Pregnancy symptoms differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. Symptoms depend on some factors, like the woman’s health and whether the pregnancy is normal or has complications. For example, abdominal pain occurs in 90-100% of women, and unexpected bleeding through the vagina in 50-80%, whereas dizziness and fainting occur in about one third of women.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of pregnancy is important because each symptom may be related to something other than pregnancy. Some women experience signs or symptoms of pregnancy within a week of conception. For other women, pregnancy symptoms may develop over a few weeks or may not be present at all.
In this article, we will look at some of the most common pregnancy symptoms and warning signs and how to deal with them.
Common signs of being pregnant
If you have been sexually active without using protection and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may consider taking a pregnancy test.
- Absent or delayed menstruation: One of the first obvious signs of being pregnant is missing your monthly cycle. Often, this is the first sign that alerts a woman to other signs of being pregnant. If you miss your period and are sexually active, you should strongly consider taking a home pregnancy test. Remember that no form of contraception is 100% fail-proof.
- Changes in your breasts: You may feel a tingling sensation in your nipples within a week or so of conception. Pregnancy hormones increase the blood supply to your breasts, particularly around the nipples. Once your body gets used to the hormone surge, the sensation will subside.
- Your breasts may become increasingly tender to the touch. This tenderness is similar to how they feel before your period, only more so. You may notice that your breasts are larger and swollen, with blue veins visible just below the skin. Tenderness tends to be most common in the first trimester, easing as pregnancy progresses.
- Fatigue and frequent urination: You may experience frequent trips to the bathroom. Throughout your pregnancy, your swelling uterus puts great pressure on the bladder, which often makes you urinate more frequently than normal.
- Increased vaginal discharge: In early pregnancy, you will notice that there is an increase in vaginal discharge that is usually without any pain or irritation. It is called leucorrhea and it is a mild smelling milky fluid.
- Nausea and morning sickness: Most women start to feel sick specifically in the morning, but in reality, nausea can strike at any time of day. This symptom is most likely in the first trimester.
- Sensitivity to odors and “stopping” certain things: During pregnancy, familiar odors become extremely unbearable, and even some of your favorite foods may become less attractive. The smell of coffee, tea, smoke or fatty foods are easily off-putting. These cravings and aversions can be unpredictable, but up to 80 percent of pregnant women report cravings, and up to 85 percent say they’re repelled by certain foods.
- Constipation and headaches: Due to increased hormone levels, the digestion process slows, and the colon begins to absorb water, which can result in constipation. Because of the intense hormonal activity that occurs in early pregnancy, some women also suffer from frequent headaches in early pregnancy.
Warning signs of being pregnant
Pregnancy can be uncomfortable in many ways throughout the nine month period. But while some symptoms are indications of a healthy pregnancy, others could be a sign of pregnancy complications. Only your physician can provide you with definitive answers, but knowing some of the common risks and their symptoms can help mothers decide whether to seek professional advice. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution.
- Persistent nausea: Nausea and vomiting are two of the more common symptoms of pregnancy, affecting about half of all women. In about 1% of cases, the vomiting and nausea is so severe that it can cause malnutrition or dehydration. If you’re worried that you might be one of the 1%, make a note of how often you vomit or have a stomachache, the severity of the pain and its duration, and tell your doctor at your next appointment. As the old adage goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Severe pelvic or abdominal pain that goes beyond what might accompany a normal gastrointestinal upset in the early months of pregnancy may be a sign of a tubal pregnancy. A tubal pregnancy is a condition in which the fertilized ovum attaches to the fallopian tube rather than further down, in the uterus. Later on, it may signal that the placenta has separated from the uterus.
- High fever: If fever rises above 100F (37.8C), seek immediate medical attention. Infection or viral illness can cause premature labor, and a high fever can put your baby at risk. Don’t panic, just get yourself on the phone and discuss the situation with your physician.
- Reduced or lack of fetal movement: After six months of pregnancy, your baby should be kicking up a storm. Any substantial reduction in frequency or persistent lack of movement of your baby should be discussed with your doctor. Fetal distress is one possibility, but a correct diagnosis can only be supplied by a professional.
- Vaginal bleeding: Have this checked right away, especially if it occurs more than two weeks prior to the due date. Any sign of bleeding could be an indication that the amniotic sac has separated from the uterus. This should be dealt with immediately.
Strange signs of being pregnant
Here are some unexpected pregnancy symptoms that you may experience during pregnancy:
- Spider Veins: The appearance of the veins surrounding the chest and upper arms is one of the more unusual early pregnancy symptoms. This symptom can be distressing, especially if the veins are prominent. However, doctors suggest there is no reason to worry about the spider veins, as they simply result from an increased blood flow to the body and will disappear post-birth.
- Nasal Congestion: Up to 30 percent of pregnant women have congestion during pregnancy. Often, it is worse during the night. This condition even has a name: rhinitis of pregnancy.
- Metallic Taste: You may feel a metallic taste during pregnancy. Metallic tastes are considered one of the unusual early pregnancy symptoms and are caused due to hormonal changes in your body.
- Flatulence: Flatulence may be one of the more embarrassing signs of being pregnant. To avoid this symptom, exercise regularly, avoid gassy foods, drink lots of water, and if it does not subside, consider going to the doctor.
- Production of Excessive Saliva: Many expecting mothers experience excessive saliva.
- Cramping in legs: Leg pain at night is a common symptom of pregnancy. It is most common during the second half of pregnancy. Some women find that a magnesium supplement and their pre-natal vitamins ease this symptom.
- Facial Hair and Pigmentation: Hail and nail growth can increase during pregnancy, including facial hair. Don’t be alarmed – it is highly likely that it will disappear post-birth. Increased facial pigmentation is also a common symptom that should disappear once your baby is born. It is known as the “mask of pregnancy.”
If you are sexually active and have not used adequate protection, you should consider taking a home pregnancy test, especially if you miss your period or you notice other pregnancy symptoms. Most women notice at least one sign or symptom during pregnancy. While they can be a challenge or an inconvenience, the good news is that most are merely indications of a healthy body and pregnancy. If any of your symptoms indicate pregnancy complications, seek medical help immediately.