When you first get pregnant, there are so many symptoms and emotions swirling around, sometimes you just want to know what’s going on in there. And since every pregnancy is different, what is considered normal? During the early weeks of pregnancy, you may feel a fluttering in your abdomen that's almost like a tugging or pinching feeling. But what causes a pinching feeling in your uterus during early pregnancy? Obviously, since the baby doesn’t have hands or fingers yet, it can’t possibly be your little one pulling on your insides.
According to Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB-GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, “tugging” or "pinching" is another word for “cramping,” and the feeling is just your uterus cramping. “The pre-pregnancy uterus is a ‘pear sized’ organ that begins to grow very early in pregnancy. As the uterus grows, along with all the hormonal changes, there is a noticeable tugging sensation. It is a completely normal early sign of pregnancy,” she says in an email interview.
When does this tugging feeling happen for most women? Ross says it can happen as early as five or six weeks from your last period, and some women feel it throughout their first 13 weeks of pregnancy. However, if you’re feeling it during the second trimester, it could be ligament pain, according to Ross. “...lower abdominal pain is called round ligament pain, which is associated with the uterus growing,” she says.
If this pinching or tugging feeling is accompanied by spotting or bleeding, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad is happening — it could just be implantation bleeding, when the embryo is implanting itself in your uterine lining. “This type of expected bleeding happens six to 12 days after conception (day 24 to 26 of your cycle) and can often be mistaken for a period since it’s around the time you would expect your next period,” Ross says. “It is often the very first sign of pregnancy, [and] the type of bleeding is classically light red, brown, or pinkish. Implantation bleeding typically lasts for two to seven days.”
But not all women have this tugging feeling at all, and thankfully, experiencing that tugging feeling “isn’t a prerequisite to a healthy pregnancy,” Ross says.
There’s usually nothing to worry about if you feel a tugging sensation in your abdomen in the early stages — just wait until you graduate to the big leagues and your baby begins kicking your cervix or your bladder at all hours of the day and night. Enjoy those “flutters” while you can.