|Early Pregnancy Symptoms
During pregnancy, hormones trigger huge changes in the body which affect nearly every organ. These changes can trigger symptoms from the moment of conception, when egg meets sperm. Initially you may not even be aware that you are pregnant, but some of the early signs of pregnancy may give the game away. These include cramping and spotting (implantation bleeding), tender breasts or sudden overwhelming tiredness. Around week 6, you may start to experience morning sickness, although some women experience nausea within the first week of conception. Your taste and smell sensitiveness might change and you could develop hot flashes due to increased hormone levels (similar to menopause hot flashes). As your body changes, you will need to make adjustments to your daily routine by for example taking more naps and eating smaller meals more frequently. The following is an extensive list of the most common changes a woman can undergo. As woman experiences pregnancy differently, you may experience all symptoms, none or just some.
One of the most dreaded, yet most common symptoms of pregnancy. Morning sickness or nausea can start within a few days of conception, but is more common after week 6. It usually subsides by the second trimester. A severe form of vomiting and nausea is called hyperemesis gravidarum.
Slow bowel movements or constipation in pregnancy is a common occurrence and can last throughout pregnancy. The luteinizing hormone (LH) plays a major role in slowing your system down, as well as pressure on the colon from an enlarged womb. Prenatal vitamins which contain high levels of iron are also known factors.
A change in taste buds sensitivity to foods can appear within the first 2 months of pregnancy, but may even occur before a missed period. Many pregnant women report a metallic taste in the mouth, which can be exacerbated by increased hormone levels and prenatal vitamins.
Many women experience pregnancy cravings for certain foods, such as pickled gherkins, fruit, cheese, eggs or peanut butter. Weird cravings for non-food items like soap, dirt and chalk are also quite common. This phenomenon is known as Pica.
Pelvic pain during pregnancy can start as early as the first trimester, although it is more common from week 10 onwards.
Changes to the breasts are often one of the first signs of pregnancy (images). Nipples can become tender to touch and the area around them (the areola) becomes darker. Breast enlargement usually starts in the second trimester, but may begin as early as week 6. Leaking colostrum, or pre-milk, may happen in the third trimester of pregnancy (or late second trimester), but many women do not leak milk until after labor. See pregnancy breast changes and our question how early does nipple discharge start in pregnancy?
Lower back pain while pregnant is more common in the third trimester when the mechanics of the body change. Extra weight and softer ligaments can put pressure on the body causing aches and pains.
Enlarged or swollen veins which appear on the legs, breasts, vulva, or groin area (image). Pregnancy varicose veins tend to become more prominent during the second trimester.
Also called piles, pregnancy hemorrhoids are clusters of swollen veins (varicose veins in fact) which occur in or around the bottom (image). They are more common in late pregnancy and after a vaginal delivery.
Stretch marks are reddish pink marks which appear across the skin during pregnancy, more commonly in the last trimester when the skin is stretched to its limit (image).
Dizzy spells are more common in the first trimester when increased volumes of blood pump through the veins, towards the growing fetus. An iron deficiency may also play a role. See dizziness while pregnant.
Implantation cramping, or pregnancy cramps, accompanied with spotting can happen within 7-12 days of conception. By the second trimester of pregnancy you may experience cramping on one side of the lower abdomen, this is linked to ligaments stretching and a growing uterus. Leg cramps, particularly while sleeping are also common. Closer to delivery, false labor cramps, known as Braxton Hicks Contractions might appear. If cramping occurs with bleeding during pregnancy this is sometimes an indication of impending complications.
Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPS rash): This itchy rash (image) initially appears in stretch marks but can then spread to the arms, thighs, breasts, buttocks and arms. PUPPS is always harmless, but it can be quite annoying. It more commonly appears in the third trimester - about week 35 - and spontaneously disappears within 1-2 weeks of childbirth.
More common during the first and third trimester. Probably caused by hormones and increased blood volume levels in early pregnancy. Headaches may be linked to stress and increased body weight in the last trimester. Contact your doctor however if you experience continuous headaches in the last 3 months of pregnancy.
Need To Urinate More Frequently
Typically this happens within 6 weeks of conception. Increased blood flow through the body results in extra fluids being processed by the kidneys, ending up in the bladder. Later in pregnancy the need to urinate more frequently is likely to be related to pressure on the bladder from a growing uterus. See also kegels exercise for preventing urinary incontinence.
Feeling out of breath is more common in late pregnancy when the enlarged uterus pushes other organs out of the way - as a result the lungs have less room to expand and breathe. This is usually resolved a week or two before your pregnancy due date when the baby drops and enters the birth canal.
Nosebleeds & Stuffy Nose
Nasal congestion, also called rhinitis of pregnancy effects up to 30 percent of pregnant women. It can start as early as the second month of pregnancy and last until childbirth. It is caused by increased estrogen levels which may cause more mucus production in the nose. One of the side effects of increased nasal congestion is nose bleeds. Do be sure to mention any issues like this with your pregnancy healthcare team.
40 percent of pregnant women report worsening hair condition during pregnancy. Some women experience hair loss, but this usually corrects itself within 3 to 4 months after delivery. Many other women however claim their hair grew stronger, which could be a benefit of extra estrogen hormones.
If you are expecting your first baby it may be worth checking our pregnancy tips for some do's and don'ts. You may even consider the services of a doula.
About 10 percent of women experience hot flashes during pregnancy, although up to 90 percent may experienced it postpartum. Hot flashes are related to hormone levels and are perfectly normal. Enjoy the moment, the next time you experience a hot flash, it could be menopause symptoms!
Gum and Teeth Problems
There are a variety of dental problems which pregnant women may be more prone to. These are pregnancy gingivitis, periodontal disease and in a few cases pregnancy tumors. Gingivitis is the most common dental problem, affecting up to 50 percent of pregnant women. This condition causes the gums to inflame and turn red. It can also trigger bleeding gums when flossing and brushing. Ideally before you become pregnant, as part of preparing for pregnancy, ask your dentist to check your teeth and gums and fix any problems in advance.
Studies carried out by the National Sleep Foundation discovered that 3 out of 4 women complained of more sleep disruptions during pregnancy than before pregnancy. Common sleep problems included difficulties falling asleep, frequent wakening and reduced overall quality of sleep - all which led to daytime exhaustion. It is also noted that the risk of developing sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome increases when expecting.
Other Common Occurrences During Pregnancy
• Heartburn, Acid Reflux
• Mood swings
• Heart Palpitations
• Pins & Needles
• Ovarian Cysts During Pregnancy
• Urinary Tract Infections
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For more Q&A's see our section: womens health questions.