Treating a Stomach Injury When Hit While Pregnant

A pregnant woman standing in a kitchen holding her stomach
Kelvin Murray / Getty Images

Injuries can happen any time, and during pregnancy is no exception. But a blow to your abdomen when pregnant could make you worried that it could possibly cause a miscarriage. Whether you hit your belly accidentally or because of something traumatic like a car crash or a physical assault, it is important to understand what could happen.

Stomach Trauma During Pregnancy

How far along you are in your pregnancy matters a lot when it comes to abdominal trauma. In the first trimester and the start of the second trimester, the uterus is completely protected by the pelvis and the bones of the pelvis act as a protective barrier. Because the uterus isn't exposed at this point, neither falls nor minor trauma are likely to be problematic.

It's only after the first trimester, when the uterus begins to peek above the pelvis, that there's more reason for concern if you get hit in the stomach. Your baby is protected by your uterus and your amniotic fluid acts as a cushion and provides shock absorption for your baby.

So, it isn't direct injury to your baby that is typically the problem. The big concern is injury to your placenta that could then affect the baby. The risk is that severe trauma could cause a placental abruption. However, note that this type of damage is typically not caused by your average fall or minor car accident.

Safety Precautions After Stomach Injury

There are several safety precautions that you should take if you sustain an injury to your abdominal area, even if you feel fine.

If you have fallen or had an accident, it's important to call your doctor or midwife immediately, even if you don't think that the accident was that bad or you don't feel hurt.

Your provider may want you to come in to check the baby and ensure that the placenta is still functioning properly. There are several tests that can check your baby's well-being. Again, the type of test and the extent of testing will depend on how far along in pregnancy you are.

Non-Stress Test

If you are at or past 24 weeks gestation, a non-stress test (NST) will likely be done. This involves you being monitored with a fetal monitor and marking when the baby moves.

This test might be one of the first tests done to see if your baby is responding well or to detect a potential pattern of contractions that might indicate a placental problem, like an abruption. Typically you will be monitored for at least four hours after significant trauma. This test can be done in many doctors' or midwives' offices, making it very accessible. 

Ultrasound

An ultrasound might be recommended to evaluate your placenta, although it can be difficult to determine injury to the placenta by ultrasound. An ultrasound may also be recommended to check on the well-being of your baby. If you are early in pregnancy, the ultrasound can check on the baby's heartbeat.

If you are further along, a more extensive ultrasound called a biophysical profile might be done. You may be able to have an ultrasound at your provider's office, or it may need to be done at the hospital.

Questions to Ask

If you've had abdominal trauma, you'll want to ask some questions of your providers once it's been determined that you and baby are stable. These include:

  • Is there anything that would indicate that I would need to immediately go to the emergency room or call 911?
  • What signs or symptoms would you normally expect I would have?
  • What signs or symptoms would you want me to call you about?
  • Will either my baby or I need further follow-up this pregnancy? After birth?
  • Will I need additional testing?
  • Will this alter the course of my pregnancy? Labor? Birth?

You are likely to be frightened and shaken and have a million questions and worries running through your brain. Know that the vast majority of the time, you and baby will be fine.

Treating Other Injuries

It is important to note that other injuries after accidents or falls will also need to be treated, separate from the pregnancy. This may mean that you'll need to have other tests or medications that will potentially impact your pregnancy. Your pregnancy provider will likely work closely with the other doctors involved in your care.

Be sure to ask about anything different you may notice after your injury. It is important to talk with your doctor just to be sure you're okay.

Domestic Violence in Pregnancy

Being hit in the stomach can occur in a fight, such as with intimate partner violence or domestic abuse. Pregnancy is a common time for violence to begin.

If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of intimate partner violence, contact your local women's shelter or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233), 800-787-3224 TYY.

Consider getting help to remove yourself and your baby from the violence. There is help available to find a safe place to live and get on your feet to make a better life for you and your baby.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mirza FG, Devine PC, Gaddipati S. Trauma in pregnancy: A systematic approach. Am J Perinatol. 2010;27(07):579-86. doi:10.1055/s-0030-1249358

  2. Sadro C, Bernstein MP, Kanal KM. Imaging of trauma: Part 2, Abdominal trauma and pregnancy—a radiologist's guide to doing what is best for the mother and baby. Am J Roentgenol. 2012;199(6):1207-19. doi:10.2214/AJR.12.9091

  3. Murphy NJ, Quinlan JD. Trauma in pregnancy: Assessment, management, and prevention. Am Fam Physician. 2014;90(10):717-22.

  4. O'Neill E, Thorp J. Antepartum evaluation of the fetus and fetal well beingClin Obstet Gynecol. 2012;55(3):722-730. doi:10.1097/GRF.0b013e318253b318

  5. Jain V, Chari R, Maslovitz S, et al. Guidelines for the management of a pregnant trauma patient. J Obstet Gynaecol Canada. 2015;37(6):553-71. doi:10.1016/S1701-2163(15)30232-2

  6. World Health Organization. Understanding and addressing violence against women: Intimate partner violence. World Health Organization; 2012.

Additional Reading