What Do Early Pregnancy Cramps Feel Like? Am I Confused?

What Do Early Pregnancy Cramps Feel Like? Am I Confused?

It is normal to get confused between period and pregnancy cramps since both feel like normal cramping with some abdominal pain. However, luckily, there are a few ways you can find out whether your cramps are because of your period or if you are having your first trimester cramps.

Usually, pregnancy cramps feel like normal cramps during the first two trimesters of pregnancy and are accompanied by some light bleeding during the first pregnancy week. These can be a few minutes long or can go on for a few hours. You can try taking a warm bath at night or try to place a warm bottle on your abdomen area to reduce the pain a little. You must educate yourself on other types of pregnancy cramping pains too, not just early pregnancy cramping.

What Early Pregnancy Cramps Actually Are?

Early pregnancy cramping is the feeling of mild cramps that some women experience during the early stages of pregnancy. These cramps usually happen around the time when the fertilized egg becomes implanted. This generally happens after 6-12 days of conception.

All types of cramping during early pregnancy are normal. If someone experiences severe or persistent cramps followed by heavy bleeding, fever, dizziness, or shoulder pain, this indicates a more serious condition, such as an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage. If you experience even one of the above-mentioned symptoms, immediately consult a healthcare provider for proper evaluation and guidance.

How Do I Know If It’s Early Pregnancy Cramps?

Determining whether cramps are because of early pregnancy or some other reason is not an easy task, mostly because many other health issues have the same painful cramps. However, the following are some factors you can use to help you differentiate early pregnancy cramps from other types of cramps:

The timing

Early pregnancy cramps mostly happen around the time of implantation, which is typically 6 to 12 days after conception. If you have cramps during this timeframe and are sexually active without using contraception, there is a good chance that your cramps are due to pregnancy.

The character of pain

Early pregnancy cramps are generally mild and feel a lot like menstrual cramps. They usually come and go, and the pain is often described as dull and achy rather than sharp or severe.

Pregnancy symptoms

If your cramps are happening because of pregnancy, you will probably be having other pregnancy symptoms too. See if you have any pregnancy signs like breast tenderness, fatigue, nausea, increased urination, and, most importantly, a missed period. If you experience any one or worse, a combination of these symptoms, you are probably going through early pregnancy cramping.

Pregnancy test

The most surefire way to confirm if you are pregnant or not is simply to go for a pregnancy test. You can get the home pregnancy test or simply go for a medical one to be 100% sure of whether or not you are pregnant. If you have been having cramps and think that you may be pregnant, going for a pregnancy test after a missed period or as directed by the instructions on the test can help confirm whether you are one of the pregnant people or not.

Keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different, and the presence or absence of these symptoms does not necessarily point toward pregnancy.

What Is The Difference Between Period Cramps And Pregnancy Cramps?

Differentiating between period cramps and pregnancy cramps can be challenging since the symptoms are quite similar in both. However, there are some major key differences that can help you distinguish between the two:

The timing

Period cramps happen either just before or during your periods and sometimes right after your periods too. Pregnancy cramps, on the other hand, occur around the time of implantation, which is usually 6 to 12 days after conception. If you get cramps outside of your usual menstrual cycle, they are probably pregnancy-related.

The intensity

Period cramps can vary in intensity, but they are usually more intense and severe compared to pregnancy cramps. Early pregnancy cramps are usually milder and may feel like mild to moderate discomfort or twinges.


Period cramps usually last for a few days, while pregnancy cramps can come and go and may last for a shorter duration. Pregnancy cramps are generally not that long and last for a few minutes, but they could go up to a couple of days too.


Period cramps are usually accompanied by menstrual bleeding. If you experience cramps along with bleeding that is consistent with your usual period, it is more likely to be related to menstruation. On the other hand, pregnancy cramps may be accompanied by light spotting or implantation bleeding, which is usually much lighter and shorter than a regular period.

Some other symptoms

Period cramps are often accompanied by other menstrual symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, and mood swings. Pregnancy cramps may be accompanied by other early pregnancy symptoms such as breast tenderness, fatigue, nausea, increased urination, and a missed period.

Everyone’s experience is different, and the presence or absence of these symptoms may vary. If there is anything bothering you regarding your symptoms or you are unsure, it’s best to consult a proper healthcare provider for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

Does Early Pregnancy Cramps Feel Like Period Coming?

Cramping in early pregnancy can feel like you this is a sign of your period about to make an entrance. Many women have reported that their early pregnancy cramps felt like their pre-period cramps in terms of intensity and overall discomfort. If you get cramps, wait a couple of days to see if your cramps continue or go away. If the cramps are due to periods, you will probably get your period in a few days. If you don’t get your period, but the cramps continue, get a pregnancy test.

What Causes Early Pregnancy Cramps?

The exact cause of early pregnancy cramps is not yet known, but they are widely believed to be associated with the process of implantation and hormonal changes occurring during early pregnancy. Here are some factors that contribute to early pregnancy cramps:

Implantation and early pregnancy cramping

Early pregnancy cramps often occur around the time of implantation, as mentioned before. As the embryo grows into the uterine lining, it can cause mild irritation and stretching, which cause implantation cramping in early pregnancy.


Your hormones are all taking part in a dance party when you get pregnant, especially your progesterone levels. These hormonal changes happen all over your body and, for obvious reasons, affect your muscles and ligaments, which can bring about cramping.

Uterine growth

As the pregnancy progresses, the uterus starts to expand to make sure there is enough room for the growing fetus. This growth can cause stretching and mild cramping sensations in the early stages of pregnancy.

You need to be aware that all cramping during early pregnancy is not normal. Severe or persistent cramps accompanied by heavy vaginal bleeding, fever, dizziness, or shoulder pain may indicate a more serious condition like an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage. 

What Kind Of Cramps Indicate Pregnancy?

What Kind Of Cramps Indicate Pregnancy

Cramps alone are not a 100% sure indication of pregnancy, as they can be caused by various factors. However, certain types of cramps may suggest the possibility of pregnancy. These include:

Implantation cramping

These are mild cramping sensations that some women experience when implantation happens. These cramps are described by most as similar to menstrual cramps but milder. They could also show up with a little bit of spotting.

Early pregnancy cramps

In the early days of pregnancy, many women have mild cramps as the uterus undergoes changes and grows to make room for the growing fetus. These cramps can also be easy to confuse with menstrual cramps but are generally milder and shorter in duration.

Round ligament pain

As the pregnancy progresses, the ligaments supporting the uterus, known as the round ligaments, stretch and thicken. This can cause occasional sharp abdominal cramping or groin pains, typically on one side. Round ligament pain is more commonly experienced during the second trimester, but this can happen at any time.

How Long Do Early Pregnancy Cramps Start?

Early pregnancy cramps can start as early as 6 to 12 days after conception, which is usually around the time of implantation. Cramping during this period is commonly referred to as implantation cramps.

These cramps are much milder and last for either a few minutes to sometimes a few days. They come and go, and the intensity can vary based on your health conditions, hormones, and environment.

Note that every woman’s experience will be her own, and not all women will have cramping during early pregnancy. Some women might have severe cramping, while others may have very mild or no cramping at all.

How To Relive Pregnancy Cramps?

As common as it is for some women to experience mild cramps during early pregnancy, that is no reason that you should not want to ease the pain. There are a few effective strategies that have been shown to help alleviate or relieve these cramps. However, note that if you experience severe or persistent cramps or if you have any concerns, don’t try home remedies and get in touch with your midwife or doctor.

1. Rest as much as possible

Take time to rest and relax. Don’t overexert yourself, and allow your body to rest when needed. Try some relaxation techniques, the most common ones of which are deep breathing exercises, meditation, or gentle stretches to help relieve tension and promote relaxation.

2. Use some warmth

Try putting a heating pad or a microwaved sock filled with rice on your lower belly area to help relax the muscles and provide some relief from cramping. You must make sure that the pad is not too hot and limit the duration of heat application to prevent overheating.

3. Stay hydrated

Drinking water throughout the day without going overboard can help prevent dehydration. Try to drink at least 8 glasses every single day or more if recommended by your healthcare provider.

4. Gentle exercise

Try some gentle exercises, like walking or prenatal yoga, because these can help improve circulation, promote relaxation, and relieve cramping. Get on a call with your healthcare provider beforehand, because even a little extra pressure is not advised by both professionals and basically everyone who has gone through pregnancy.

5. Change positions

If you are experiencing cramps, changing your position can help get rid of some discomfort like lying down, sitting, or walking, to find what works best for you.

6. Over-the-counter pain relief

In some cases, your doctor might prescribe the use of over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help alleviate mild cramping. However, you must consult with your healthcare provider beforehand because one wrong medicine can potentially be disastrous for you and your baby.

7. Supportive garments

Wearing supportive garments, such as a belly band or maternity support belt, may help relieve pressure on the abdomen and provide some relief from cramping.

8. Practice good posture

Maintaining a good posture can make a huge difference o the constant pressure you feel on the muscles and reduce cramping. Make sure that you keep a proper posture, and consider using pillows or cushions for added support.

9. Pelvic tilt exercises

Pelvic tilt exercises involve gently tilting the pelvis back and forth while standing or on all fours. These exercises can help relieve lower back pain and cramping during pregnancy. Consult with a prenatal exercise specialist or your healthcare provider for guidance on performing pelvic tilt exercises safely.

10. Consult your healthcare provider

If your lower abdomen cramps are severe or persistent, or you notice any other abnormal symptoms, it is important to consult your healthcare provider.

What works for one woman can very well not work for the others. It is extremely important that you stay alert about what your body needs, prioritize self-care, and seek medical advice when needed.

Bottom Line

Pregnancy is a very important and delicate time for the mother. Cramps during pregnancy are not uncommon, but they can happen due to many other reasons and medical conditions, like urinary tract infections or miscarriages. Only a positive pregnancy test will show whether or not you are pregnant, and you must get the test done ASAP so not only do you know if you actually are pregnant, but in case if you get a positive result, you can make sure to prepare for the journey ahead toward a healthy pregnancy.