Ectopic pregnancy

This is when a fertilised egg implants outside the womb, for example in a fallopian tube. The pregnancy can’t survive and needs to be removed with medicine or surgery.

Symptoms typically appear between 4 and 12 weeks of pregnancy and can include:

tummy pain and bleeding
pain in the tip of your shoulder
discomfort when pooing or peeing
Find out more about ectopic pregnancy.


Cramping pains and bleeding before 24 weeks of pregnancy can sometimes be a sign of miscarriage or threatened miscarriage (when you bleed but the pregnancy normally continues).


Pain just under the ribs is common in later pregnancy due to the growing baby and uterus pushing up under the ribs.

But if this pain is bad or persistent, particularly on the right side, it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy) which affects some pregnant women. It usually starts after 20 weeks or just after the baby is born.

Other symptoms of pre-eclampsia include:

severe headache
vision problems
swollen feet, hands and face
You’ll need to be monitored in hospital.

Find out more about pre-eclampsia.

Premature labour

If you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant and are having regular abdominal cramps or tightenings, call your midwife.

This could be a sign of premature labour, and you’ll need to be monitored in hospital.

Placental abruption

This is when the placenta starts to come away from the wall of the womb, usually causing bleeding and constant severe pain that doesn’t come and go like a contraction pain.

It’s sometimes an emergency because it means the placenta may not be able to support your baby properly.

You should go to the hospital so you and your baby can be checked.

Find out more about placental abruption

UTI (urinary tract infection)

UTIs are common in pregnant woman and can usually be easily treated. They can cause tummy pain and sometimes, but not always, pain when you pee.