After going through it three times (and having two beautiful boys at the end of it!) i\’ve expereienced a few early pregnancy signs myself. Early pregnancy affects women in different ways though. In my online searches before that elusive BFP (big fat positive pregnancy test!) I found a number of lists of signs, so here i\’ve put the most commonly seen ones together. Here\’s everything you need to know about the early signs of pregnancy.
Swollen or tender breasts
Pregnancy changes start to occur as rapidly as one to two weeks after insemination. Reports show that one of the first and early signs of pregnancy is the feeling of sore, tender, or tingly sensation of the breast. Other changes during the early stages of pregnancy include protruding and darkened nipples. Due to the increase in the hormone levels during pregnancy, it boosts the blood flow and brings about changes in the breast tissue. Some women felt that during such changes the breast was painful or experienced an extreme sort of sensation that occurs right before having the monthly periods. It reportedly lasts through the first trimester of pregnancy. The breasts of pregnant women go through several changes to prepare for the breastfeeding that the baby will need. As the weeks go by you will notice that the size of your breast will increase and will continue to grow throughout your pregnancy. Other symptoms during pregnancy are changes in the pigment and veins of the areolas (the natural colored tissue circle around the nipple) that gets darker and bigger with time. Leaky breast is typical in most women, but in others, it does not happen at all.
Carrying another life in your body and nurturing it for healthy growth is not easy. Fatigue is another one of the most common and early signs of pregnancy that most women experience. However, it varies among different pregnant women, and some women do not experience it at all. The feeling of tiredness and exhaustion sets in during the first trimester and fades away by the time of the second trimester, and then it tends to return in the third trimester.
During the early stages of pregnancy, there are a lot of hormonal changes happening in your body which results in fatigue. The production of blood is more in the body to supply the necessary nutrients to the baby. It leads to lower blood pressure, blood sugar levels and elevates the progesterone levels which are liable to make you sleepy. Emotional changes further contribute to the decrease in the energy level. It is crucial to understand that your emotional status also influences your physical well being and you must take care of it.
Often called “The Happy Trimester,” the second trimester of the pregnancy musters in a new rush of energy. It is the time when most pregnant women take advantage to finish off other pending and essential work. During such times your whole system gets, and you will feel like your old self. Some reports show that some women may still feel a slight sense of fatigue even during the second trimester but worry not as it is entirely reasonable.
Cramping or spotting
You may experience slight bleeding even before you find out that you are pregnant. The bleeding occurs due to the attaching of the fertilized egg on the uterine lining. The process is commonly called implantation bleeding. It happens routinely at the time of the nest expecting date of the menstrual cycle. According to reports, about 20% of pregnant women experience light bleeding or spotting in the first trimester, and it is normal. However, if the bleeding is heavy and cramps similar to menstrual period happens it is better to have it checked as it can be fatal. Spotting is another form of bleeding where the amount of blood is in drops. You can use the usual sanitary pads or panty liner to assess the amount of blood that is dropping and inform your doctor about it.
Sometimes you might experience vaginal bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy which could be referring to a severe problem. Some causes of severe bleeding in pregnancy may include miscarriage, subchorionic hemorrhage, Ectopic pregnancy, threatened miscarriage, and, molar pregnancy.
Nausea and vomiting
Studies show that morning sickness or vomiting is one of the early signs of pregnancy, which affects almost 80% of pregnant women. Morning sickness does not pose any health dangers to the baby or the mother, and the process is instead naturally happening. Studies show that vomiting in the morning during pregnancy could also be an indication of a thriving pregnancy that lowers the chances of stillbirths and miscarriages.
There is no specific timing for the morning sickness to occur; it can happen in the morning, afternoon, daytime or at night. So far there has not been any precise cause known to people about morning sickness. Over the years experts started to suggest and avail home remedies to treat morning sickness during pregnancy. Some people recommend ginger as the best agent for treating nausea during pregnancy. A common belief also suggests that morning sickness symbolizes wholesome fertility.
The hormonal change that occurs with the initiation of your pregnancy is responsible for all the physical and emotional changes you go through. The responsible hormones triggering all such emotions and cravings of the pregnant women double up with every passing day in the first trimester. Such hormones continue to influence the appetite of a woman throughout the pregnancy period. The leading journal, Appetite published a study where it stated that the aversions towards certain food items and feeling of nausea initiated at the same time of pregnancy in most women might be because the same hormone is the cause of both the phenomenon.
Apart from experiencing food aversions in the first trimester of pregnancy, there are also chances of developing new dislikes along the way. In most cases, food aversions go away after the birth of the baby, however; there is a possibility of its continuation forever. Experiencing strong cravings for a particular food is common in all pregnancies. You may even continue to crave the same food after giving birth. The type of food that a pregnant woman mostly desire are the ones with an overpowering smell; some common food aversions are spicy food, meat, milk, garlic, eggs, onion, tea, and coffee. Health Line suggests that with the initiation of your pregnancy, the hormones in your body go through changes that affect every aspect of your system, and you will crave for food that you usually hate or dislike and avert food items that you usually love.
Frequent headaches are another early signs of pregnancy which is common among many women. The problems are recurring without any time limit during pregnancy and the first and third trimesters are the times when it is constant. Throughout the first trimester, your body experiences an efflux of hormones and elevation in the blood pressure and sugar levels. Such changes are responsible for the causes of a frequent headache during pregnancy. Changes in vision, stress, or poor posture can further provoke the cephalalgy.
American Pregnancy lists other reasons for the cause of a headache during pregnancy are:
- Lack of proper water intake
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Not enough sleep
- Changes that cause stress
- Low blood sugar
Women suffering from migraine headaches regularly can experience different outcome during pregnancy whereas, for some, it may persist without any changes or become even worst. When taking any medication for treating migraine or headaches, it is best to consult with your doctor to avoid complication in your pregnancy process. Experiencing problems in the third trimester of your pregnancy can be because of stress and poor body posture due to carrying the extra weight.
Experiencing sudden mood swings are also some of the early signs of pregnancy in the first trimester. Hormones play a vital role in our body, and when changes begin to take place during pregnancy, there are bound to be new and sudden effects on the emotional, physical, and internal workings of the body. According to many studies, mood swings during pregnancy is due to changes in the hormones progesterone and estrogen, fatigue, physical stress, changes in the metabolism, etc. Pregnant women in the first-trimester experience mood swings for about 6 to 10 weeks. The mood swings can return in the third trimester as well when preparing for the delivery of the baby is in progress. Experts suggest some simple ways to manage and balance the stress levels during mood swings:
- Taking a walk, this is a great stress reliever and also helps to get your body moving to ensure a smooth delivery.
- Eating well to provide nutrition and proteins for both the mother and the child.
- Spend time with your partner. It is a great stress reliever and strong emotional support.
- Napping. Taking a nap during the day is another way of relaxing your body and mind.
You can also try pregnancy yoga or meditation, spa massages, get plenty o9f sleep time, or try some regular exercise routines.
Dizziness and faintness
The early signs of pregnancy like dizziness or feeling faint are common and typical symptoms of pregnancy in the first trimester. The blood vessel in your body widens and relaxes with the increase in the hormones during pregnancy. The process helps to elevate the supply of blood flow to the baby which aids in its growth. However, it minimizes the amount of blood in your veins when it returns. The whole process decreases your blood pressure level, which in turn lower the flow of blood to your brain that causes dizziness temporarily.
During pregnancy when the body starts adapting to metabolic changes, the blood sugar level decreases which result in dizziness. Patients who have varicose veins or are anemic are more prone to suffer from dizziness as compared to others. In the second trimester, the widening of the uterus pressurizes the blood vessels and can cause dizziness. Lying on your back can also cause dizziness as pressure creates on the vena cava (large veins carrying blood to your heart from the lower body) by the mass of the baby.
You can avoid certain episodes of dizziness by managing a proper food schedule, walking around instead of standing in one place, avoiding showers or hot baths, wearing comfortable and loose clothing to allow circulation of blood, get up slowly after lying down or sitting, etc.
Constipation is another early sign of pregnancy and is common among many women. One reason for its cause is the increase in progesterone, which loosens the muscles of the entire body, plus the digestive tract. It results in slow passing of food in the intestine that leads to constipation.
You can avoid and ease constipation during pregnancy by:
- Drinking a lot of water – Staying hydrated is one effective way of dealing with illness. You can drink other beverages or water measuring 8-ounce of 10 cups daily. You can also sip on liquid throughout the day and check for the color of the urine which should turn clear from yellow when you are hydrated.
- Regular exercises – To ease constipation you can try riding a stationary bike, walking, yoga, or swimming.
- High-fiber foods – Everyday food items like brown rice, fresh fruits, whole grain, bread, vegetables, cereals, beans, etc. are all good agents to relieve constipation.
- Prenatal vitamins – If you are not anemic it is advisable to take a prenatal multivitamin supplement with fewer contents of iron.
As always – speak with your medical team, your midwife, GP or obstetrician, about any concerns you have.
Blood pressure during pregnancy
Your blood pressure is the force of the blood that flows in the veins and arteries of the heart. The American Heart Association (AHA), points out that the average reading of the blood pressure should be 120/80 mm Hg and below. The translations above 140/90 mm Hg during pregnancy imply hypertension or high blood pressure. According to AHA, out of 3 adults, at least one adult has hypertension. Pregnancy hypertension divides into chronic hypertension which is the existence of high blood pressure even before pregnancy and hypertension related to pregnancy.
According to Health Line, disorders related to high blood pressure during pregnancy occurs after 20 weeks into the pregnancy. You can manage your blood pressure levels by visiting your doctor often to keep proper watch over your progress. Most doctors recommend monitoring fetal discharge, blood and urine tests.