Treating a Stomach Injury When Hit While Pregnant

A pregnant woman standing in a kitchen holding her stomach
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There are many old wives tales about how miscarriages happen in pregnancy. One is that falling downstairs, or being hit in the stomach or abdomen, is a way to induce a miscarriage. That begs the question: can being hit in your stomach cause a miscarriage?

Stomach Trauma During Pregnancy

In the beginning of pregnancy, the uterus is completely protected by the pelvis, so a miscarriage caused by being hit in the stomach is not likely. The bones of the pelvis act as a protective barrier. The uterus isn't exposed at this point, so you can breathe a sigh of relief that falls nor trauma is likely to be problematic.

It's only after the first trimester, when the uterus begins to peek above the pelvis, that there's more likelihood that damage may be done. The risk here is that severe trauma would cause a placenta abruption.

However, note that this type of damage is typically not caused by your average fall or minor car accident.Also remember that your baby is protected by the amniotic fluid, so damage is more likely to come to the placenta more than anything else.

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 find.

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 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 some things that your doctor or midwife might be able to do to check on the health of the baby.

Testing Procedures

There are several tests that can check your baby's well-being.

Non-Stress Test

Depending on where you are in your pregnancy, a non-stress test (NST) might 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. 


An ultrasound test is done to determine if there is damage to the baby or your uterus by visualizing both. This can be done at any gestational age. It may also need to be repeated to see if there is healing if any damage was caused. You may be able to have this done at your provider's office, or you may have to wait for a slot 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 my course of 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.

Treat 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. This is where working with your pregnancy provider and in conjunction with your trauma medical team is important.

You may also have other issues that cause you to have worrisome symptoms. An example might be that you might notice blood in your urine. This might be normal and expected, but you didn't know to expect it. Be sure to bring up and ask about anything different you may notice after your injury with your doctor just to be sure you're safe.

Domestic Violence in Pregnancy

It is important to note that 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.

The CDC highlights the importance of the National Domestic Violence Hotline: If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of intimate partner violence, contact your local battered 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. People are willing to help you find a safe place to live and get on your feet to make a better life for you and your baby.

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Article Sources
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