Celebrating pregnancy

All of a sudden, you feel different. You’re dizzy for no apparent reason. Your breasts seem to have grown heavier. You want to go to bed and doze off more often. The month has come and gone, yet your expected period is nowhere in sight.

Are these symptoms early pregnancy signs? While each female body is different, the early pregnancy signs have things in common. They point to a new life growing inside you.

If you’re of childbearing age, and exhibit these five early pregnancy signs, it’s time to take a pregnancy test and consult your physician.1

  • A skipped period: This is the most common early pregnancy sign. Once you conceive, your body manufactures hormones that halt ovulation and the shedding of your uterus lining. This means your monthly menstrual cycle has stopped and your next period won’t come again until you give birth. But a missed period isn’t always an early pregnancy sign. A missed period can also stem from stress, extreme exercise, dieting, hormone issues and other reasons for irregular monthly cycles.

  • Increased need to urinate: Before you even skip a period, you may notice that you need to make more frequent trips to the restroom. This is another early pregnancy sign. The amount of blood in your body rises during pregnancy.2 This extra supply makes your kidneys filter your blood and get rid of the excess waste. This waste exits your body in the form of urine. The more blood in your body, the more bathroom trips you have to make.

  • Feeling tired or spent: Fatigue is an early pregnancy sign. This is because many women have high levels of the ‘sleepy hormone’ progesterone. This hormone makes the brain produce gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which promotes sleep.3

  • Morning (and noon and night) sickness: The name of this early pregnancy sign is deceiving. This is because it can make you drop whatever you are doing at any time of the day or night. Nausea can strike as early as two weeks into a pregnancy or a few months after you conceive.

According to the Pregnancy Association of America, 25 percent of women feel nausea as an early pregnancy sign.4 But not all pregnant women experience nausea. Those who do encounter it in different ways. Some have nausea without throwing up. Others have nausea along with vomiting. Around half of pregnant women throw up. Though nausea during pregnancy is common, it can cause problems if you get dehydrated. Women could develop hyperemesis gravidarum, which is marked by excess nausea, vomiting, and loss of weight. Several nausea and dehydration are conditions you should not ignore. Reach out to your doctor when you experience them.5

  • Sore, swollen and enlarged breasts: The Pregnancy Association of America reports that 17 percent of women observe changes in their breasts as an early pregnancy sign. The breasts feel tender when touched.6 The soreness mimics how the breasts feel before a menstrual cycle, only more so.

This should not worry you. The sore feeling goes away when your body gets accustomed to having more than the usual supply of hormones. And because your breast is getting bigger, you may also observe that your bra is getting tighter.

There are other less common signs of early pregnancy.7 These include:

  • Spotting (or implantation bleeding) many days after implantation

  • Food cravings and aversions and a bigger appetite

  • Metallic taste, similar to that of coins, in the mouth

  • Headaches and lightheadedness due to hormonal shifts and a swelling volume of blood

  • Cramps, which, when confined to one side of the body, or are severe, may mean ectopic pregnancy or other complications

  • Moodiness due to hormonal changes

The only way to find out if these early pregnancy signs mean you’re nurturing a new life, is through a pregnancy test. It measures the amount of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which starts increasing in your body the moment you conceive.8

Be prepared to give your full medical history on your first pre-natal check-up.9 Pregnancy can turn out to be a journey of discovery about yourself and your partner. Heeding early pregnancy signs is your first step in enjoying this important phase of your life.

 

REFERENCES:

1. Pregnancy week by week (2020) Retrieved July 18, 2020 from:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20047208

2. Frequent Urination During Pregnancy. Retrieved September 29, 2020 from:
https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/frequent-urination.aspx

3. How Hormones Affect Your Sleep. Retrieved September 29, 2020 from:
https://thriva.co/hub/womens-health/how-hormones-affect-your-sleep

4. Pregnancy symptoms -Early signs of pregnancy (n.d.) Retrieved July 18, 2020 from:
https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/early-pregnancy-symptoms/

5. Pregnancy:Am I pregnant? (Year last reviewed: 2020) Retrieved July 18, 2020 from:
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9709-pregnancy-am-i-pregnant

6. Early Signs of Pregnancy. Retrieved September 29, 2020 from:
https://americanpregnancy.org/home-page-featured/early-signs-of-pregnancy-71062

7. Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy (n.d.) Retrieved July 18, 2020 Retrieved July 18, 2020 from:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/signs-and-symptoms-pregnancy/

8. What to Know About HCG Pregnancy Tests (Last medically reviewed in 2019) Retrieved July 18, 2020 from:
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327284

9. Pregnancy: First pre-natal visit (2019) Retrieved July 18, 2020 from:
https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa87847j