A hard belly during pregnancy can be quite normal and can even happen several times a day. Whether this is unusual or even dangerous depends largely on your current week of pregnancy.
Especially if you are pregnant for the first time or the pulling in the abdomen is accompanied by pain, you are probably worried anyway. A hard belly during pregnancy can have many different causes.
Many of them can be easily remedied or avoided in the first place. Especially if the pulling in the abdomen occurs very early in pregnancy and has more the character of exercise contractions, you should have this clarified by your doctor.
In this article you will learn everything about the causes of a hard abdomen in pregnancy and when you should visit the doctor to be on the safe side.
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This Is How A Hard Belly In Pregnancy Manifests Itself
A hard belly in pregnancy can even be seen from the outside in many normal-weight people. The entire uterus hardens for a few minutes, which can feel uncomfortable for you quite often.
If you touch the pregnancy belly in this state, you will notice that it feels hard and firm even from the outside.
Possible fetal movements will probably come to a standstill for the time being while it is hard, because the hard uterus now encloses the baby tightly.
The further your pregnancy progresses, the more clearly you will be able to see the contours of your baby from the outside when your belly is hard.
How Does It Feel When The Pregnancy Belly Becomes Hard?
The short-term hardening of the belly feels relatively uncomfortable for many expectant mothers. A hard belly during pregnancy hinders mobility and creates a strong feeling of tension and pressure.
Some sufferers also report an uncomfortable pulling sensation in the abdomen, especially in the groin or back area.
Very often, a hard belly in pregnancy occurs during the evening hours, when the baby is also more active and exercises its breathing with violent hiccups.
A Hard Belly In Pregnancy Can Be Quite Normal
From SSW 28, that is, in the last trimester, a hard belly in pregnancy is completely normal. These are so-called exercise contractions, which are also called preterm contractions, wild contractions or pregnancy contractions.
They are also known by the medical name Braxton-Hicks contractions. Braxton-Hicks contractions cause some expectant mothers to feel a hard belly.
Other pregnant women feel no more than a slight tugging in the abdomen, and still, others do not notice them at all. The purpose of exercise contractions is to prepare the body for the upcoming birth.
In a sense, this is a workout of the uterus, which contracts during exercise contractions.
Hard Pregnancy Construction Due To Stress?
During pregnancy, your body and mind are subject to numerous changes. In addition, there are the increasing demands of everyday life at work but also in your private life.
If you don’t give yourself the necessary rest in this particular situation, your body may feel compelled to pull the emergency brake.
A high level of stress during pregnancy can cause the abdomen to become hard again and again and lead to unpleasant pulling in the lower abdomen. Here your body wants to signal to you to take a well-deserved break and allow yourself some relaxation.
In addition to psychological stress, too much physical strain can also be the cause of a hard stomach. Carrying heavy shopping baskets or small siblings can quickly exceed the stress limit during pregnancy.
Especially if the hard belly is directly related to the load, you should take this sign seriously and get help .
Ask your partner, friends or family members to relieve you during physical activities, because your body already has a lot to do with pregnancy.
Are Contractions In The Second Trimester Of Pregnancy Dangerous?
A hard belly during pregnancy is not a cause for concern at first. Some mothers observe the hard belly even before SSW29 because the uterus is contracting.
Usually, however, this is not noticed at all until later in the pregnancy. A slight pulling in the abdomen is completely normal. If you are unsure or the contractions are accompanied by severe pain, you should visit your gynecologist to be sure.
He or she will check whether your symptoms are contractions acting on the cervix. If this is the case, you should take it easy for the sake of your baby or go to the hospital for further treatment.
Very often, however, there is no danger even then. Every pregnancy is different and some women simply tend to feel a hard belly relatively early.
These Causes Can Be Responsible For A Hard Pregnancy Belly
Quite a few very active babies themselves cause the belly to become hard. Violent kicking against the uterine wall can cause it to react with hardening. But mechanical stimuli acting on the pregnancy belly can also cause the hard belly.
Many expectant mothers stroke the abdomen or rub it to make contact with the baby. In fact, the uterus may be very sensitive to this, hardening and reacting with sensitive pulling in the abdomen.
In addition, digestive problems can also cause the abdomen to become hard.
As the growing uterus continues to displace the intestines and other digestive organs in the course of pregnancy, digestive problems are very common.
They virtually ensure from the inside that the uterus is stimulated to contract. A diet rich in fiber and sufficient drinking of up to two liters per day is the best prevention here.
Possible causes at a glance.
- Magnesium deficiency.
- Too little to drink.
- Stress or physical overexertion.
- Growth spurts in baby and mom.
- Exercise contractions or Braxton Hicks contractions.
- Rubbing of the abdomen from the outside.
- Clothing too tight.
- Active baby.
How Can Magnesium Help Against A Hard Belly During Pregnancy?
If your belly is often uncomfortably hard, this may also be due to a slight magnesium deficiency. During pregnancy, the muscles of your body are exposed to a constantly increasing load.
Apart from that, you also need additional magnesium because your baby needs it. Finally, it should be noted that the strong growth of the uterus also requires additional magnesium.
This is nothing less than a muscle that also depends on the mineral for its smooth operation. It is therefore not always possible to cover the increasing magnesium requirement through the diet.
As a result of a magnesium deficiency, a hard belly can occur more frequently during pregnancy and lead to pulling in the abdomen.
In this case, your gynecologist can prescribe or recommend a magnesium supplement to compensate for this deficiency and establish smooth muscle activity. There you will also find out how high your daily dose should be in order to avoid the hard belly as much as possible.
For adults, the magnesium requirement is expected to be between 300 to 400 mg. In fact, however, the requirement is higher during pregnancy.
Here, gynecologists and midwives are happy to give specific recommendations on how high the amount of magnesium should be for you during pregnancy.
Do Contractions Make A Hard Pregnancy Belly?
Already from the 34th and 35th week of pregnancy, the so-called sinking contractions can occur, which must be additionally distinguished from the Braxton-Hicks contractions.
During this time, the abdomen has reached its highest FunDus level. The descending contractions now ensure that the baby slides deeper into the pelvis and settles in with the little head ready for birth.
Descending contractions can be noticeable and may be mistaken for normal preterm labor. However, other expectant mothers report period-like pain that accompanies the descending contractions and radiates to the groin area as well as the back.
Symphysis pain can also become very uncomfortable in this context. In many expectant mothers, the cervix also shortens as a result of the contractions.
In this case, physical rest is called for, and heavy objects or smaller siblings should not be carried. As soon as the abdomen has sunk a little, you may regain freedom of movement for a short time.
It will also be easier to eat and breathe because the tummy is now lower down. In fact, you should listen to your increasing natural need for rest, especially in the final stages of your pregnancy.
Where Is The Boundary To Exercise Contractions?
A hard belly in SSW 37 is no reason to worry, because your baby is now mature enough to be born without problems.
However, as the delivery date gets closer, it can become more difficult to determine the difference between the onset of labor and practice contractions. The most important distinguishing feature is that exercise contractions have no effect on the cervix.
Even in painful practice contractions, the cervix does not shorten or open. Your gynecologist can determine if this is the case. Unlike labor contractions, Braxton Hicks contractions occur very irregularly.
A few minutes may pass between them, but they can also last several hours. Sometimes they are accompanied by a significant pulling sensation in the abdomen.
True labor contractions, unlike exercise contractions, are already regular even at the beginning, albeit with a long interval of between seven to ten minutes. So if you are not sure what type of contractions you are dealing with, you should first measure the intervals between them.
Braxton-Hicks contractions are often most noticeable when you are sitting or lying down. As soon as you move, they very often simply disappear again. Labor contractions, on the other hand, would possibly tend to intensify or even make moving more difficult.
When Does A Hard Belly Need To Be Clarified By A Doctor Or In The Hospital?
A hard belly during pregnancy is most likely harmless. Nevertheless, some warning signs should be observed, which make an immediate medical clarification necessary.
If you observe mucus secretions or light bleeding associated with exercise contractions, this may be a sign that labor is beginning and that it is real labor.
Two weeks before the expected delivery date, this is not a cause for concern, but a timely start of labor. The situation is different if you are not yet that far along in your pregnancy, or if your baby was in breech presentation at the last examination.
In this case, you should go to the hospital immediately for further treatment.
How Is A Hard Pregnancy Belly Treated?
In most cases, the contractions that lead to a hard belly during pregnancy are a normal phenomenon. Nevertheless, many mothers worry about the well-being of their baby.
Not all causes that lead to a hard belly can be eliminated. Usually, doctors and midwives treat with magnesium to improve muscle activity and thus the function of the uterus.
In addition, expectant mothers should drink enough, because insufficient fluid intake is a major stress factor for the body. It is also recommended not to wear constricting clothing on the abdomen, so as not to stimulate it to contract.
Even if it is difficult, the belly should not be rubbed often, because this can also lead to a hard belly.