Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy: When To Consult A Doctor?

Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy: When To Consult A Doctor?

15 Jun 2023 | 5 min Read

Sudeshna Chakravarti

Author | 799 Articles

Stomach tightening during pregnancy is common and may occur at irregular intervals throughout all the trimesters. Due to this, you may experience a feeling of tightness in your abdomen, or a sharp, shooting pain on the sides of your lower belly.

The tightening of your stomach is associated with the growing uterus and increasing maternal weight, and in some cases, could also be followed by Braxton Hicks contractions in the second and third trimesters. 

Read on as we tell you more about the possible causes of stomach tightening in each trimester, and when should you consult your healthcare provider.

Possible Causes Of Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy

Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy

The factors contributing to stomach tightening may vary depending on your pregnancy trimester / Image credit: Freepik

There are various factors that contribute to the tightening of your stomach during pregnancy, and they may vary from one trimester to another. Ahead, we give you insights on the possible causes, according to your pregnancy trimester.

Causes Of Stomach Tightening During The First Trimester

  • Constipation or gas: Constipation and gas formation are common issues that can be bothersome throughout your pregnancy. Both these conditions contribute to abdominal cramping and, in some cases, could be painful.
  • Miscarriage: In rare cases, stomach tightening may indicate a miscarriage. However, this can only be confirmed if the cramping is accompanied by other indicative symptoms of miscarriage like lower back pain, vaginal bleeding, or brownish discharge.

Causes Of Stomach Tightening During The Second Trimester

  • Stretching of your muscles: Due to hormonal changes during pregnancy and the growth of the uterus, your ligaments and abdominal muscles are stretched, resulting in sharp, shooting pains, or abdominal cramps.
  • Round ligament pain: Your uterus is generally supported by thick bands of the round ligament. Due to the exponential growth of your uterus in the second trimester, this ligament gets stretched, further resulting in abrupt, stabbing pain in your groin area or lower abdomen, on one or both sides. In some cases, this pain could also feel like a tightening sensation in your stomach, as you change your positions while sitting or standing.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions: During the later stages of your second trimester, you may experience false labour, or more commonly known as Braxton Hicks contractions. When these contractions occur, you may experience an uncomfortable or tightening feeling in your abdomen. These contractions last for about 30-60 seconds and are not as painful as the real ones.

Causes Of Stomach Tightening During The Third Trimester

Feeling tightness in your stomach in the last stages of pregnancy could indicate the onset of labour. True contractions are more prominent in strength and frequency, and it’s essential to keep track of them, to ensure you receive timely medical attention.

Some Other Causes Of Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy

  • Overeating: Binge-eating or overeating can make your belly feel stiff and tight. Along with accommodating your baby, a large meal can shrink the space in your belly all the more.
  • Baby kicks: When your baby kicks or pushes, you may feel ticklish. But in some cases, due to this, you may also feel a tightening sensation in your belly.

When Should You Consult A Doctor?

Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy

If the tightening sensation gets stronger, then you should seek immediate medical assistance / Image credit: Freepik

If the tightening sensation in your belly continues to grow stronger or if you have a high-risk pregnancy, then you should consult your doctor immediately. Also, seek immediate medical assistance in the following situations.

  • Experiencing a tight feeling in your belly more than four times in an hour.
  • Having difficulty breathing along with a tightening sensation.
  • Experiencing vaginal bleeding, a brownish or watery discharge along with stomach tightening.
  • Perceiving fewer fetal movements than usual.

If you have only a little bit of discomfort in your abdomen, you can try some relaxation techniques to ease the pain.

Helpful Ways To Deal With Stomach Tightening During Pregnancy

If your stomach pain is mild and infrequent, you can follow these measures for relief.

  • Sometimes, dehydration can trigger false contractions. Therefore, make sure to drink 8-10 glasses of water regularly and take adequate rest.
  • Change your position if you are feeling uncomfortable. Try to lie down or move a bit to see if the tightening sensation goes away.
  • Take a warm shower to relax your tired and achy muscles.
  • Make sure to empty your bladder frequently to ease the pressure on your abdominal muscles.
  • Avoid getting up too quickly from your bed or couch. Make sure to take a lateral turn before standing up from a lying position.
  • Have a warm cup of milk or tea to relax and boost your energy levels. 


Stomach tightening during pregnancy is expected and may occur due to various reasons. If you are having mild discomfort, then don’t be alarmed, and try some of the relief measures we discussed above. 

However, at the same time, do not ignore any major bodily changes or pains. If the tightening gets stronger or more frequent with time, consult your healthcare provider immediately. 

Recommended Baby Care Products:

Tummy Relief Roll-On 

Moisturising Natural Baby Sunscreen 

Natural Baby Lotion

Also Read:

Vaginal dryness during pregnancy: Learn the possible causes of vaginal dryness during pregnancy and ways to deal with it.

Breast pain during pregnancy: Here’s how you can ease soreness and discomfort in your breasts during pregnancy.

Baby dropping: What to do when your baby drops into the birth canal? Tap this post to know.

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