Pregnancy opens a new chapter in every woman’s life. Similar to starting a new book to read, you are bound to see experiences that you are not familiar with. You’ll say at first that you already know the essential things about pregnancy from the stories of your mother, siblings, relatives, or friends or from the articles you read online, but it will definitely be a different story when you experience it firsthand.
The journey to motherhood begins upon the appearance of the signs and symptoms. But before we jump into that topic, let’s first differentiate these two concepts.
Signs are often objective. These are the indicators that can be pointed or detected by the people around the subject. On the other hand, symptoms refer to the range of feelings identified by the person affected. Signs and symptoms are both considered when identifying numerous medical conditions. These factors can easily help doctors on their diagnosis or in this case, to say if you are pregnant or not.
Every woman's body is different, so you may have different early signs and symptoms of pregnancy. But there are a few early signs and symptoms of pregnancy that you should be on the lookout for. Once you have a feeling that you are pregnant you don't have to wait until you miss your period to take a pregnancy test.
Pregnancy symptoms can be felt as soon as you missed your period or sometimes about a week later. These things will then be observed side by side by the physical signs that will be identified by the doctor upon consultation. To help you out, here’s a rundown of the common signs and symptoms of pregnancy:
1. You’re feelings nauseous
This unpleasant feeling can start as early as four weeks into the pregnancy. This can also come with vomiting and often tagged as “morning sickness”. These symptoms are not harmful and happen due to all the changes taking place in a woman’s body all at once. There are times that these occurrences will interfere with the daily activities but it can be managed. It is ideal for women experiencing these symptoms to eat small meals and sip small amount of liquids throughout the day. This woozy feeling may last until the 12th week of pregnancy but if it lasts longer than usual, speak with a nutritionist to make sure the mother and the baby are not missing out any nutrients.
It is also normal to experience morning sickness as soon as two weeks after conception. This can also be caused by an upset stomach though. But this and any other of the symptoms may be one of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy.
2. You have mood swings
The sudden change in the estrogen and progesterone level during pregnancy causes the brain chemicals to react thus affecting the neurotransmitters assigned in regulating the person’s mood. These chemical messengers also have to deal with a range of feelings especially when a person is becoming a mother. Going through pregnancy may lead to a rollercoaster of emotions and the support from family is very helpful at this time. Mood swings flare up at round six to ten weeks of pregnancy and reappears on the third trimester.
3. You have food cravings and distastes
When you crave certain foods even at the beginning of a pregnancy, this can be another of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy. The great deal of hormonal changes in a mom-to-be’s body plays an impact on the change in taste and smell (this is also related to the constant nauseated feeling). The cravings and aversions during pregnancy may differ from one pregnant person to another. However, recent dietary studies show that many expecting women desire sweet, salty, and spicy food items. Fulfilling most cravings has its pros and cons. Though this practice lessens a pregnant woman’s stress and fatigue, nutritionists’ advice is to not over indulge on sugary snacks that can lead to increased blood sugar and excess weight.
4. You’re feeling tired most of the time
The feeling of weakness and exhaustion commonly happen during the first trimester and latter months of the pregnancy. Fatigue is particularly caused by the hormonal changes and the physical stress brought by gestation. It can also be considered that pregnant women are carrying added weight during these months. To ease fatigue, expecting mothers can sign up and join pre-natal yoga classes or follow simple exercises like brisk walking or stretching. There are also maternity body and belly pillows available in baby stores which offer added comfort when sleeping or sitting for long hours during pregnancy.
5. You have frequent bathroom breaks
Many women experience frequent urination about 4 to 6 weeks after conception. This is caused by the increasing size of the uterus. However, there can also be other causes of this problem, including urinary tract infections or it can be caused by an increased quantity of liquids.
Due to the change in hormones called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), there is a sudden flow of blood through the kidney of a pregnant woman. This causes the bladder to fill up quickly which leads to frequent urination. This symptom is likely to continue as the pregnancy progress. This is due to the pressure exerted by the growing uterus.
6. You skipped your period
The possibility of getting pregnant is higher especially if a woman had unprotected sex simultaneous with the ovulation time. A missed period is the earliest indication before all other signs and symptoms appears. However, if menstrual cycle is irregular and does not occur monthly, feeling nauseous and frequents trips to the bathroom to take a leak may signal the start of pregnancy.
7. There is spotting
One of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy is slight bleeding. At about 6 to 12 days after conception the embryo will adhere to the lining of the uterus. At this point you may experience blood spotting. You may also experience a few cramps and even a slight vaginal infection.
Immediately after fertilization of the egg cell, there is an increased cell growth in the vaginal walls causing spotting and discharge. The thickening of the walls is a sign that the body is preparing the uterus for the developing fetus. Minimal amount of bleeding and milky discharge are harmless and may continue through the nine months of pregnancy.
8. Your breasts are sore
Other signs and symptoms of early pregnancy include breast swelling. Your breasts will become tender and the skin around your nipples will get darker right after you become pregnant.
A woman who is expecting is likely to have sensitive and tender to touch as the body is preparing the mammy glands for milk production. There might be also tingling and swelling of the nipples. Additionally, the areolas tend to darken at this stage. This might be a very challenging time but these hardships will lead to the production of the colostrum. This special fluid is yellow in color and will be the baby’s first food after birth. The colostrum is filled with living cells that will give immunity to the child against harmful elements.
9. Bloated abdomen
The progesterone level shoots up during early stages of pregnancy and known to cause bloating plus frequent farting. This hormone relaxes the gastrointestinal tract of a pregnant woman to let nutrients be fully absorb by the blood and the baby but this also lengthens the digestion thus causing the uterus to bloat. A proper diet can help manage this symptom. Most nutritionist advise pregnant women to cut down on legume and include more greens in their meals. It is also recommended to drink plenty of water throughout the day and slow down when chewing the food.
10. Pain in your lower pelvic
You may experience unexpected back pain in your lower back. This is an indication of a pregnancy but can also be caused by stress, premenstrual syndrome or physical activity.
Together with the bloat feeling, the pain in the torso is one of early signs that women complain during the early parts of pregnancy. This is cause by the major hormonal changes plus the gradual implantation of the fertilized ovum onto the uterine lining. The pain can be compared to cramps and as the baby grows, the womb contract to accommodate the added size in the abdomen. Resting and applying a bottle filled with warm water on the abdominal area can ease the pain temporarily.
Some women experience severe headaches at the beginning of their pregnancy. These headaches are caused by a rise in hormones. On the other hand, they can also be caused by other factors like eye strain, dehydration, caffeine withdrawal and other diseases.
These are just a few of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy. The onset of at least two of these symptoms can indicate a pregnancy.
In order to confirm the signs and symptoms mentioned above, a pregnancy test can be done as early as seven days after a missed period (given that you had unprotected sex prior to that). Over-the-counter pregnancy test kits are available in many drugstores or you could try homemade natural tests. These urine test kits can be administered at home and this can tell if the urine contains hCG after only a few minutes. These home pregnancy tests are convenient but not 100% reliable. A woman who is possibly pregnant must see a doctor who can perform a blood test to confirm the results.
Blood tests are used less often but are more consistent. This can detect pregnancy as early as six days after ovulation but may take a week or two for the results to be release by the doctor. The best thing about blood test is that it can detect the hCG concentration in a pregnant woman’s body. It can also help doctors to determine ectopic pregnancy and monitor hCG level in the event of possible miscarriage.
Remember that signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary from person to person. If a home pregnancy test comes back positive, it is better to book an appointment with the doctor. Don’t be hesitant when explaining symptoms to the doctor. After this initial consultation, the mother-to-be can choose freely the health care providers who can give the greatest care and service.
At this point, once the results are in and as signs and symptoms come and go, an expecting mom should keep herself as healthy as possible. It should start on eating smart and quitting habits like drinking and smoking. Many research show that these vices affect the baby’s development and may lead to different health problems.
A balanced diet before and during pregnancy is important as to avoid the gestational diabetes. This can be started by sticking to a meal plan composed mainly of fruits, vegetable, protein, and whole grains. This is also the perfect time to say goodbye to junk food and caffeinated drinks as these foods contain nothing but preservatives and calories.
An obstetrician or OB, the doctor who specialized in pregnancy, labor, and child birth, must be informed about any medicine or any prescriptions drugs taken prior to pregnancy. In addition, the OB can prescribe the right prenatal vitamins for the mom-to-be. Folic acid supplement is known to lower the risk of defects on newborn. The OB can also recommend shots or vaccines that can benefit both the mother and the baby.