Early Pregnancy: Implantation Cramping
Pregnancy is a wild ride. Growing a human can cause all sorts of expected and sometimes unexpected side effects. Brain fog, growing feet, and yeast infections are just a few of the fun things that can come along with your changing body.
Those tend to happen later on in pregnancy, but what about early days? A lot of people don’t know that they’re pregnant until they miss their period, or sometimes even later. But some people notice the very early signs of pregnancy, one being implantation cramping.
Wondering what’s going on in your body, or if you might be pregnant? Hopefully we can shed some light on what’s happening (or not happening) in your uterus.
What Is Implantation Cramping?
Unlike period cramps, implantation cramps only occur at the beginning of pregnancy, versus every month or so. They are also caused by different things, period cramps happen when the uterus is working hard to release its lining.
During ovulation, an egg stays in your fallopian tubes with the goal of being fertilized. If sperm happens to make it in there, then the egg becomes fertilized, turning into a zygote. This zygote then traveled down into the uterus where it develops into a blastocyst.
Implantation cramps occur when this blastocyst, or fertilized egg, attaches itself to the lining of the uterus, getting ready to cozy up for the next nine months. Once implantation occurs, the body is already starting to grow the placenta.
When do you experience implantation cramping? Typically implantation occurs 6 to 12 days after ovulation, or around when you would have your period.
Not everyone experiences cramping during implantation. About 30% of people who have been pregnant report having implantation cramping.
Do Implantation Cramps Hurt?
There’s a difference between cramps and pain. Cramping can feel like a twinging or slight discomfort, but they aren’t necessarily painful. That being said, implantation cramps are sometimes painful for some people.
Most people report implantation cramping to be mild or moderate with a tingling, pulling, or pricking sensation. That being said, no one wants to feel discomfort or pain.
What do you do about implantation cramping? It’s important to avoid anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin around the time of conception as they can temporarily increase the risk of miscarriage. You can try resting, using a heat pack or warm compress, or taking a warm bath or shower.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical care:
- Intense cramping or pain (not your period)
- Heavy bleeding
- Pain or pressure in your chest
- Dizziness or loss of consciousness
- If you think you may be having a miscarriage
Other Signs You May Be Pregnant
Implantation cramping isn’t the only early hint that you might have a bun in the oven.
Here are some other early signs that you may be pregnant:
- Raised body temperature
- Feeling emotional
- Food cravings
- Tender or swollen breasts
- Light bleeding or spotting
- Sensitivity to smells and tastes
- Morning sickness
A lot of the symptoms of early pregnancy can also be symptoms of PMS, so it can be confusing to tell exactly what’s going on in your body until a bit later on.
If you have had a combination of these symptoms with or without cramps, it may be time to take a pregnancy test, especially if you’ve missed your period. Depending on the test, pregnancy can usually be detected around the first day of your missed period, when human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormones are high enough.
If you’ve experienced difficulties with fertility, it’s normal to look for every possible sign that you may be pregnant, including cramping. If you can relate to this, know that there’s nothing wrong with having these feelings, hopes, and expectations.
You might be wondering if implantation cramping is normal for people undergoing IVF treatment. While it can happen for some, cramping can also be a side effect of the hormones and treatments themselves, and it’s probably best not to read too far into them – although we totally understand that this is natural.
We’re sending you our support. This can be an incredibly difficult journey to navigate, and you deserve all the love and support you can get. This can come from your partner, friends, family, loved ones, or a professional like a therapist.
We also understand that not every pregnancy is wanted, or able to be kept. That’s why it’s important to know your abortion options, and the status of abortion where you live.
If you are pregnant and plan on continuing with the pregnancy, you may be wondering how to prepare and what else is going on with your body. While you’re brushing up on pregnancy terms A to Z, you might also want to look into if you need prenatal vitamins, working out during pregnancy, and what on earth is a doula (and why you might want one).
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.