Why does the belly get hard in pregnancy?

A sign that worries many women in their first pregnancy is the feeling of a swollen and hard belly on certain occasions. This phenomenon has a simple explanation and is not a cause for alarm, unless it is accompanied by severe pain or bleeding. In that case, you need to see a doctor. 

Most of the women experience in pregnancy the tummy hard continuously. This can be a sign of concern, especially for first-time mothers, as this sensation can be felt from the beginning of pregnancy and can make you think that something is wrong with your baby.

But, it is not necessary to worry right away, since in each trimester of pregnancy the gut can be stressed for various reasons. For this reason, we are going to explain the origin of hardening and the signs that can indicate a risk situation so that you can act quickly.

Hard belly in early pregnancy

From the first trimester of pregnancy it is completely normal to feel a tension in the lower part of the abdomen and even notice a hard lump on one side of the abdomen. The reason seems very obvious, since in the first three months of pregnancy the uterus, which is a muscle, begins to grow, preparing to accommodate the fetus that will increase in size week by week.

In some women it may happen that said hardening is not perceived, but in the thinnest the tension may be more noticeable. At this stage there is no need to worry, unless the hard gut is accompanied by severe pain or bleeding. If this happens, do not hesitate to go to the doctor quickly to find out what is happening with your pregnancy. 

Hard gut in the second trimester of pregnancy

From the fourth month of pregnancy, the growth of the abdomen is more noticeable while, later, in the 5-month-old belly, the uterus has already grown until it reaches the middle of the navel. 

At this stage, the uterus begins to make more frequent movements, known as Braxton Hicks contractions in which the muscle is exercised for the moment of expulsion of the baby. Feeling the belly hard in these months and perceiving the contractions does not mean that you will have a premature birth, it is just your body preparing for the moment of delivery.

It should be taken into account that during this trimester the fetus grows considerably, so its movements are perceived more frequently and it is normal for the belly to also harden while the fetus moves .

the final stretch

Entering the last trimester of pregnancy, it seems that the belly is hard all day, and at times it can be, since Braxton Hicks contractions occur more frequently and with greater intensity. Still, they are not real contractions, because they are not painful, so you should not be alarmed.

Similarly, the tension in the belly can be accompanied by pain in the crotch or groin, as the ligaments in this area are involved. On the other hand, it is normal that at night, when lying on your side, you feel that your belly gets harder on that side, which can cause you slight discomfort. To lessen it, you can use a nursing pillow (check this link for some purchase options) when you lie down to relieve the pressure. 

It also often happens that if you have a viral condition or a vaginal infection, your belly feels harder on those days, but with timely treatment, indicated by your doctor, the symptoms subside and your belly will be softer again.

aware of sensations

From the moment you know you are pregnant your maternal instinct is activated to be attentive to any change in your body. That is why you become more aware of the sensations in each part of you and any movement you feel between the belly and the abdomen sets off alarms. 

This is normal and happens to most, if not all, pregnant women. It is not necessary to call the doctor or go to the hospital because your belly feels hard in pregnancy. We have already explained that this tension is the product of the preparation of the uterus to house a fetus that will grow each week, increasing in size and weight. In addition to the preparation that this muscle needs to become stronger and meet all the demands at the time of delivery. 

You can manage all these sensations with relaxation techniques for pregnant women , a bath with warm water, an aromatherapy session, among other tools that help you calm anxiety. Also, changing your position when you lie down can also help relieve tension in your belly.

One action you should avoid is excessively stroking your belly when you feel it is hard, as this stimulates the uterine fibers to accelerate contraction, even when it is not the time of delivery and can be counterproductive, despite the fact that it is a relaxing feeling. 

warning signs

Now, if the contractions that you considered normal and that fit into the Braxton Hicks category become more frequent, reaching up to four in just one hour, accompanied by pain, perhaps it is time to go to the doctor. 

Likewise, if there are other signs of labor such as the loss of the mucous plug, amniotic fluid or blood stains, do not hesitate to go to the hospital to be checked and verify if you have entered labor.

If you want to have a vaginal delivery you should know that with the intensity of the contractions your belly will get harder, so don’t despair, because it’s time to stay calm, take a deep breath and pay attention to the frequency of the contractions. Well, in a short time the wait will be over and you will finally have your baby in your arms. 

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