Why The Belly Gets Hard In Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time of changes. The mother’s body transforms during those nine months. The uterus will house the baby, for which it will expand its capacity, very noticeable growth that will be reflected in the growth of the belly. On the other hand, the uterus must prepare for the delivery of the baby. This is possible because the uterus is a hollow organ made up of muscle fibers, normally capable of contracting.
When there has been no fertilization the uterus contracts to expel the endometrial tissue every month. In the same way, during pregnancy there will also be contractions, which are the way in which the uterus is trained for the moment of delivery. Sometimes the mother can perceive these contractions because usually a part or the whole belly hardens. Do you wonder why your stomach gets hard in pregnancy? In the following article we explain it to you.
Why does the belly get hard in pregnancy?
Surely, if you are pregnant you have felt that your tummy is tense and even bothers a bit the feeling, although after a while is passed. It is a contraction. When the uterus contracts, during pregnancy, it is normal to feel that the belly becomes hard. The contractions are normal and frequent throughout the gestation process; from the beginning to the end. They usually feel more intense in the first weeks and then in the third trimester. It is also true that some women do not realize this at any time, except during childbirth.
But the contractions are not exclusive of the moment of delivery, they occur throughout the pregnancy and have particular characteristics at each stage. In general, they occur irregularly, without constant frequency. These contractions are not painful but can be a bit annoying when the baby is coming to term. Depending on the intensity, frequency, area covered and the time of pregnancy in which they occur, different types of contractions are distinguished:
- From Álvarez and Caldeyro: also called type A.
- Braxton Hicks: popularly known as false contractions.
- Of childbirth and also if they become very painful or are accompanied by other symptoms can be considered pathological.
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Contractions during the first trimester
Contractions occur throughout pregnancy. In the beginning, when fertilization has just occurred, the uterus, used every month to expel the endometrium, will also try to expel the embryo. At that time contractions occur that will be stopped thanks to the increase in progesterone, which is responsible for the baby nesting in the uterus. This process is called confrontation between the uterus and the embryo.
In general, the baby will nest but in some cases spontaneous abortions occur, which can sometimes go unnoticed. Contractions at this stage should not be painful, in fact they should be almost imperceptible. If they become painful and regular or are accompanied by blood loss, it is likely that the uterus is gaining in its goal of expelling the embryo.
Once the embryo is implanted and the contractions of Álvarez and Caldeyro appear throughout the first half of pregnancy. These are gentle contractions that are often not perceived by the mother and that are felt in the lower part of the belly, the area that goes from the pubis to the navel. They can be presented up to six a day. Visit article 35 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months
Contractions during the third quarter
As the pregnancy progresses, it is likely that the mother perceives better when contractions occur because the belly becomes hard. In this stage, contractions are frequent, although they must remain irregular, sometimes more intense than others but without being painful. It’s about the Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are already the final phase of uterus training for childbirth. In fact, as the end of pregnancy approaches, these contractions become more intense and frequent.
The Braxton-Hicks contractions will finish preparing the uterus for delivery. With each contraction, the uterus, like any muscle, tenses and makes the belly hard. They are like prenatal exercises that also help place the baby. These contractions appear from the sixth month of pregnancy and generally include a part of the belly. They can appear and disappear, but when they become very frequent, more than three in an hour, and pregnancy does not yet reach week 37, it is a warning sign. In that case it will be better to consult with the doctor because it may be a threat of premature birth.
If instead you are close to the estimated date of delivery and contractions are followed and painful you may be in labor so it is also advisable to go to the doctor to assess if the time has come. As the delivery date approaches, the contractions become more intense. These are called antepartum contractions. They indicate that the delivery is about to arrive and its function is to soften and mature the cervix, producing some dilation. These contractions are not yet rhythmic and appear a few days before delivery.
Then, of course, labor contractions arrive, which are regular, increasingly intense and closer to each other. They start with a frequency of 3 to 5 contractions every 10 minutes, and their duration lasts until they reach 60 to 90 seconds. They are very intense and painful and with each one the sensation intensifies until reaching its greater peak in the expulsive. These contractions encompass the entire belly that becomes hard and tense.
What can I do to relieve contractions
As we mentioned before, most of the time irregular contractions throughout pregnancy are normal and should not be a cause for concern. Usually contractions are triggered due to factors, such as:
- A lot of physical activity, including sexual activity, running, walking very fast, getting up quickly or carrying weight.
- Hold the urge to urinate or when dehydrated (pregnant women become dehydrated more easily).
- Situations of psychological stress, either at work or in the family environment.
- Urinary or vaginal infections.
To reduce the number of contractions on many occasions it is enough to change position or rest a little. The mother can also do activities that relax her such as taking a bath or shower, reclining comfortably in an armchair, hydrating herself by drinking water or some soda for the contractions to pass. In case of presenting any symptom of infection it is better to go to the doctor.
When to go to the doctor for contractions
Unfortunately, between 6 and 8% of pregnant women suffer from very strong and painful contractions, which are considered abnormal and which can pose a threat of risk of miscarriage or preterm labor. In those cases it is necessary to consult with the doctor. It is considered an alert sign:
- Feel more than 24 contractions during a day.
- That the contractions last more than 40 to 50 seconds.
- That the contractions do not stop when taking a rest.
You also have to be careful if with any physical effort regular contractions appear or if the contractions are accompanied by bleeding. All these circumstances require the immediate intervention of the doctor who will be able to order rest and medication to stop the delivery if necessary.
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