Getting pregnant is a big deal on all levels. One can expect that pregnancy will affect them mentally, physically, and emotionally. For those who want to get pregnant, waiting for a positive urine stick result can be agony. For those who are NOT trying to get pregnant, the shock of finding out they are (often many weeks into the pregnancy) can be incredibly difficult.
The body often gives signs of pregnancy well before a urine pregnancy test will test positive. For those who are highly tuned into their bodies, the symptoms are obvious. However, there is no "golden rule" in any of this. In other words, those who experience symptoms will have any number of them in varying levels of intensity and some may not have any signs of pregnancy at all.
When the signs begin
Some research suggests that the body does not show any symptoms of pregnancy until the fertilized eggs actually implants into the uterine lining (at least 7-10 days after ovulation). However, many women claim they can feel symptoms much earlier than that such as a few days after ovulation/fertilization.
Early signs of pregnancy
Generally, signs of pregnancy emulate signs of PMS. This can make it frustrating for anyone who is hoping to get pregnant and just finds out that she is pre-menstrual. Progesterone plays a role in causing PMS; levels of progesterone rise right away with pregnancy which causes the early signs of pregnancy. Thus, progesterone is the major contributor in causing most symptoms associated with pregnancy.
These are some of the most commmon signs of early pregnancy:
- Cramping. It is not uncommon to experience cramping as the egg implants into the uterine lining. This cramping can be mild or somewhat more intense. It generally begins earlier in the cycle than PMS cramps might.
- Bleeding. Some women will have light bleeding or spotting upon implantation of the fertilized egg. This implantation spottingcould be mistaken as a period except that it is lighter and occurs earlier in the cycle.
- Nausea. Many women experience nausea very early on. The nausea can be so extreme that women may vomit. While nausea is often called "morning sickness," it can occur at anytime of the day. For some women it get better with eating as it is the emptiness of the stomach that can trigger it. Nausea can occur anytime of the day Generally nausea is a sign that accompanies early pregnancy but not PMS. Pregnancy related nausea generally goes away at the end of the first trimester.
- Increased appetite. It is common to have an increase in appetite immediately. Many women notice that they are hungry more often and that it takes more food to satiate their hunger.
- Food cravings. Some women report having strong food cravings from the earliest weeks of pregnancy. Food cravings might include increased desire for salty foods, sweets, or fats. Similarly, one might experience aversion to certain foods. These food cravings might be related to mild vitamin deficiencies and are minimized by regularly taking a prenatal vitamin.
- Heightened sense of smell. Many women immediately notice an increase in sensitivity to smells, both pleasant and unpleasant ones. 'Bad' smells can be intolerable when they were previously not noticeable. Some claim they can smell food cooking in restaurants from a block away.
- Mood swings. Hormones spike right away with pregnancy. This can cause increased volatility in moods, such as irritation, frustration and crying. For some mood swings can emulate those associated with PMS and for others, they are far more intense.
- Sore breasts.For some women sore breasts is the 'giveaway' or their most obvious sign. While sore breasts are common with PMS, but the soreness with pregnancy can be more intense. Soreess can occur earlier than they would with PMS and the soreness is generally more extreme. Nipple tenderness can be so heightened that it is difficult to take a shower without lots of discomfort.
- Darkening of the areolas. While it is not that common to notice a darkening of the areolas in the first 4 weeks of pregnancy, it is a sure sign of pregnancy. The darkening of the areolas is characterized by a browning or deeper reddening of the circle of dark skin surrounding the nipple (known as the areola.)
- Fatigue. Similar to PMS, it is common to feel fatigued in the early days of pregnancy. Generally the fatigue continues through the first trimester. There are some reported cases of insomnia very early on in pregnancy as well. Sleep problems (insomnia or excess need of) can be attributed to the changing hormone levels in the body.
- Headaches. Some women experience headaches with PMS due to changes in hormonal levels. The same thing can happen with pregnancy. Headaches are very common and can become more intense after the first few weeks of pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy diet and a regular eating schedule can help this.
- Dizziness or Faintness. Changes in hormonal levels and greater sensitvity to low blood sugar levels in the early days can cause dizziness. In the later weeks and months, an increase in blood circulation might also cause faintness (as well as increased heart rate.)
- Increased need for urination. While most women will feel the need to urinate more in the later stages of their pregnancy, some women experience this symptom right away. A swelling uterus can push on the bladder and create the sensation of needing to urinate.
- Constipation. Due to all the changes in the body, most women experience constipation at some point during their pregnancy. However, it is possible to experience constipation right away (with the rise in progesterone levels.) Note that some women experience constipation right before getting their periods as well.
- Increased basal body temperature. If you have been charting your temperature during your cycle, you may notice an additional increase once the fertilized egg begins to implant. This does not happen in all cases but a triphasic elevation in temperture can be a pretty good predictor of pregnancy, (as can an elevated temperature for more than 16 days post ovulation).
- Intuition. This seems very 'unscientific' but many women claim they knew they were pregnant. It is very likely that women have a strong intuition for what is going on in their bodies and since pregnancy is such a major shift, it would not be unheard of to simply intuit it.
- Missed period. The most obvious sign of pregnancy, especially if it accompanies these other signs, is a missed period. For women whose mentrual cycles are extremely regular, a missed period could be a sure sign of pregnancy. However, it is important to know that stress, illness and other factors can cause anyone to have irregular or late periods.
If you think you are pregnant
If you are expressing many of these symptoms of pregnancy and you think you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test. If you have not yet missed your period and the test is negative, wait a few days and take it again. If the test continues to be negative, check with your doctor to see if they can do a blood test.
The first four weeks of pregnancy are, in many ways, the most pivotal. During this time, the brain and other major systems in the body are developing. As a result, proper nutrition and prenatal care are essential for a healthy pregnancy and baby. So, if you suspect you are pregnant, it is best to make lifestyle shifts (ie, no drinking, smoking, drug-use, etc.) until you know for sure you are not pregnant.
For those who do not want to be pregnant, it is also important to listen to signs in the body. Ignoring an early pregnancy can make it harder both physically and emotionally to terminate.
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