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Back Pain Center

Causes of Early Abdominal & Back Pain in Early Pregnancy

author image Sarah Harding
Sarah Harding has written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000. She has consulted in various settings and taught courses focused on psychology. Her work has been published by ParentDish, Atkins and other clients. Harding holds a Master of Science in psychology from Capella University and is completing several certificates through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.
Causes of Early Abdominal & Back Pain in Early Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be a pain in the back. Photo Credit: comzeal/iStock/GettyImages

Women can begin experiencing the symptoms of pregnancy within a few weeks of conception. Some of these symptoms may be mild and go unnoticed, but others can be quite obvious.

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Early abdominal pain can be startling, but there are many normal explanations for this symptom. Back pain often begins during the first trimester of pregnancy as well and is usually a healthy symptom of bodily changes. Some serious pregnancy complications can cause both back and abdominal pain.


A miscarriage is most likely to occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, reports the American Pregnancy Association. Warning signs of a miscarriage include mild to severe back pain that is often worse than normal menstrual cramps.

True contractions can occur, which are painful and repeat every five to 20 minutes. Other symptoms include spotting and the passing of tissues from the vagina. Miscarriages cannot be prevented but women should seek medical attention to reduce the risk of infection if tissues remain in the uterus after a miscarriage.

Round Ligament Pain

As the uterus grows to accommodate the fetus and its surrounding fluid, the tissues that connect the uterus to the abdomen and pelvic area can be stretched. This stretching can be painful and is called round ligament pain.

Women may feel this pain after the first few weeks of pregnancy and more commonly toward the end of the first trimester, or at about 14 weeks. Moving, sneezing and even laughing can make the pain worse. Resting or making slow movements can reduce the discomfort.

Posture Change

As the uterus grows, it places stress and strain on the back. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists points out that a woman's center of gravity changes when her stomach gets larger.

This change can make her lean backward or adopt other poor postures that cause soreness in the back. The back muscles can also be strained from the weight of the uterus, but this discomfort is more common later in pregnancy.


Several different hormones increase during pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists describes one hormone, called relaxin, that helps make a woman's ligaments relax for delivery. When this hormone starts surging through a woman's body, she can experience back pain from joints in the body becoming too flexible.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches somewhere other than into the uterine wall. The most common location is the fallopian tube, explains Kids Health. An ectopic pregnancy can't be carried to term. If the egg is allowed to remain in place it can rupture, or separate from its place of attachment, and cause internal bleeding.

A woman may have several warning signs of a rupturing ectopic pregnancy, including pain in the pelvis, abdomen and lower back. Sometimes vaginal bleeding occurs. If rupture occurs and causes internal bleeding, a woman may develop pain in the shoulder and neck and may become dizzy. Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency, even if only the warning signs are present.


Implantation of a fertilized egg occurs about six to 12 days after conception, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Implantation is the process of the fertilized egg attaching to the uterine lining. Some women never notice symptoms of implantation, but other women may have abdominal cramping and spotting.

The cramps will be milder than a menstrual period in most cases and do not last very long. The spotting will also be light and resolve quickly. If a woman does not realize she is pregnant she may assume these to be signs of an upcoming period.

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