The hard belly in pregnancy

Are you pregnant, and your belly looks like a boulder? Or do you feel like you have a hard ball in your lap?
These are very common sensations during pregnancy: almost all pregnant women are interested in the hard belly problem.


In a woman’s life, pregnancy is definitely a time of joy.

However, this happiness is also accompanied by discomforts: morning sickness, the emergence of red or blue lattices on the legs, the feeling of having a hard belly.

Hard belly, or swollen belly?

As the pregnancy progresses, from one month to the next the woman’s belly takes on different physical characteristics.

The sensations that she has regarding her growing belly can also be different.

Hard bellyDuring the first weeks of pregnancy, the belly does not undergo any particular change, and therefore it is difficult in this period to feel the sensation of having a hard belly.

Swollen belly. Instead, the sensation of having a swollen belly is more common: since her body undergoes big changes, especially hormonal, it is perfectly normal that during the first weeks or months of pregnancy the woman can feel swollen her belly.

Hard belly, or contractions?

If the hardening of the belly is due to contractions, usually this hardening lasts a few seconds, and then the belly relaxes on its own.

The woman may experience contractions if she feels a tension that starts from the bottom of the uterus and grows in intensity to resemble a cramp.

These are not contractions when the woman notices that the hardening lasts longer, or even lasts for a whole day.

The possible causes of hard belly

Let’s see what can be the causes of this condition.

the uterus

The hard belly can simply be a disorder related to the contractile activity of the uterus.

The baby grows into the womb – which is located in the pelvic cavity between the bladder and the rectum intestine.

  • Accompanying the growth of the baby and the uterus, the waist circumference of the woman begins to expand.
  • So the main cause of the hard belly is related to the fact that the uterus begins to apply pressure on the abdomen tending to expand it.

Most of the time it is a slight constant hyper-tone, that is to say that the woman perceives a fixed tension when she is too many hours on her feet or when she lives a stressful situation.

the development of the fetal skeleton

Usually pregnant women feel a hardening of their belly during the second trimester of pregnancy, when the skeleton of the fetus develops and expands.

  • If you feel a hardening of only part of the belly, it is probably your baby who tips his feet or hands, or who stretches: trying to gently massage the part, everything will return to normal.

a constipation

Another cause that can be the basis of a hard belly is due to an inappropriate diet, either because it is too poor, or because of wrong eating habits such as eating too quickly.

  • If you eat too quickly, it is possible that the woman suffers from constipation.
  • Consumption of carbonated drinks can also lead to hardening of the belly.

In order to avoid these digestion problems, pregnant women are usually advised to consume foods that are high in fiber.

of stretch marks

Another cause of hardening of the belly may depend on the formation of stretch marks.

These stretch marks can be prevented by gently massaging the area with a topical vitamin A cream.

Some things you should know

During pregnancy the sensation of a hard belly may be different in relation to the physical characteristics of each individual woman.

Usually, thin women experience a feeling of hardening in the stomach in the first days of pregnancy, while fatter women experience hardening during the third trimester.

If it occurs in the last weeks of gestation, it is not a problem of hard belly, but rather of contractions: if these progress with shorter and shorter intervals, up to 10 or 5 minutes between one contraction and another, it is appropriate to go to the hospital, because labor may have begun.

Only a gynecologist can make a distinctive diagnosis of the different conditions through an appropriate examination and cervicometry (measurement of the length of the uterine cervix), or by means of a transvaginal ultrasound to measure the length of the uterine neck.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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