Pregnancy

Pregnancy Symptoms – There are many more than just missed periods

Overview

People usually do not identify all the pregnancy symptoms and tend to believe that a missed period is the only way to know the conception status. However, this isn’t true, and there are plenty of other signs as well, like fatigue, morning sickness, smell sensitivity, etc.

Pregnancy Symptoms – When do they begin to appear?

The first week of pregnancy is determined from the date of your last period, even if you had not conceived yet.

The calculation of your due date is done from the first day of your last period. Hence, you may not have any symptoms for the first few weeks, but they would also be included in your 40-week pregnancy. Here is a list of pregnancy symptoms showing which of them appear in which week – [1]

Early pregnancy – Cramping and spotting

From week 1-4 of pregnancy, everything still stays on a cellular level. The egg that was fertilised with a sperm starts creating blastocyst which will go on to develop into the organs of the baby.

In around the first 10-14 days, the blastocyst will get into the endometrium of the woman. This often leads to implantation bleeding that people may misjudge as a light period.

However, there are some signs to identify implantation bleeding. Have a look –

  • Color: The colour of such bleeding may vary. Sometimes, it may be red, brown or pink.
  • Bleeding: Bleeding usually seems like a normal menstrual period, but spotting is identified by blood present only when wiping.
  • Pain: The severity of pain also varies in different women. Its intensity differs from mild to severe in different women.
  • Episodes: The biggest difference between menstrual period and implantation bleeding is their duration. This kind of bleeding usually lasts for not more than 3 days, and ends without any medications or treatment.

The women who smoke, drink alcohol or do drugs can suffer heavier bleeding.

Missed period

The woman’s body produces human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) after the implantation process is complete. This hormone helps the body in maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and also stops ovaries from releasing mature eggs every month.

Usually, the woman misses her next period four weeks post conception. If the woman already suffers from irregular periods, she must take a pregnancy test to be sure.

The home tests can detect hCG around eight days after a missed period.

More early pregnancy symptoms

  • Higher body temperature – Raised body temperature is also a sign of early pregnancy. The body temperature may also go up quickly while exercising or while being in hot weather for too long. Experts advise to drink adequate amounts of water and exercise cautiously during this time[2].
  • Fatigue – Fatigue is a very common symptom of early pregnancy, and it stays even in the later stages of pregnancy as well. During early pregnancy, your progesterone levels rise, which induces sleepiness.
  • Increased heart rate – During the 8-10th week of pregnancy, the heart begins pumping harder and faster. This makes palpitations and arrhythmias very common during pregnancy.
  • Tingling, aching and growing breasts – During the 4-6th week of pregnancy, the breasts begin to change. The woman generally has tender and swollen breasts because of hormonal changes. It usually disappears after a few weeks, as the pregnant lady’s body adapts to the hormonal changes. Somewhere around the 11th week of pregnancy, hormones may keep enlarging your breasts. The areola, area around the nipple, may get bigger and darker in colour
  • Mood swings – During the early days of pregnancy, the woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels stay high. This can bring steep changes in your mood. You may get more emotional, or bring feelings of anxiety, depression, euphoria and irritability.
  • Frequent urination – As your heart starts pumping more blood during pregnancy, it makes your kidneys to process more fluids that they usually do. It raises the fluid-level in your bladder. Apart from this, bladder health is also impacted due to hormones. It usually makes pregnant women running to the bathroom more frequently. Sometimes, you may observe accidental leakage as well.

More severe pregnancy symptoms

  • Bloating and constipation – Bloating is also a very common occurrence during early pregnancy. This often is a result of hormonal changes that show down the digestive system. This leads to the woman feeling blocked and constipated.
  • Morning sickness, nausea and vomiting – Women usually suffer from morning sickness around 4-6 week of pregnancy. Moreover, unlike its name, it is not limited morning, and may occur any time of the day or night. It can be mild to severe during the first trimester. However, its severity lowers in the second trimester.
  • High BP and dizziness – The blood pressure of almost every pregnant woman drops during the early days of pregnancy. As your blood vessels are dilated during pregnancy, you may feel dizziness. High blood pressure, on the other hand, often indicates underlying problems if observed during the initial 20 weeks from conception.
  • Smell sensitivity and food aversions – Smell sensitivity is also one of the very common early pregnancy symptoms. It often leads to nausea and vomiting. It may also develop a strong disliking for certain foods.
  • Weight gain – Weight gain is a common occurrence among women whose first trimester is about to be over. Generally, a woman puts on 1-4 pounds during the first few weeks. Moreover, your calorie requirements do not increase during the initial weeks of pregnancy.

Other early pregnancy symptoms

  • Heartburn – The valve between your stomach and esophagus gets relaxed due to the presence of hormones. This process leads to leakage of stomach acid triggering heartburn.
  • Pregnancy glow and acne – You may also get compliments for having “pregnancy glow” during this time. It happens because of increased blood volume and raised hormonal levels pushing more blood into the vessels, eventually causing your oil glands to work overtime. This process gives your face a flushed, glossy appearance. Moreover, it may also cause acne.

Takeaway

Pregnancy usually is the most memorable time of every woman’s life, but it requires extra care and attention to keep the baby and the mother absolutely safe. Generally, the symptoms women face during the first trimester of pregnancy, start disappearing as soon as they enter the second trimester. Still, if you face any specific sort of trouble during any phase of pregnancy, you should immediately get in touch with a gynaecologist.

References –
[1] – Stages of pregnancy
[2] – Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period

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