Is Cramping at 18 Weeks Normal?

Reviewed on 4/11/2022
Is cramping at 18 weeks normal?
Cramping may occur at 18 weeks, during the second trimester of pregnancy, which is considered normal.

The second trimester of pregnancy is weeks 13 through 26 when the baby continues to grow and develop rapidly. The mother will notice a number of changes during this time.

Cramping may occur at 18 weeks, during the second trimester, and is normal.

Common causes of cramping during pregnancy may include:

  • Round ligament pain
    • The round ligament supports the uterus
    • When the uterus expands, it causes the round ligament to stretch, which can cause cramps
  • False labor (Braxton-Hicks contractions) 
    • Cramps can occur at irregular intervals in preparation for childbirth
  • Constipation
  • Gas/bloating
  • Sexual intercourse/orgasm

When Should I Worry About Cramping at 18 Weeks?

Serious causes of cramping at 18 weeks or any time during pregnancy include:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Ectopic pregnancy 
    • Is usually a problem earlier in pregnancy when a fertilized egg implants outside a uterus
    • Causes painful cramps
    • A serious condition that requires treatment
  • Miscarriage
    • Cramping may range from mild to sharp and be accompanied by vaginal spotting
    • Contact your doctor immediately if you experience severe cramps and/or heavy bleeding
  • Preeclampsia
    • A serious complication of pregnancy in which high blood pressure (hypertension), protein in the urine, and evidence of organ injury develops in a pregnant woman after 20 weeks of pregnancy
    • Can cause pain and cramping in the upper abdomen
  • Preterm labor
    • Cramping before 37 weeks gestation may be a sign of preterm labor
  • Placental abruption
    • Occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus before the baby is born
    • Cramping is painful and does not go away
    • A potentially life-threatening condition
    • Contact your doctor immediately if this occurs

Contact your doctor if you experience cramping at 18 weeks or any time during pregnancy characterized by: 

  • Severe pain that does not go away
  • Lower abdominal pain accompanied by contractions
  • Vaginal cramping
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Cramping, along with pain in the shoulder and/or neck
  • A sudden increase in thirst, accompanied by a decrease in urination, or no urination for an entire day
  • Severe headache that does not go away, sudden swelling, changes in vision, or unexplained weight gain (symptoms of preeclampsia)
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Pain or burning during urination, difficulty urinating, or blood in the urine
  • More than four contractions an hour, which may be a sign of labor 

Call 911 or go to a hospital’s emergency department if you experience cramping at 18 weeks or any time during pregnancy accompanied by: 

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Reviewed on 4/11/2022
Image Source: iStock Images