Pain on the right side during pregnancy is not unusual or necessarily a cause for concern. However, be on the lookout for other symptoms.
Below, we explore different causes of this pain, safe treatments, and when to seek medical attention.
Pain on or around the right side during pregnancy has many possible causes, and some may not be related to pregnancy.
Some explanations for right side pain during pregnancy include:
Cramps may occur in the first and second trimesters as the womb stretches. Other causes of mild cramping during pregnancy include:
Research shows that constipation occurs in up to 38% of pregnancies. In some cases, this may stem from the iron in prenatal vitamins.
To ease constipation try:
- consuming more bran, whole grain, or a fibrous supplement
- drinking more fluids each day
- exercising a few times a week
- taking over-the-counter products such as Metamucil
However, always check with a medical professional before taking laxatives or stool softeners.
Sexual intercourse may feel different during pregnancy, but it is generally safe. Cramping can sometimes occur during or after sex.
Experiment with positions for comfort. Any post-sex cramping should pass after resting.
Gas and bloating
During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone relaxes the muscles, including those of the intestines, which can lead to stomach and intestinal cramping, gas, and bloating.
Also, foods such as beans, cruciferous vegetables, whole grains, and fried foods can cause excess gas.
Round ligament pain
Round ligament pain is common during pregnancy, and it may feel like sharp cramping on either side of the lower abdomen.
At around 12 weeks of pregnancy, hormonal changes cause the round ligaments, which connect the front of the uterus to the groin, to loosen and become more elastic. In response, the ligaments may spasm, leading to pain in the lower abdomen or groin.
Sudden movement, exercise, or actions such as sneezing, coughing, or rolling over in bed can trigger these spasms.
To ease the pain, try:
- moving slowly and gently to avoid any strain
- taking a warm bath
- putting the feet up and resting
- taking over-the-counter pain relief medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), if a doctor gives the go-ahead
- doing stretching exercises, such as hip flexing or prenatal yoga
According to research, round ligament pain complicates 10–30% of pregnancies. Consult a medical professional if the pain continues for an extended period, or it occurs with any of the following symptoms:
The appendix is a small, pouch-like organ on the right side of the abdomen, and it connects with the large intestine. Appendicitis involves this organ becoming inflamed and filled with pus.
Anyone who may have appendicitis should receive immediate medical care. A clinical team will conduct an ultrasound or MRI to assess whether antibiotic treatment or surgery is the right course of action.
Usually developing in later pregnancy, preeclampsia can be dangerous to the developing fetus and the woman if she does not receive treatment. In some cases, it leads to early delivery.
Doctors usually, but do not always, spot the early signs during antenatal check-ups. These include:
- high blood pressure
- protein in the urine
- a swollen face, hands, or ankles
- nausea, with or without vomiting
- upper abdominal pain near the right side of the ribcage
- blurry vision or a severe headache that does not respond to medication
- difficulty breathing
Preeclampsia occurs in around 1 in 25 pregnancies in the United States. Sometimes, there are no symptoms.
Anyone who may have preeclampsia requires an urgent medical assessment. In many cases, preeclampsia symptoms disappear within a few days of delivery.
Braxton-Hicks contractions are a normal part of pregnancy, and they tend to be uncomfortable rather than painful. They feel like mild menstrual cramps or tightening of the abdomen that comes and goes.
Braxton-Hicks contractions are also known as false labor. They generally occur during the second or third trimester.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more common for women during pregnancy.
They can lead to pain in the lower abdomen and discomfort while urinating. The treatment is typically a course of antibiotics.
For anyone wondering whether abdominal pain during pregnancy indicates a serious health issue, it is important to consider any other symptoms.
If a woman has pain in the abdomen and any of the following symptoms, immediate medical treatment is necessary:
Cramping pain on both sides of the lower abdomen accompanied by bleeding could indicate pregnancy loss. In this case, there may only be slight spotting, or the bleeding may be more extensive
Anyone who may be experiencing pregnancy loss or an ectopic pregnancy should receive medical care right away.
While morning sickness is an expected part of pregnancy, extreme vomiting with right side pain is a cause for concern.
This combination of symptoms could indicate hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe, lasting form of morning sickness that requires treatment in a hospital. The treatment typically involves antinausea medication and steroids.
In addition, frequent vomiting can lead to significant complications, such as dehydration.
Right side pain during pregnancy is generally no cause for concern — just another result of the many physical changes during pregnancy.
But if the pain accompanies bleeding, discharge, severe headaches, or other serious symptoms, it is important to receive medical attention.