Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms> A woman’s body experiences different changes during the 42 weeks of pregnancy. These changes during pregnancy are due to the significant hormonal changes that trigger a variety of pregnancy symptoms.
The early pregnancy symptoms can be similar to the menstrual cycle or stress, for instance, cramps, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, etc. The later pregnancy stages include headache, backache, varicose veins or leg cramps, constipation, mood changes, or vaginal discharge.
You can use the pregnancy strip to take a pregnancy test at home or visit your general physician for an ultrasound.
Do all Women Experience Similar Symptoms of Pregnancy?
The signs of pregnancy vary for every woman; some women may notice quick changes in the first month, while others do not notice any symptoms. Some women may also confuse symptoms of pregnancy with menstruation because they are pretty similar.
Furthermore, a woman may not experience the same symptoms in subsequent pregnancies as in her first pregnancy. The pregnancy symptoms also vary in severity; however, a missed period and weight gain are the most common signs.
Purpose of Pregnancy Test
Pregnancy tests are the most common and clear-cut way to know if you are expecting a baby. The pregnancy test measures a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG) that builds up in the body just after conception.
The hCG hormone multiplies rapidly during early pregnancy, although it may take up to four weeks from the first day of your last menstrual cycle for a positive pregnancy test.
When Do Pregnancy Symptoms Start?
Pregnancy week one is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period. Yes, it might sound odd that your last menstrual cycle is considered the first week of pregnancy, even if you were not pregnant then.
Your expected delivery date (EDD) is calculated from the first day of the last period, and therefore for the first few weeks, you might not have symptoms.
Symptoms of Pregnancy
The early symptoms of pregnancy are detailed below.
Spotting and Cramp Pains
During the week one pregnancy symptoms, after implantation, the fertilized egg is developing at a cellular level. The group of cells is called blastocyst that develops to form the baby’s organs and body parts.
When the blastocyst implants in the uterus’s lining (endometrium), it can cause light bleeding. You can differentiate menstrual bleeding from implantation bleeding from the following signs.
The color of each discharge might be pink, brown, or red.
The discharge of blood is relatively less, or you might notice spotting while wiping.
Cramp pain can be experienced that can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Implantation bleeding most likely lasts for less than three days.
When the process of implantation is complete, the body begins to produce Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG). The hormone helps maintain pregnancy and plays a role in sending a message to the ovaries to stop the release of mature eggs each month.
After conception, with the release and increase in the hCG hormone levels, you will not have a regular menstrual period. A missed period is amongst the earliest and significant signs of pregnancy.
Raised Body Temperature
An increase in basal body temperature can be a sign of early pregnancy. It is essential to consume enough fluids, especially water, and be cautious while exercising when you are expecting.
Fatigue and Tiredness
Fatigue and tiredness are common in the early weeks of pregnancy. Progesterone hormone levels increase in the initial weeks of pregnancy that make you feel sleepy and exhausted.
Try to get enough sleep and keep a comfortable and calm environment in your bedroom to help you relax.
Swelling and Tender Breasts
Hormone changes in pregnancy week 4 and 6 cause the breasts to become tender, swollen, and somewhat painful. Later in week 11, breast and nipple changes cause the breast and nipple (areola) to increase in size, and it also becomes darker in color.
Your body takes time to adapt to the release of hormones during pregnancy, and when it does, the pain and tenderness in breasts can go away.
Changes in breasts may lead to discomfort that you can relieve using a cotton and underwire-free bra.
Increased Heart Rate
Your heart begins to pump blood faster and harder to provide blood and nutrients to the developing baby. Palpitations and arrhythmias are pretty common during early and late pregnancy.
If you have an underlying heart condition, consult a medical professional to guide you regarding the required dosage.
During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone levels increase during pregnancy which may lead to changes in your mood. These mood changes can lead you to be more reactive or emotional than usual and cause feelings of irritability, depression, euphoria, and depression.
Mood swings are quite common and can happen throughout pregnancy. If you have difficulty controlling your emotions and feelings of depression, contact your healthcare provider for help.
Frequent and Inconsistent Urination
During pregnancy, the number of blood increases in your body causes the kidneys to process extra fluids in the bladder. It leads you to urinate more than usual or have an accidental leakage.
Hormones play a significant role in maintaining the health of the bladder.
To avoid inconvenience, schedule bathroom trips before time and drink extra fluids to compensate for water loss from the body.
Bloating and Constipation
Hormone changes in the body can slow down your digestive system that can cause bloating during early pregnancy. Pregnant women may also experience constipation that increases the feelings of abdominal bloating.
Morning Sickness and Nausea
Morning sickness and nausea develop during week 4 to week 6 of pregnancy. However, morning sickness doesn’t mean it can only occur during the day; but it can happen any time at day or night. Medical professionals are not sure about the cause of morning sickness or nausea, and it is suggested that hormones contribute to it.
More than half of pregnant women experience morning sickness, including nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting. It starts during week four and is likely to settle down by week 12; however, it can return 32 weeks.
Morning sickness during pregnancy can be mild to severe and can become intense by the end of the first trimester, but it becomes less severe at the beginning of the second trimester.
Increased Blood Pressure and Dizziness
Most pregnant women report fluctuations in normal blood pressure in the early weeks of pregnancy. High blood pressure in pregnant women can cause feelings of dizziness because the blood vessels become dilated.
Often women have underlying medical conditions that make it difficult to determine whether high blood pressure is a result of pregnancy. Health professionals establish a baseline reading of blood pressure in your first visit to the hospital.
You can consider exercises that are friendly during pregnancy and track your blood pressure regularly. Moreover, consult your doctor for personal dietary requirements and guidelines suitable for your health. To prevent dizziness, try to stand up slowly when you get up from the chair.
Food Aversions and Smell Sensitivity
Women in pregnancy might become sensitive to certain odors and experience a change in their sense of taste. In the first trimester, women often report sensitivity to smells that can also trigger nausea and vomiting.
Food aversions and smell sensitivity also occur due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. Women often crave new foods and can lose interest in some edibles that they used to cherish.
Often women have reported that they experience a metallic taste in their mouth during earlier stages of pregnancy.
Usually, women crave foods rich in calcium and energy-rich products. However, women can also develop an unusual taste and desire for non-food items like soil, chalk, or paper. Craving for non-food items indicates nutrient deficiency and a health problem called “pica.” Make sure to consult your general physician to overcome the problem.
Nasal congestions are common in pregnancy due to an increase in hormone and blood production levels, causing swelling in the nose’s mucous membranes. Hence, your nose is likely to dry out, swell, bleed, and can be a cause of a runny or stuffy nose.
In the first trimester, women often lose weight due to vomiting and constipation. However, by the end of the first trimester, as the feelings of nausea and vomiting decrease, women gain weight. In the first few months, you might gain about 1 to 4 pounds. Your calorie requirements do not necessarily increase in early pregnancy, but they increase as pregnancy progresses.
In the later stages of pregnancy, women experience spread of weight between the breasts (1-3 pounds), uterus (2 pounds), placenta (1 ½ pound), in the amniotic fluid (2 pounds), increase in blood and fluid volume (5-7 pounds), fat (6-8 pounds).
The valve between your stomach and esophagus relaxes during pregnancy due to the release of hormones. It allows the release of stomach acid that causes heartburn.
You can prevent heartburn by consuming several small portions of meals throughout the day instead of larger meals. Allow the food to digest by sitting or walking rather than going to bed right after eating.
Acne and Pregnancy Glow
People often start to say that you have a ‘pregnancy glow’ due to increased blood flow in your vessels caused by higher blood and hormone levels. The body’s oil glands begin to work overtime, and the flow of blood in vessels gives your skin a glossy and flushed appearance.
On the other hand, women prone to acne before pregnancy can increase due to hormone release.
Varicose Veins and Swelling in Leg
In pregnancy, varicose veins in the legs are quite common due to several reasons. It may be due to the increased volume of circulating blood in the body during pregnancy and the uterus’s pressure on the larger veins. The increased pressure might result in swelling of the legs (edema), causing pain, cramps, unusual sensations, and heaviness feelings, especially at night.
Leg cramps are caused by the build-up of acids that lead to involuntary contractions in the affected muscles. About half of pregnant women experience leg cramps, usually at night. Women mostly experience leg cramps in the second and third trimesters.
You can manage varicose veins and leg cramps in the following ways.
Wear stockings to support your muscles
Walk and exercise (as per your doctor’s suggestion) regularly.
Avoid standing for more prolonged durations.
Keep your feet elevated while resting when possible.
Try to stretch and massage the affected muscle(s) of your legs and feet.
Use a warm pack to disperse the build-up of acids in affected muscles.
Other symptoms of pregnancy
Women may experience other symptoms during pregnancy that can be indicative of other conditions. If you are doubtful or confused regarding the symptoms, consult your general physician. The symptoms are:
Headaches and backache
Numbness and tingling in hands
Vaginitis or vaginal discharge
When and Where to get help
It is suggested that you contact your doctor or seek help from a hospital if you are worried and experience the following conditions.
Limited movement of the baby than expected
Severe pain in the stomach (or pain that doesn’t go away)
Higher body temperature
Your water breaks (leaking amniotic fluid)
Blurred or loss of vision
Widespread itchy skin
Sudden swelling of face, hands, and feet
In emergencies, call for an ambulance, your general physician, midwife, obstetrician, or maternity hospital.
In a Nutshell
Mostly the signs and symptoms of pregnancy are not unique, and some can indicate that your period is about to start or you might be sick. Additionally, it is also possible that you might not experience any of the symptoms and still be pregnant.
However, if you miss a period and experience the above symptoms take a pregnancy test at home or visit your health care provider for an ultrasound. It is good to have early confirmation of pregnancy so you can begin prenatal care.