If you are pregnant, you have probably noticed that sometimes the belly becomes hard or tight, even from the first weeks of pregnancy. Many women are scared when it happens, since sometimes this sensation is accompanied by pain or discomfort.
We will tell you why the belly becomes hard in pregnancy or contractions occur, something absolutely normal during pregnancy. Depending on the moment in which they occur, their function is different and they cause different sensations.
In the first trimester
It is possible that in the first trimester you notice tension in the lower abdomen or sometimes a kind of hard lump on one side of the abdomen.
It is because the uterus begins to stretch to house the baby that grows inside you, making small contractions. As long as these contractions of the uterus are not accompanied by severe pain (which could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy ) or blood loss , there is nothing to worry about.
From the second trimester
The uterus is a muscle that constantly grows during pregnancy until it multiplies several times its size. Towards the end of the pregnancy it will have the function of helping to expel the baby so that it can be born. To do this, he performs some practices or what are known as Braxton Kicks contractions or “false contractions” , with which the uterus prepares for the moment of labor, and that are different from true labor contractions.
Starting in the second half of pregnancy, you will begin to notice contractions more frequently as pregnancy progresses. Some women do not realize it or experience pain, while for others it is quite annoying.
They are especially painful and uncomfortable if they are produced by the movements of the baby inside the uterus , causing the belly to acquire very curious shapes : for example, in the form of a peak, a wave or completely displaced to one side.
Sometimes, when the stomach tightens, you may also feel pain in the groin or crotch as the ligaments in this area are also involved.
You may especially notice that your belly becomes hard at night when you are lying down and calm and you are more aware of the sensations of your body.
At the end of the third trimester
Towards the end of pregnancy, a week or two before giving birth, Braxton Hicks contractions become more intense, and can occur rhythmically but not regularly. That is, there may be three or four contractions with discomfort and sometimes even pain at similar but intermittent intervals. It is not increasing its intensity, nor its duration, nor its frequency.
These contractions are known as antepartum (or prodrome of labor) contractions. They are annoying, but they are not rhythmic or regular and their function is to erase and soften the cervix prior to dilation. If you change position, rest, walk or take a relaxing bath, the contractions disappear or are relieved.
In contrast, true labor contractions are increasing in intensity (between 30 mmHg and 50 mmHg), occurring every regular periods with a frequency of 3 to 5 contractions every 10 minutes. Its duration is also increasing. When you are in labor, there are at least 2 or 3 intense contractions lasting approximately 40 to 60 seconds every 10 minutes.