What are the Symptoms of Pregnancy
Pregnancy or gestation is the process of developing an offspring inside the mother’s womb. Fertilization occurs once a sperm cell attached itself to a mature egg cell. This event take place inside the fallopian tube after the egg cell was released from the one of the ovaries.
Once the sperm and egg cells fused, the by product is called a zygote. The cells that make-up the zygote will divide rapidly. This zygote will grow more and more inside the fallopian tube. Around 12 weeks, the zygote attaches itself onto the uterine wall and becomes what is called a fetus. The fine veins tagged as villi that the zygote grew will eventually develop into the placenta, the organ that protects and provides nutrition to the growing fetus through the umbilical cord.
Pregnancy lasts for about 37 to 40 weeks and these weeks are grouped from first to third trimester. Each trimester is characterized by different signs and symptoms which will be discussed below. The fetus will grow immensely in the course of the nine months. The vital organs including the heart, lungs, and kidneys will develop swiftly at around the 2nd trimester. Physical features like the nose, mouth, eyes, ears and limbs will start to grow at the same time. All these developments happen as the fetus swim inside the uterus filled with amniotic fluid. Let’s look further into each trimester and see the events that both mother and baby will go through:
The first trimester covers week 1 to week 13 of pregnancy. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) or pregnancy hormone is on a hype at these weeks. This hormone is produced by the placenta and production of this begins upon the settlement of the fertilized ovum on the uterus. The shift in the hormones will physically manifest thus the occurrence of the signs and symptoms. After the first 13 weeks, the baby almost carries most of human-like features. The baby’s heartbeat is detectable at this stage. You will be able to hear the heartbeat during a visit to an obstetrician with the use of the tool called fetal doppler. We will talk about these symptoms in full later on.
The second trimester kicks off from week 14. A few but not all of the exhausting symptoms of the first trimester is slowly subsiding. The baby’s fingers and toes are fully grown at this stage. The fine hair called lanugo is starting to appear all over the baby’s body. This offers warmth and comfort to the fetus. The uterus is also expanding to accommodate the added weight of the baby. There will be occasional aches on the lower parts of the body as the muscles stretch to be able to keep up with the changes.
The third trimester begins at week 27 until delivery. The baby’s brain and lungs are functioning at this point and the child inside your belly can already recognize sounds. The baby will reach full term by week 39. You will experience difficulty in sleeping at this time since it will be harder to position yourself on the bed because of your large bump. Swelling of foot and ankles is also common. You will also notice stretch marks on your abdomen and there are regular backaches. Intermittent contractions called Braxton Hicks are also felt during the third trimester. These are irregular tightening of the muscles of the abdomen as the body prepares for the coming birth of the newborn. Urination is also rampant as the bladder collides with the growing uterus. The uterus has expanded to a thousand times by the 36th to 39th weeks.
One of the biggest questions you will ever ask yourself is: “Am I pregnant?” One of the early most definitive symptoms of pregnancy is a missed period, but there are many other symptoms of pregnancy that may even appear before this one.
All women are different, so while some women may experience all of the symptoms of pregnancy, others will only experience some of them. Some women may not even feel pregnant in the beginning. In fact, some signs can be confused with other illness symptoms, especially in the beginning.
Pregnancy is indeed not an easy feat. You have to prepare yourself in all aspects. Now that you have an overview on what to expect in the next nine months, let’s discuss further the symptoms that goes with it. Bear in mind that expectant moms have different stories to tell when it comes to experiencing pregnancy symptoms. The list below indicates the most common ones that appear starting 1st to 3rd weeks of pregnancy:
1. Missed period
Another of the common symptoms of pregnancy is a missed period. However, you should not let this be your only indication. There are other causes of a missed period like, stress, weight fluctuation, illness, travel or coming off the pill that can cause a missed period. Irregular periods are also a symptom of polycystic ovarian syndrome. This is where periods occur several months apart.
In the event that you had an unprotected intercourse during the time of your ovulation, you have a greater chance to become pregnant. There are a number of symptoms that shows before a missed period but a delayed menstruation is a significant symptom to confirm pregnancy especially when you have regular menstrual cycle.
2. Sensitive breasts
Once a surge in the hCG happens, the blood vessels of the breast kicks in to prep the bosom for the their future roles as milk manufacturers. The breasts will double in size plus the areolas will start to darken. You will also observe that the nipples will become tingly and sore to touch.
Your breasts can feel tenderer as soon as two weeks after inception. You may also start to note a darkening of the aereola, which is an indication of a pregnancy. This is the beginning of breast enlargement as your breasts get ready for breast feeding. Sharp and sensitive breasts are one of the early signs of pregnancy.
3. Nausea and vomiting
The combination of these two symptoms is referred to as “morning sickness”. These two are the usual pregnancy symptoms and can afflict weeks before the missed period. The nauseated feeling can continue the whole day but during the mornings are the worse situations.
This the biggest and best of the pregnancy symptoms. Morning sickness can present itself as early as two weeks after conception. But there are women that either don't get morning sickness or experience a very mild form of the sickness.
Nausea is another typical sign of pregnancy and often appears about the same time you miss your period. However, many women can experience nausea as early as two weeks after inception. Most women at about 5 to 6 weeks of inception begin to feel sick in the morning.
Often women who are pregnant will feel intense urges to urinate. This symptom of pregnancy can occur as early as two weeks after being pregnant. However, urination frequency may also be an indication of another problem like infection. When caused by pregnancy it is caused by the rising levels of the progesterone hormones.
4. Elevated sense of smell
You may start to feel more intensely about odors or certain tastes. Foods you may have liked before suddenly don't seem to be as good. Some women even experience strange metallic taste as one of the signs of pregnancy.
In connection to nausea, one of the most common pregnancy symptoms that causes this is the strong sense of smell. Most expectant mothers complain that odors that don’t normally affect them before pregnancy can suddenly ruin their day. Enclosed spaces like kitchens and restaurants filled with scent of garlic or spices can lead to dizziness and gagging.
Fatigue is also a strong indication of a pregnancy. Fatigue differs from being tired in that you do not feel rested after taking a nap or sleeping for a while.
When you are likely to be pregnant, you will tend to feel tired more often. This symptom exhibits even before a missed period. The heightened hormones during the early weeks of pregnancy causes women to feel exhausted and sleepy many times throughout the day. Remember that the body is doing two tasks of supporting you and and your growing child.
6. Mood swings
Finding out that you are expecting can bring a rollercoaster of emotions. There will come a time that you will feel empty, angry, and sometimes hyper. It is completely normal to go through a lot of moods as your hormones are very active. Add to that the physical changes that the body goes through, it can affect how you react to the stimuli present in the surroundings.
7. Frequent peeing and constipation
Another early symptom of pregnancy is the frequent need to take a leak. The additional blood production causes the kidney to work double time which fills up the bladder quickly from day to night.
The high levels of progesterone makes a mom-to-be constipated more often. This change in the body hinders the smooth passage of the food through the digestive tract. To reduce constipation while pregnant, drink plenty of water and eat small portions of food throughout the day.
8. Bloated feeling
You will also have the heavy feeling on your abdomen with some burps and farts as the elevated progesterone is causing the smooth muscles inside the stomach to slow down. This leads to added inches on your waistline as more air and liquid are retained in your body.
As mentioned earlier, there is phase after fertilization where the zygote adheres to the uterine lining. This process is called implantation. The mass of cell has an outer portion which will develop as the placenta while the inner mass emerge as the embryo. Implantation is accompanied by spotting. This is the few drops of blood you will notice on your underwear. Spotting can last for some days with occasional cramping. This should be observed since its opposite, heavy bleeding, is a red flag for miscarriage.
These are just a few of the early symptoms of pregnancy. But not all women experience the same symptoms. Some women may experience some of them, while others will experience all of the symptoms.
To confirm the symptoms above, you will need to buy a home pregnancy test kit. These kits detect pregnancy by the presence of hCG in the woman’s urine. HCG comes into the scene six days after the successful union of the sperm and egg cells and the amount increase as the pregnancy continues . The perfect timing to administer this test is a week after the delayed period. This way, the amount of hCG is high enough to be detected by the pregnancy test kit. Most of these kits are cheap and easy to use. Make sure to follow closely the instructions on the labels to obtain accurate results.
When home pregnancy test comes back with a positive result, you must visit your doctor or your health provider as soon as possible. Upon consultation, the doctor can perform a blood test to also check traces of hCG in the blood. The blood test gives out a 100% confirmation than home test kits but may take time to get the results.
There is a handful of women who just settle on home pregnancy kits, instincts, and symptoms to confirm their pregnancies. The logic of this practice may vary - some might be cultural, religious, or personal reasons. However, according to most obstetrician, the first appointment to the doctor should happen within the first trimester. The OB or the midwife can talk to the mother about her pregnancy or any health issues that may affect the whole process. This is essential not only to first time moms but also to all the mothers since no two pregnancies is the same.