signs of pregnancy

What Are The First Signs Of Pregnancy?

You might be thinking, “I don’t know if I’m pregnant.” You’re not alone. During pregnancy, your body goes through many changes, and there are first signs you should look for to find out as soon as possible!

Many first time moms wonder when they’ll know if they’re pregnant. One of the first signs is that your breasts will become tender and sore. 

Another sign can be morning sickness which usually happens in the mornings but can occur during the day or night.

You may also start to crave certain foods like pickles and ice cream, which is called cravings.  

If you have been trying for a while to get pregnant, it’s worth getting checked out by your doctor because they might have some advice on what you should do next!

Significant hormonal changes take place during pregnancy. These trigger a variety of symptoms. As a result, some women experience many pregnancy symptoms, while others may have only a few. 

Early pregnancy symptoms include missed periods, breast changes, tiredness, frequent urination, and nausea and vomiting (morning sickness). 

However, these symptoms may be caused by other factors and do not necessarily mean that you are pregnant, so take a home pregnancy test and see your GP if you suspect you are pregnant. 

A wide range of changes can occur in your body in the later stages of pregnancy, including backache, headache, leg cramps or varicose veins, itch or tingling, constipation, haemorrhoids or indigestion, vaginitis or vaginal discharge, or mood changes or depression.

If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your GP. See your GP right away if you experience symptoms like vaginal bleeding or breaking waters, chronic pain, high temperature, severe headaches or vision loss. 

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Overview

While pregnancy tests and ultrasounds are the only ways to determine if you’re pregnant, there are other signs and symptoms you can look out for. 

The earliest signs of pregnancy are more than a missed period. They may also include morning sickness, smell sensitivity, and fatigue.

Do All Women Get Early Symptoms Of Pregnancy?

Every woman is different. So are their experiences of pregnancy. Not every woman has the same symptoms or even the same symptoms from one pregnancy to the next.

Also, because the early symptoms of pregnancy often mimic the symptoms you might experience right before, and during menstruation, you may not realise you’re pregnant.

What follows is a description of some of the most common early symptoms of pregnancy. 

You should know that other things besides being pregnant may cause these symptoms. 

So the fact that you notice some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you are pregnant. The only way to tell for sure is with a pregnancy test.

signs of pregnancy

When Do The Symptoms Start?

Though it may sound odd, your first week of pregnancy is based on the date of your last menstrual period. 

Your last menstrual period is considered week 1 of pregnancy, even if you weren’t pregnant yet.

The expected delivery date is calculated using the first day of your last period. For that reason, the first few weeks where you may not have symptoms also count toward your 40-week pregnancy.

Some women may experience early signs and symptoms within the first weeks of pregnancy in the first trimester, while others may develop symptoms later on in the pregnancy. 

Early pregnancy’s first signs and symptoms can also be similar to symptoms experienced before the menstrual period, so a woman may not recognise the symptoms as related to pregnancy.

Spotting And Cramping

After conception, the fertilised egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. This can cause one of the earliest signs of pregnancy — spotting and, sometimes, cramping.

That’s called implantation bleeding. It occurs anywhere from six to 12 days after the egg is fertilised.

The cramps resemble menstrual cramps, so some women mistake them and the bleeding for the start of their period. The bleeding and cramps, however, are slight.

Besides bleeding, a woman may notice a white, milky discharge from their vagina. 

That’s related to the thickening of the vagina’s walls, which starts almost immediately after conception. Then, the increased growth of cells lining the vagina causes the discharge.

This discharge, which can continue throughout pregnancy, is typically harmless and doesn’t require treatment. 

But if there is a bad smell related to the discharge or a burning and itching sensation, tell your doctor so they can check on whether you have a yeast or bacterial infection.

From week 1 to week 4, everything is still happening on a cellular level. 

The fertilised egg creates a blastocyst (a fluid-filled group of cells) that will develop into the baby’s organs and body parts.

About 10 to 14 days (week 4) after conception, the blastocyst will implant the lining of the uterus in the endometrium. 

This can cause implantation bleeding, which may be mistaken for a light period.

Here are some signs of implantation bleeding:

  • Colour: The colour of each episode may be pink, red, or brown.
  • Bleeding: Bleeding is usually compared to your regular menstrual period. Spotting is defined by blood present only when wiping.
  • Pain: Pain may be mild, moderate, or severe. According to a study of 4,539 women, 28 per cent of women associated their spotting and light bleeding with pain.
  • Episodes: Implantation bleeding is likely to last less than three days and doesn’t require treatment.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, or using illicit drugs, which are associated with heavy bleeding.

Breast Changes

Breast changes are another very early sign of pregnancy. This is because a woman’s hormone levels rapidly change after conception. 

Because of the changes, their breasts may become swollen, sore, or tingly a week or two later. 

Or they may feel heavier or fuller or feel tender to the touch. The area around the nipples, called the areola, may also darken.

Other things could cause breast changes. But if the changes are an early symptom of pregnancy, keep in mind that it will take several weeks to get used to the new levels of hormones. But when it does, breast pain should ease up.

Breast changes can occur between weeks 4 and 6. After that, you’re likely to develop tender and swollen breasts due to hormone changes. 

This is likely to go away after a few weeks when your body has adjusted to the hormones.

Nipple and breast changes can also occur around week 11. Hormones continue to cause your breasts to grow. 

The areola — the area around the nipple — may change to a darker colour and grow larger.

If you’ve had bouts with acne before your pregnancy, you may also experience breakouts again.

Tips

  • Relieve breast tenderness by purchasing a comfortable, supportive maternity bra. Cotton, underwire-free bra is often the most comfortable.
  • Choose one with varying clasps that give you more room to “grow” in the coming months.
  • Purchase breast pads that fit into your bra to reduce friction on your nipples and nipple pain.

Fatigue

Feeling very tired is normal in pregnancy, starting early on.

A woman can start feeling unusually fatigued as soon as one week after conceiving.

Why? It’s often related to a high level of a hormone called progesterone, although other things — such as lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, and a boost in blood production — can all contribute.

If fatigue is related to pregnancy, it’s essential to get plenty of rest. In addition, eating foods that are rich in protein and iron can help offset it.

Fatigue can develop at any time during pregnancy. This symptom is expected in early pregnancy. Your progesterone levels will soar, which can make you feel sleepy.

Tips

  • The early weeks of pregnancy can make you feel exhausted. Make an effort to get enough sleep.
  • Keeping your bedroom cool can also help. Your body temperature may be higher during the early stages of pregnancy.

Increased Heart Rate During Early Pregnancy

Around weeks 8 to 10, your heart may begin pumping faster and harder. Palpitations and arrhythmias are common in pregnancy. This usually is due to hormones.

Increased blood flow due to the fetus happens later in pregnancy. 

Ideally, management starts before conception, but if you have an underlying heart problem, your doctor can help supervise low dosages of drugs.

Nausea (Morning Sickness)

Morning sickness is a famous symptom of pregnancy. But not every pregnant woman gets it.

The exact cause of morning sickness is not known, but pregnancy hormones likely contribute to this symptom. 

Nausea during pregnancy may occur at any time of the day but most commonly in the morning.

Also, some women crave, or can’t stand, certain foods when they become pregnant. That’s also related to hormonal changes. 

The effect can be so strong that even the thought of what used to be a favourite food can turn a pregnant woman’s stomach.

It’s possible that nausea, cravings, and food aversions can last for the entire pregnancy. 

Fortunately, the symptoms lessen for many women at about the 13th or 14th week of their pregnancy.

In the meantime, be sure to eat a healthy diet so that you and your developing baby get essential nutrients. You can talk to your doctor for advice on that.

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Missed Period

The most prominent early symptom of pregnancy, which prompts most women to get a pregnancy test, is a missed period. But not all missed or delayed periods are caused by pregnancy.

Once implantation is complete, your body will begin producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). 

This hormone helps the body maintain pregnancy. However, it also tells the ovaries to stop releasing mature eggs each month.

You will likely miss your next period four weeks after conception. If you have an irregular period, you’ll want to take a pregnancy test to confirm.

Most home tests can detect hCG as soon as eight days after a missed period. In addition, a pregnancy test will be able to see hCG levels in your urine and show if you are pregnant.

Tips

  • Take a pregnancy test to see if you’re pregnant.
  • If it’s positive, call your doctor or midwife to schedule your first prenatal appointment.
  • If you’re on any medications, ask your doctor whether they pose any risk to your growing baby.

Also, women can experience some bleeding during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor what you should be aware of with bleeding. 

For example, when is bleeding normal, and when is it a sign of an emergency?

There are reasons, besides pregnancy, for missing a period. For example, it might be that you gained or lost too much weight. 

Hormonal problems, fatigue, or stress are other possibilities. In addition, some women miss their period when they stop taking birth control pills. 

But if a period is late and pregnancy is a possibility, you may want to get a pregnancy test.

Raised Body Temperature During Early Pregnancy

A higher basal body temperature may also be a sign of pregnancy. 

Your body’s core temperature may also increase more efficiently during exercise or in hot weather. 

During this time, you’ll need to make sure to drink more water and exercise cautiously.

Other Early Symptoms Of Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings changes in your hormonal balance. And that can cause other symptoms that include:

signs of pregnancy (3)

Changes In Mood During Early Pregnancy

Your estrogen and progesterone levels will be high during pregnancy. This increase can affect your mood and make you more emotional or reactive than usual. 

Mood swings are common during pregnancy and may cause feelings of depression, irritability, anxiety, and euphoria.

Frequent Urination And Incontinence During Early Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body increases the amount of blood it pumps. This causes the kidney to process more fluid than usual, which leads to more fluid in your bladder.

Hormones also play a significant role in bladder health. As a result, you may find yourself running to the bathroom more frequently or accidentally leaking.

Tips

  • Drink about 300 mL (a little more than a cup) of extra fluids each day.
  • Plan out your bathroom trips ahead of time to avoid incontinence.
  • Bloating and constipation during early pregnancy

Similar to symptoms of a menstrual period, bloating may occur during early pregnancy. 

This may be due to hormone changes, which can also slow your digestive system down. You may feel constipated and blocked as a result.

Constipation can also increase feelings of abdominal bloating.

Morning Sickness, Nausea, And Vomiting During Early Pregnancy

Nausea and morning sickness usually develops around weeks 4 to 6. 

Although it’s called morning sickness, it can occur any time during the day or night. It’s unclear exactly what causes nausea and morning sickness, but hormones may play a role.

During the first trimester of pregnancy, many women experience mild to severe morning sickness. 

It may become more intense toward the end of the first trimester but often becomes less severe as you enter the second trimester.

Tips

  • Keep a package of saltine crackers by your bed and eat a few before you get up in the morning to help settle morning sickness.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Call your doctor if you cannot keep fluids or food down.

High Blood Pressure And Dizziness During Early Pregnancy

In most cases, high or normal blood pressure will drop in the early stages of pregnancy. However, this may also cause feelings of dizziness since your blood vessels are dilated.

High blood pressure as a result of pregnancy is more difficult to determine. However, almost all cases of hypertension within the first 20 weeks indicate underlying problems. 

It may develop during early pregnancy, but it may also be present beforehand.

Your doctor will take your blood pressure during your first visit to help establish a baseline for a regular blood pressure reading.

Tips

  • Consider switching to pregnancy-friendly exercises if you haven’t yet.
  • Learn how to track your blood pressure regularly.
  • Ask your doctor about personal dietary guidelines to help reduce blood pressure.
  • Drink enough water and snack regularly to help to prevent dizziness. Standing up slowly when getting up from a chair may also help.
  • Smell sensitivity and food aversions during early pregnancy

Smell sensitivity is a symptom of early pregnancy that is self-reported primarily. There’s little scientific evidence about smell sensitivity during the first trimester. 

But it may be necessary, as smell sensitivity may trigger nausea and vomiting. It may also cause a strong distaste for certain foods.

One review looked at reports from 1922 to 2014 about the relationship between smells and pregnancy. 

The researcher found a trend that pregnant women tended to rate odours as more intense during their first trimester.

Weight Gain During Early Pregnancy

Weight gain becomes more common toward the end of your first trimester. You may find yourself gaining about 1 to 4 pounds in the first few months. 

The calorie requirements for early pregnancy won’t change much from your usual diet, but they will increase as pregnancy progresses.

In the later stages, pregnancy weight often spreads out between the:

  • breasts (about 1 to 3 pounds)
  • uterus (about 2 pounds)
  • placenta (1 1/2 pounds)
  • amniotic fluid (about 2 pounds)
  • increased blood and fluid volume (about 5 to 7 pounds)
  • fat (6 to 8 pounds)

Heartburn During Early Pregnancy

Hormones can cause the valve between your stomach and esophagus to relax. This allows stomach acid to leak, causing heartburn.

Tips

  • Prevent pregnancy-related heartburn by eating several small meals a day instead of larger ones.
  • Try to stay sitting upright for at least an hour to allow your food more time to digest.
  • Talk to your doctor about what may be safe for you and your baby if you need antacids.

Pregnancy Glow And Acne During Early Pregnancy

Many people may begin saying you have the “pregnancy glow.” This is because the combination of increased blood volume and higher hormone levels pushes more blood through your vessels. This causes the body’s oil glands to work overtime.

This increased activity of your body’s oil glands gives your skin a flushed, glossy appearance. On the other hand, you may also develop acne.

What Options Help Soothe And Relieve Pregnancy Symptoms?

There are several home remedies and self-care strategies that can help relieve some of the unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy. 

Many medications, including some kinds of antibiotics, are also safe to take during pregnancy. 

Talk to your doctor about considering taking or taking any over-the-counter, prescription medicine, or any supplements or vitamins.

The following are some self-care measures that can help alleviate some of the symptoms that may be troubling:

  • Proper diet and exercise can help lessen symptoms by keeping weight gain under control and strengthening and toning your abdominal muscles. After the first trimester, avoid activities that involve lying on the back for a prolonged time.
  • A pregnancy girdle or sling can help support your abdomen.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that are not too tight, particularly if you have swelling of the legs.
  • Exercise caution when lifting your other children or heavy objects. Be sure to bend the knees when lifting and try to keep the back straight.
  • Sleep on a firm mattress. Lying on your side with a pillow between your legs may be a comfortable position that provides some relief.
  • Wear a bra that provides good support if breasts are tender or sore.
  • Eat lots of fibre to keep the bowels moving and avoid constipation. This means fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Taking fibre or stool softeners may help.
  • Eat small, frequent meals to combat nausea, and avoid foods that trigger nausea. Avoid fatty foods and drink plenty of fluids. Small, regular meals can also help prevent heartburn.

Symptoms Dwindle In The Second Trimester

Many of the body changes and symptoms of pregnancy you experience in the first trimester will start to fade once you reach the second trimester.

Conclusion

A pregnant woman could have all of these symptoms or maybe have only one or two. If any of these symptoms become bothersome, talk with your doctor about them so you can make a plan to offset them. Together, you can find relief and comfort for your pregnancy.

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