abdomen
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Milder pains can be treated at home and require subtle tweaks to help you ease the discomfort. Expecting mums can try:
- Changing their position
- Walking or moving around
- Using a hot water bottle or heat pads
- Taking a warm bath
However, if the pain is consistent and increases from mild to severe, you need to contact your doctor immediately. In some cases like appendicitis, gallstones and ectopic pregnancy, you may also need surgery.
While pains are a part of pregnancy, mums need to pay attention if it’s due to gassiness or something more severe. In most cases, little changes to your position or rest will help ease the discomfort. However, if the pain continues to increase in intensity, do not ignore it.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.