IN THIS ARTICLE
What are implantation cramps? | What do implantation cramps feel like and when do they happen? | How long do implantation cramps last? | Where do you feel implantation cramps? | What if I don’t experience implantation cramps? | What is implantation bleeding—and is it dangerous? | When should I contact my doctor? | Other common early pregnancy signs
Part of the marvel of conceiving is that you’ll get certain signs and early changes to your body—a beautiful indication that a little one is growing inside you! Some of these symptoms are more recognizable and pronounced than others. Among all of the other indications of early pregnancy (such as nausea, morning sickness or bigger boobs), implantation cramps may be easy to miss. Whether you notice them or not, it’s important to get an idea of what they are and why they happen–it’s good that your growing mini-me is keeping you in the know! Read on for the complete run-down.
What are implantation cramps?
Implantation cramps occur around the fourth week of pregnancy. Mother Nature sure knows how to send you the exciting news nice and early that you’re expecting! The news is so speedy that at this time, it still may even be too soon to have an accurate pregnancy test result.
During these early weeks, your future little one is still what’s known as a blastocyst–a rapidly dividing ball of cells. This ball is the size of a poppyseed and has completed the journey from the fallopian tubes to its new home. During this week, that blastocyst connects—implants—to your uterus. All the while, your uterus has been thickening to prepare to nourish your growing baby. This is when women experience implantation cramps, when their growing blastocyst burrows into the uterine lining.
What do implantation cramps feel like and when do they happen?
Implantation cramps don’t feel like menstrual cramps, and you’re not likely to confuse the two. Women who experience implantation cramps have described them as a prickling, pulling or tingling feeling. You can also differentiate between the two based on timing.
Typically, implantation (and any associated cramping), occurs:
- Six to 12 days after ovulation (the same time when you’d expect to get your period)
- Eight to nine days after fertilization
The cramping will not happen along the same schedule as menstrual cramping would. You can also rest easy because implantation cramping should not be especially painful (phew!) With that being said, if you do experience painful uterine cramps between periods—regardless of whether or not you’re trying to conceive—you should contact your doctor.
How long do implantation cramps last?
Everybody is unique, and as such, implantation cramps vary from person to person and the duration of those cramps will vary also. Some women experience a few minor pains while others have intermittent cramping that last one to three days.
Where do you feel implantation cramps?
Most women experience implantation cramps in their lower abdomen or lower back. On occasion these cramps will be isolated to one side of the body and be felt within the lower right or lower left side of your abdomen.
What if I don’t experience implantation cramps?
As mentioned before, the blastocyst has left the fallopian tubes and traveled to the uterus, then burrowed into the thickening lining of your uterus. This burrowing is why implantation may cause some cramping. It’s important to remember, though, that some women may not experience or notice implantation cramping (lucky them!) Just because you’re unaware of or don’t feel these cramps doesn’t mean that you’re not pregnant. There are a combination of symptoms to watch out for, and ultimately, a pregnancy test can get to the bottom of this very important time.
Did you know? Around 1/3 of pregnant women will experience light spotting.
What is implantation bleeding—and is it dangerous?
Like implantation cramping, implantation bleeding is a common sign of successful implantation (so congratulations are in order!) And much like implantation cramping, not every woman experiences it—so bear in mind that the absence of implantation bleeding doesn’t necessarily mean implantation hasn’t occurred or that you’re not pregnant.
Implantation bleeding is closer to spotting than having a regular period flow. It occurs while the fertilized egg works its way into and attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. The spotting is light, stops on its own, and is not cause for alarm. This blood may be mixed with cervical mucus, other discharge, and be a range of colors, similar to period spotting.
When should I contact my doctor?
Implantation bleeding is completely normal and not in and of itself dangerous. With that in mind, if you have trouble telling the difference between implantation bleeding and your regular flow—or pass clots, have a heavy flow, or pain—contact your doctor.
If you already know you’re expecting (i.e. you’ve had a positive pregnancy test) and you experience cramping or bleeding, this is not related to implantation and you should contact your doctor. While there are a lot of similarities with implantation and menstruation, it may be helpful to know other early pregnancy symptoms.
Other common early pregnancy signs
Luckily, your body responds fairly quickly once you have conceived and puts several things into motion to give you a heads up. Here's some other early pregnancy symptoms:
- Swollen, tender, heavy breasts
- Extreme tiredness
- Mood swings
- Increase in body temperature
- Missed period
- Food aversions
- Nausea or vomiting
Ensuring that your growing baby is healthy can help you have the peace of mind you need to start preparing your home and life for your forthcoming little one. Discover these useful week-by-week development articles that will support you and help to navigate each magical stage of pregnancy by providing you with tips and advice on what to expect.