Causes of lower right abdominal pain during pregnancy

Just when you think everything is going along well in your pregnancy, you get a stab of sharp pain in your lower right abdomen. What does it mean? Is it normal or is it a sign of something serious? Although lower right abdominal pain can be normal during pregnancy, it also could indicate a range of potentially life-threatening health conditions.

Ectopic pregnancy

During the first trimester of your pregnancy, lower right abdominal pain may indicate a ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilised egg attaches in a location outside of your uterus. Symptoms that accompany an ectopic pregnancy include stabbing pain in your abdomen, vaginal bleeding and discharge, as well as weakness, dizziness and nausea. Typically, an ectopic pregnancy that attaches in your right Fallopian tube is more likely to cause lower right abdominal pain than other types of ectopic pregnancies. If you experience these symptoms, seek emergency care immediately since this is a potentially life-threatening condition.

Round ligament stretching

Stretching of your round ligament is a normal cause of lower right abdominal pain that frequently occurs during pregnancy. A ligament that supports your uterus, the round ligament stretches during pregnancy as a result of pregnancy hormones and the increasing size of your growing baby. According to the Babycentre website, sharp pain on one or both sides of your abdomen characterises round ligament stretching, which is you might feel getting out the bath, when you cough or getting up from a bed or chair.

Urinary tract infection

Increased weight from your uterus makes you more likely to experience a urinary tract infection, or bladder infection, during pregnancy. Caused by bacteria, a urinary tract infection occurs most frequently between week 6 and week 24 of your pregnancy. In addition, pain that can occur in any area of your lower abdomen, symptoms of a urinary tract infection include cloudy or foul-smelling urine, increased need to urinate and blood-tinged urine. Fever, nausea, chills and vomiting indicate that the infection has spread to your kidneys and requires immediate medical treatment.


Appendicitis occurs in up to one out of every 1000 pregnant women. Appendicitis occurs when your appendix gets inflamed and becomes filled with pus. Pain associated with appendicitis during pregnancy often occurs in the area of your belly button and then shifts to your lower right abdomen 1. Other symptoms of appendicitis during pregnancy include tenderness in your lower right abdomen, nausea, a gradual increase in the pain intensity, swelling in your abdomen and vomiting 1. Treatment involves the emergency surgical removal of your appendix, which must take place before your appendix bursts.


Being aware of signs that indicate a more serious health threat can save your life, especially when you're experiencing lower right abdominal pain during pregnancy. Lie down as soon as you experience any abdominal pain and assess the presence of any other symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, cramping, nausea or vomiting. Determine the severity of the pain that you're experiencing, as well. If the pain persists or increases, or if you're experiencing other serious symptoms, contact your obstetrician or midwife or go to the nearest A&E ward for immediate treatment.

article divider