The Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

“Am I pregnant?” is probably the most common health question women ask. The signs symptoms of early pregnancy are easy to recognize – even more so when this is not your first pregnancy. Whether this is your first, second, or third pregnancy, the signs and symptoms are the same. However during one pregnancy, you may experience incredible breast pain or nausea and vomiting, while during another pregnancy you might not experience these symptoms at all. The simple fact is that each pregnancy, just like each newborn, is different and you can’t count on having the same symptoms or the same intensity of symptoms during consecutive pregnancies

Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms

Fatigue or unusual tiredness

Early pregnancy is time when a woman’s body is working very hard to keep up with the changes that occur. This means increased hormone production, as well as the fact that the heart is pumping harder and faster due to the escalation of blood flow – necessary to bring nutrients to the growing fetus. Increased progesterone production is the primary reason for the extra fatigue most pregnant women experience early in their pregnancy. Another reason for fatigue and unusual tiredness during early pregnancy are the emotional extremes experienced often during pregnancy. It’s not uncommon for a pregnant woman to burst into tears for no apparent reason other than the hormonal rise and fall that occur during this time. This symptom is also a sign to get more sleep before your baby arrives when you’ll need your energy to care for your newborn baby.

Late or missed periods

The most common reason for missing your period is pregnancy and this is often the first sign that makes you suspect pregnancy. Only a pregnancy test followed by a pelvic exam, can tell you positively whether you are pregnant. Once your health care provider rules out pregnancy as the cause of your late or missed periods, the next step is usually to rule in or out several other possible explanations for absence of menstruation.

Light bleeding and/or cramping

The most common reason for light bleeding during early pregnancy is implantation. Implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterine lining and usually occurs about 10 to 14 days after conception. Bleeding caused by implantation is very light, often the only sign you might notice that indicates implantation has occurred is a small spot of blood .Cramping that is similar to menstrual cramps occurs very early during pregnancy and happens when the uterus begins to expand to make room for the embryo to develop into a fetus that continues to develop for a total of 40 weeks gestation when your baby is born.

Swollen, tender, or sore breasts

Often this is the first physical sign of pregnancy. In fact, some women know when they are pregnant based on this sign alone. The reason breasts and/ or nipples are often sore, swollen, or tender during early pregnancy is because the breasts are undergoing changes to prepare for breastfeeding. The reason for this is the increased production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone that occurs and the breasts and/ or nipples are often particularly painful during a first pregnancy

Morning sickness

Nausea during pregnancy can occur with or without vomiting. While morning sickness is most common between weeks four and eight during pregnancy, many women experience this symptom beginning about two weeks from their date of conception. Morning sickness is a misnomer since it can, and often does, occur at anytime of the day or night. The most common reason for this symptom seems to be the rapid rise in estrogen, produced by the fetus and placenta. Another trigger for nausea is odors. During pregnancy, a woman’s sense of smell increases considerably and can make almost anything from everyday household odors, foods, perfume, and smoke, to name a few, trigger a bout of morning sickness or nausea and vomiting. The most common foods to cause morning sickness are coffee during the first weeks of pregnancy, meat, dairy products, and spicy foods. However, it’s essential to understand that literally anything can trigger nausea and/ or vomiting during pregnancy. In fact, I personally know someone who became nauseated during one of her pregnancies every time she passed a microwave in operation.

Running to the bathroom

During the first trimester of pregnancy, it’s easy to believe you might have to “move” into your bathroom since it seems you are constantly running to make to the bathroom. The growing uterus causes frequent urination during pregnancy. The first and third trimesters of pregnancy are typically when the most intense frequent urination happens. While the signs and symptoms of early pregnancy listed on the previous page are the most common, other symptoms can, and often do, occur in pregnancy. Other pregnancy symptoms include:

Headaches

Headaches that occur during pregnancy are often intense and caused by increased hormone levels.

Mood swings

Don’t think you’re crazy if you suddenly develop atypical mood swings or if you are unusually emotional during pregnancy, these are very normal reactions during pregnancy. Many times, pregnant women burst into tears for reasons that are unclear to anyone, including the pregnant woman. Another symptom caused by increased hormone levels.

Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy

Caused by the circulatory system as dilation of the blood vessels occur. Low blood sugar, early in pregnancy, also triggers these symptoms.

Constipation

Food digests slower than usual during pregnancy due to increased progesterone production. Slower digestion sometimes causes constipation during pregnancy.

If you experience the signs and symptoms of pregnancy, buy a home pregnancy test and see your doctor – either to begin prenatal care and confirm your pregnancy or to determine the cause of your symptoms if you’re not pregnant.

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