With the 5 week of pregnancy begins the embryonic period. It is the time when the structures and body systems begin to develop like the spinal cord, brain and heart. By this time, the heartbeat of your baby becomes steady. The placenta also starts forming. The pace of embryo development hastens but it is still very small at this point. It is believed that the baby is just 3 mm long.
Your body is preparing for big changes as the pregnancy hormone levels increase and the uterus starts expanding. You don’t have that pregnancy bump right now but you will begin to go through the symptoms by the fifth week. The entire roller coaster ride of pregnancy including pregnancy confirmation, fatigue, morning sickness, growing baby bump, constipation, sensitivity to smell, nausea, breast enlargement, contractions and all the way to the last stage of labor is a difficult yet a joyous journey.
Even though you might be prepared for the arrival of your baby but accept it you never are completely prepared for all the body changes you go through. At times you might be confused whether it is pre-menstrual symptoms or pregnancy symptoms.
This happens because many of the early pregnancy signs including the 5 weeks of pregnancy are quiet similar to menstrual periods like nausea, cramps and lower back ache.
Should you be worried if you experience 5 weeks pregnant cramps?
Cramping is nothing abnormal. It is very normal for many women to experience cramping in their entire course of pregnancy. Pregnant mothers often confide in each other regarding the pregnancy symptoms particularly regarding 5 weeks pregnant cramps. They even feel pain while having intercourse.
You don’t have to get all worried and worked up if you are experience cramping as it is something very normal. However, if it is accompanied by bleeding or severe pain, then it is a matter of concern. You should definitely go see a gynecologist in that case.
During the early stages of your pregnancy, the progesterone level increases drastically and you will experience various physical changes. It gears you up to bear the child and helps you deliver it successfully. Progesterone thickens the uterine lining so that the egg can implant itself there.
By the sixth week, the increase in the level of progesterone hormone starts the growth of uterine blood vessels which plays a vital role of providing nourishment to the embryo. This way the uterus starts expanding making the muscles and ligaments stretch. This results in cramping.
Normal Causes of Pregnant Cramps
Whether you experience severe or mild cramps, it is a difficult part to bear for every woman. The new moms easily get worried when they face cramps as they think of it as a sign of miscarriage (a horrifying thought indeed!). There is nothing wrong in experiencing cramps. Problem arises if it comes with bleeding. Some of the normal reasons for having cramps during your pregnancy are:
1. Hormonal Changes
As soon as the egg gets fertilized and the woman is pregnant, her body goes through various hormonal changes. Hormones like human placental lactogen, human chorionic gonadotrophin, estrogen and progesterone are released that play a key role in your pregnancy and menstrual cycle. The levels of all these hormones increase significantly during the early stages resulting in cramps.
2. Constipation and Gas
Constipation is commonly experienced by pregnant ladies. The pregnancy hormones relax the muscles and slow down the movement of food causing constipation. Gas and bloating is also a common issue during pregnancy and even periods. Gas is wrongly considered as pregnancy cramps. High levels of progesterone results in a gas build up in pregnant ladies. The relaxation of muscles caused by progesterone results in accumulation of gas which causes bloating and flatulence. This is mistaken as cramps.
3. Uterus expansion
It is in the early stage of pregnancy that the uterine lining thickens and the uterus enlarges to offer space to the growing baby. When this expansion happens, the uterine muscles and the round ligaments in it stretch which causes cramps. Cramps can also be felt when the baby makes sudden movements.
4. Implantation cramping
Pregnancy symptoms for each woman are different. Not every woman experience implantation cramping. Implantation cramping is experienced when the fertilized egg implants itself. Implantation cramps are not severe and are nothing to worry about. You will experience it in the lower abdominal region particularly in the area the fertilized egg embeds itself to wall of uterus.
Serious Causes of Pregnant Cramps
There is a reason why women who are pregnant for the first time get alarmed when they experience cramps. They get worried because they know it is a sign of a miscarriage as well. While 5 week or 6 weeks pregnant cramps are absolutely normal, they can be a sign of miscarriage. If miscarriage is the reason, you are likely to experience mild cramping by the 4th week and extremely painful cramps by the 5th and 6th week.
In case of a miscarriage you are going to notice spotting initially but you need to keep in mind vaginal bleeding is not always because of an impending miscarriage. Many women experience spotting in the first trimester and it doesn’t mean they are going to have a miscarriage.
The most common signs you are going to notice if it is a miscarriage are stomach ache, pelvic cramps, lower back ache, ectopic pregnancy and vaginal bleeding. It begins with vaginal bleeding, after which you will experience abdominal pain which usually occurs on the left side. The pain is a dull aching pain that radiates to the pelvis and lower back. The fact remains 15% to 20% pregnancies end up in miscarriage.
5. Ectopic pregnancy
While mild cramping is counted among the most common symptom of early pregnancy, but if you are facing severe cramping with no period, then that could indicate an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy can cause lower abdominal pain. Ectopic pregnancy is a serious condition in which fertilized egg cannot leave the fallopian tube, but it keeps growing. This means the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus. This causes sharp pain.
Most of the time women are unable to distinguish between pain caused by ectopic pregnancy and normal pregnancy. Other symptoms apart from severe pain that should be taken notice of are frequent urination, nausea, vaginal bleeding, breast tenderness and vomiting. You will be able to notice these symptoms two weeks after a missed period and later on you might experience vaginal bleeding that could be wrongly thought of as spotting.
7. Urinary Tract Infection
Pregnancy makes pregnant moms more prone to developing Urinary Tract Infection (UTIs). Some of the symptoms of bladder infection consist of burning sensation with urination, back pain, pelvic discomfort and abdominal cramps, often accompanied by fever.
Leaving it untreated may cause preterm labor and kidney infection. The symptoms of which include chills, lower backache, high fever, shivers, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, nausea, and urine with pus or blood.
When to See a Doctor
Keep checking for the following symptoms and call your doctor:
- Severe bleeding
- Severe pain
- High fever and chills
- Difficulty in urinating
- Difficulty in walking
- Your vaginal discharge contains pink or grey clots
- Bleeding that absorbs up to 2 to 3 pads in an hour
- Bleeding for three continuous days followed by cramps
- Pain that does not subside even after taking rest
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