Feeling of gravity during pregnancy: why and where does it occur?

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 23.11.2021

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It should be borne in mind that the feeling of heaviness during pregnancy is mainly due to the inevitable physiological changes and shifts in the general metabolism that occur in the body of women during the entire period of gestation.

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Causes of the heaviness during pregnancy

According to obstetricians, such definitions as pathogenesis or symptoms of severity during pregnancy are hardly relevant when it comes to carrying a child - a natural process, which certain transformations in the female body are an essential and integral part of. It is more correct in this case to speak about the etiology of these changes and their signs.

However, there are certain risk factors for pregnant women with truly pathological conditions, complications and diseases, which in ICD-10 are combined into class XV and coded O00-O99. And the first signs of some of these conditions can also manifest a feeling of heaviness.

Regardless of the specific cause of pregnancy, these sensations are a rather abstract description of the perception by interoceptive analyzers of visceral organs and tissues of bodily discomfort.



Doctors identify a key localization of feelings of discomfort - heaviness in the abdomen during pregnancy.

This sensation in the lower abdominal region is considered one of  the early signs of pregnancy due to the increased synthesis of sex steroid hormones, in particular, estradiol and progesterone.

The action of these hormones creates the conditions necessary for carrying a fetus: the endometrium of the uterus thickens, the number of uterine glands increases, and the system of blood vessels becomes more extensive - preparing the base for the formation of blood circulation in the placenta and the  functional system mother-placenta-fetus.

Heaviness in the uterus during pregnancy

As the period increases, heaviness in the uterus increases during pregnancy, usually perceived as a heaviness in the abdomen. And this is also a naturally occurring sensation, because both the size of the uterus and its weight during the whole pregnancy increase many times over. The feeling of heaviness is exacerbated by a large fetus or multiple pregnancy, as well as when the volume of amniotic fluid is more than one and a half liters, that is, manifold water in pregnant women is detected  in late periods.

Unfortunately, the severity in the uterus during pregnancy may also have a pathological cause — during the formation of fibrous nodes or the increase in the existing  uterine fibroids during pregnancy. In such cases, there may be pain and bloody discharge.

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Heaviness in the navel during pregnancy

Pregnant women begin to feel discomfort in the umbilical region with the onset of the second half of gestation. And the main reason is also associated with an increase in the uterus, the bottom of which first reaches the navel level (by the 20-22nd week) and continues to gradually rise even higher, reaching the 36th week of the diaphragm and lower part of the chest. Obstetricians measure the height of standing of the bottom of the uterus of pregnant women with each routine examination, and for the entire period it increases, on average, by 4.5 times.

Heaviness in the stomach during pregnancy

When the discomfort in the epigastric region and the unpleasant feeling of fullness in the stomach are explained by a change in its position (due to the pressure of the enlarged uterus), this only applies to the later stages of pregnancy. But at the beginning of pregnancy, these sensations have only hormone-dependent etiology: estrogen and progesterone reduce not only the tone of the uterus muscles, but also the smooth muscle fibers of the stomach lining, thereby impairing its motility. More information in the material -  heaviness in the stomach during pregnancy

For the same reason (of course, if the expectant mother does not systematically overeat) a heaviness appears after eating during pregnancy.

And all that may be associated with heaviness in the stomach and belching during pregnancy, is described in detail in the publication -  Belching during pregnancy

If there is no food error, that is, the use of poor-quality food, stomach heaviness and nausea during pregnancy are manifestations of  toxemia in early pregnancy, which is associated with high levels of human estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in pregnant women.

Severity of pregnancy

First of all, pregnant women feel heaviness in the side (often symmetrical), because the round and sacro-uterine ligaments stabilizing the usual position of the uterus become thicker and longer, the fallopian tubes together with the mesenteries of the peritoneum are displaced below their "pregeneral" localization, and the ovaries along with the funnel - the pelvic ligaments and the mesovarium (mesenteries of the ovaries) are in the abdominal cavity.

Due to the compression of the rising bottom of the uterus and the lateral displacement of the liver, gallbladder, duodenum and ileum, discomfort and heaviness in the right side during pregnancy appear. A similar situation with the pancreas, spleen and sigmoid colon provokes heaviness in the left side during pregnancy.

Heaviness in intestines during pregnancy

Problems with the work of the digestive tract and the severity of the intestines during pregnancy are the result of the already mentioned unavoidable physiological changes that simultaneously cause constipation and  bloating during early pregnancy, as well as during the second and even third trimesters.

Heaviness in the rectum during pregnancy

There are two reasons for causing a feeling of heaviness in the rectum during pregnancy. The first, physiological, is a strong stretching of the sacro-uterine and rectus-uterine ligaments formed by the parietal peritoneum in the posterior wall of the uterus.

The second reason is pathological, due to stagnation of blood, dilatation of the rectum veins and the formation of nodes in them - hemorrhoids.

Heaviness in the chest during pregnancy

The growth of the uterus lifts the dome of the diaphragm (separating the abdominal and thoracic cavities), and the vertical size of the chest decreases. But its circumference, on the contrary, increases: due to stretching of the synchrosis of the xiphoid process of the sternum and increasing the angle between the spine and the sternum, as well as reducing the curvature of the costal arches. In this case, very often there may be unpleasant sensations and heaviness in the chest during pregnancy.

In addition, during pregnancy (up to about the 32nd week), the volume of blood pumped by the heart - cardiac output increases by 30-50%. This increases not only the heart rate (at rest up to 80-90 beats per minute), but also the actual size of the heart (almost 12%). So, due to the increased load, discomfort in the chest region, heart murmur, and heart rhythm disturbances may appear.

Heaviness in the back during pregnancy

Absolutely natural heaviness in the back during pregnancy, as well as complaints of almost all expectant mothers on the severity of the lower back during pregnancy (in the second half of the term). The fact is that, due to an increase in the abdomen, the center of gravity of the body in pregnant women changes, and as a compensation for its displacement, some deviation occurs to the posterior vertebrae of the lumbar spine with simultaneous overstrain of the muscles located here (spinous, interdigital, vertebral).

Feeling of heaviness in the lower back in early pregnancy, a woman should pay attention to the amount of fluid consumed in the evening, because the kidneys may not have time to remove its excess. But if there are pains in the lumbar region in the lower abdomen, it can be harbingers of spontaneous abortion.

Heaviness in the pelvis during pregnancy

What causes gravity in the pelvis during pregnancy? In the third trimester of gestation, the production of the hormone relaxin, which weakens the ligaments of the pelvis in the region of the pubic symphysis (the symphysis joint), is especially enhanced. This is necessary so that the joints can move a little apart and not hinder the passage of the baby’s head during labor.

In some cases, relaxation of the symphysis may be excessive, which causes pain and requires taking certain measures.

And the gravity in the groin during pregnancy begins to be felt from about the middle of the second semester - due to the fact that the uterus increases and its round ligaments begin to stretch. In later periods, the weight of the child, added to the effects of relaxin, leads to the stretching and weakening of the pelvic floor muscles (between the coccyx and the pubis) supporting the uterus, bladder, rectum, and vagina.

But the severity of the vagina during pregnancy occurs not only because of this. During this period, all genitals that provide the reproductive function of the female body are heavily supplied with blood, which can lead to swelling of their tissues. And the pressure of the uterus often leads to dilatation of the venous vessels -  varicose veins of the vagina during pregnancy, which in most women passes after childbirth.

Heaviness in the legs during pregnancy

The most frequent causes of heaviness in the legs during pregnancy are poor circulation in the lower limbs and  swelling of the legs during pregnancy.

How does medicine explain? The enlarged uterus presses down and slows the upward flow of blood, that is, it prevents the return of blood from the legs and pelvic region to the heart, as a result of which the veins in the legs swell and there is a heaviness when walking during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the blood volume increases by about half, and this additional volume also increases the pressure in the veins, which most women feel like heaviness in the legs in early pregnancy, especially if they have to spend a lot of time standing.

Progesterone is also involved in this - relaxing blood vessels to hold all the “extra” blood. Therefore, pregnant women have varicose veins, causing heaviness in the calves of the legs during pregnancy, passing after childbirth.

And in the appearance of edema of the lower extremities, the hormones of the adrenal cortex aldosterone and cortisol, which regulate the water metabolism, are to blame. The increased synthesis of which is stimulated again by progesterone of the placenta.

Heaviness in the head during pregnancy

Blood pressure fluctuations cause heaviness in the head during pregnancy and headaches.

With a normal pregnancy, blood pressure in the first trimester will remain approximately the same as before its occurrence. In the middle of the term, obstetricians note a decrease in blood pressure, which should return to normal in recent months.

If a woman had high blood pressure before pregnancy, then hypertension will most likely occur during gestation. And for doctors this is a cause for concern, since high blood pressure in the second or third trimesters and  preeclampsia during pregnancy  may limit the amount of oxygen entering the fetus, increasing the risk of premature detachment of the placenta and early delivery.

Diagnostics of the heaviness during pregnancy

Separately, the diagnosis of severity during pregnancy by obstetricians is not carried out, and all diagnostic procedures, including tests, instrumental examination (ultrasound), as well as seeking expert advice, etc. Included in the pregnancy management protocol .

All complaints of pregnant women are taken into account by an obstetrician-gynecologist, who makes the appropriate recommendations, taking into account the condition of the pregnant woman, her history, the timing of gestation and the assessment of risks for the normal development of the fetus.

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Treatment of the heaviness during pregnancy

Since the feeling of heaviness during pregnancy is in the stomach, stomach, back, legs, etc. - normal for this condition, then, as such, its treatment is not carried out. But complaints about such feelings without the attention of doctors and their help do not remain.

Perhaps the  treatment of severity in the stomach  (through the use of funds to reduce the formation of gases in the gastrointestinal tract).

The feeling of heaviness in the abdomen and uterus is reduced when wearing a special antenatal bandage.

How doctors recommend pregnant women to overcome the severity of the intestines, read the article -  Flatulence during pregnancy

Medicines that help with toxicosis, there is; about them in detail in the publication -  Pills for toxicosis during pregnancy

What to do with a strong discrepancy of the pubic symphysis , learn from the article -  Symphysitis in pregnancy.

The latest and useful information contains materials:

Complications and consequences

High blood pressure during pregnancy can have consequences and complications in the form of a risk of later developing cardiovascular diseases.

Can also have consequences and increase the likelihood of complications:

  • varicose veins of the vagina can lead to heavy bleeding during childbirth;
  • varicose veins of the lower extremities creates the prerequisites for the formation of blood clots and the development of thrombophlebitis;
  • preeclampsia and polyhydramnios become the cause of intrauterine oxygen deficiency (hypoxia) of the fetus. In addition, preeclampsia develops with gestosis;
  • myoma in pregnant women is fraught with placental insufficiency and spontaneous abortion.

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