12 Early Signs of Pregnancy
Many women do not suspect they are pregnant until they miss their first period. However, for others, some minor symptoms can be present.
It’s important that any symptom you experience is assessed by a medical professional – because although it may be associated with pregnancy, it does not necessarily mean you are pregnant. The most reliable indicator of pregnancy is a medical examination and a positive test result from your doctor.
Anthea Savage outlines some symptoms that might indicate you are pregnant.
1. Light bleeding or spotting
Around one to two weeks after conception, the embryo implants into the uterine lining, causing light bleeding and/or cramps. Other possible causes could be changes in the menstruation cycle, a change in birth control pills, or infection.
2. Missed period
This is the most common pregnancy symptom that will often lead you to take a pregnancy test. Other possible causes could be fatigue, excess weight loss or gain, or stress.
3. Tender or swollen breasts
As early as one week after conception, some women report their breasts becoming swollen, sore or tender. These symptoms can also be associated with birth control pills, hormonal imbalance, and impending menstruation.
4. Mood swings
Some women report symptoms similar to pre-menstrual tension in the first few weeks after conception that can sometimes last throughout pregnancy. This is caused by hormonal changes in the body that can also lead to mood swings and feelings of anxiety. Regular exercise can help improve the chemical balance in the brain and promote a happier state of mind.
5. Frequent urination
This symptom manifests itself around six to eight weeks after conception, as your growing uterus starts to put pressure on your bladder. Other causes could be diabetes, urinary tract infection or consuming excessive diuretics.
Estrogen plays a role in controlling and moderating our sense of taste – and because taste is closely linked to smell, many women experience inexplicable cravings and aversions. A metallic taste is also reported by some. Often symptoms pass by the second trimester.
7. Nausea and vomiting
Nausea during pregnancy occurs in around 80% of all pregnancies during the first trimester, with vomiting an associated complaint in half. While most cases will settle without complication, some women can be hospitalised due to prolonged sickness and dehydration. It is important you drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. Stress, new hormonal birth controls and food poisoning can also cause nausea/vomiting.
8. Vaginal discharge
A clear discharge is common in pregnancy. However, if the discharge has a strong or unpleasant odour, is associated with an itch or soreness, then infection needs to be excluded by your doctor.
Heartburn is estimated to occur in up to half of all pregnancies. Symptoms can be reduced by maintaining an upright position after meals and sleeping in a propped-up position. Eating smaller meals and reducing your intake of high-fat foods and caffeine can also help. Antacids have been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms.
To help alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of developing haemorrhoids, drink plenty of fluids, consume high-fibre foods and get plenty of gentle exercise. According to Patient.co.uk, when fibre supplementation is not effective, stimulant laxatives have been shown to be more effective but cause more abdominal pain than bulk-forming laxatives.
Fatigue is very common in early pregnancy and reaches a peak at the end of the first trimester. Rest and lifestyle adjustment are usually all that is required. If symptoms are experienced in late pregnancy, anaemia or asthma should also be excluded.
Some women experience dull backache throughout pregnancy, while others develop it around the fifth month. Yoga, light exercise, swimming and simple pain relief can help. Frequent headaches can be due to hormonal changes in the body – or related to eyestrain, dehydration or withdrawal from caffeine.
Before consuming any medication in pregnancy, always ask advice from a pharmacist or doctor.