Sharp Abdominal Pain

Pregnancy can bring its own unique sets of aches and pains. From back pains as your baby grows to abdominal gas pains, it’s tough to know what pains are part of pregnancy and what you should worry more about. This is true for abdominal pains that can cause you an unexpected amount of pain and discomfort.

sharp abdominal pain

When you experience sharp abdominal pain, there are a few questions to ask yourself about the nature and particular causes of the pain. However, there are some “absolute” symptoms that indicate you need to call you obstetrician and possible seek emergency medical care. These symptoms include:

  • Bleeding
  • Feeling faint
  • Losing consciousness
  • Pain that is getting worse instead of better with rest
  • Uncontrolled nausea and/or vomiting

Possible Causes of Sharp Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

Sharp abdominal pain can indicate several different conditions while you’re pregnant. Some of them are mild and will likely quickly subside while others are severe and could constitute a medical emergency. Here are some examples:

Gas and Bloating

Hormones associated with pregnancy and your growing uterus can place extra pressure on your stomach and intestines, slowing digestion time. This can increase the incidence of gas and bloating. Unfortunately, this can result in gas and bloating, even if you’ve never experienced these symptoms before. This can become serious if you haven’t had a bowel movement in several days. Talk to your doctor about extreme gas and bloating.


If you are less than 20 weeks pregnant, sharp abdominal pain could potentially indicate a miscarriage. Additional symptoms could include vaginal bleeding and pressure in the pelvis.


Preeclampsia is a serious medical condition that causes your blood pressure to be very high, and can lead to severe and potentially deadly consequences, including seizures. Pain and tenderness in the upper abdomen is a symptom as is swelling in the face or around the eyes, swelling in the feet or ankles, difficulty seeing well, nausea, and/or vomiting.

Preterm Labor

If you are before 37 weeks of pregnancy, sharp abdominal pains could indicate preterm labor. This means your body is attempting to deliver your baby. Additional symptoms include bleeding and/or vaginal discharge, low back pain, menstrual-like cramping, and more than five contractions in an hour. Always call your obstetrician if you think you may be experiencing pre-term labor.

Round Ligament Pain

The round ligaments are located in your pelvis and will start to stretch in your second trimester and beyond to accommodate your growing baby. Round ligament pain can cause sharp, jabbing pains, most often when you’re changing positions. This can include rolling over in bed, getting out of the car, or getting up from a chair. They can also result in dull, aching pains after a long day of activity.

Urinary Tract Infection

Pregnancy can increase the likelihood you’ll experience a urinary tract infection (UTI). This causes abdominal and pelvic pain. Other symptoms include frequent urge to urinate (which is also a pregnancy symptom), foul-smelling urine, or blood in the urine. Because a UTI can worsen and potentially cause premature labor, it’s important to treat a UTI as quickly as possible.

Appendicitis, food poisoning, kidney stones, and gallbladder disease are also potential causes of sharp abdominal pains during pregnancy. If you have concerns or questions about abdominal pain, it’s a safe plan to go ahead and call your physician to ensure you shouldn’t seek medical care.