The Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy (I)

Pregnancy symptoms can differ from woman to woman, and in fact, symptoms may be different from one pregnancy to another in the same woman. Some women experience symptoms within a week of conception and for other women, symptoms may develop over a few weeks or may not be present at all.   These pregnancy symptoms can also vary in their intensity, frequency and duration. Many of these very early symptoms are similar to routine pre-menstrual discomforts.   Some women sail through pregnancy problem free, while others seem to experience all the symptoms.

The first indication that a woman might be pregnant is often a missed menstrual period. Home pregnancy kits test for a hormone that is produced during pregnancy, human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG.   The test will only be positive (indicating you are pregnant) if the level of hCG in your system is sufficient when you do the testing. A home test kit can show a negative result (indicating you are not pregnant) even though you may actually be pregnant. If you are late for your period, waiting seven to ten days before trying a home pregnancy test is recommended. Many test kits state accurate results can be obtained "as early as the first day of the missed period," but testing too early may lead to an inaccurate result.   If the result is negative, wait a few days and repeat the test or contact your doctor who can perform a simple blood test. Blood tests are the most accurate tests for determining pregnancy and can be performed seven to ten days post-ovulation. Although it is rare, some women may have a period throughout their pregnancy.

Some women will experience implantation bleeding as the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. The bleeding is very light and usually has a shorter duration than a normal period.

Morning sickness is a very common sign of pregnancy and can be felt any time of the day, in fact, some women can feel queasy all day.   It usually affects roughly fifty percent of pregnant women and will often begin anywhere from one to eight weeks after conception and will likely disappear toward the end of the first trimester as your body adjusts to the many changes it is going through.

Breast tenderness, caused by increasing levels of hormones as your body begins preparing your breasts for milk production and breastfeeding, is experienced by many women, both during pregnancy and prior to their periods.   Swollen or tender breast may begin as early as one to two weeks after conception and usually disappears during the second trimester.  

Headaches are more common in pregnancy due to the sudden rise in hormones, especially in early pregnancy. They may be a pregnancy symptom, but they are not necessarily a pregnancy sign. There are many other things that can cause them, including stress.

Hormonal changes in early pregnancy may leave you feeling bloated, but again, bloating is a symptom of pregnancy, not necessarily a sign, since some women can experience bloating prior to a period.   Clothing will start to feel tighter especially around the waistline, even early in the pregnancy when the uterus is still small.  

Unavoidable weight gain is also a sign of pregnancy.

Vaginal discharge, without itching or burning, may be a sign of pregnancy. The cervix is building your mucous plug to block the opening of the cervix to help protect your baby from infections, etc. You might notice a slight increase in vaginal secretions. Again, it's shouldn't smell, burn or itch. These would be signs of infection that would require proper medical treatment.

Feeling fatigued or more tired is a pregnancy symptom which can also start as early as the first week after conception. No one knows for sure what causes early pregnancy fatigue, but it's possible that all of the changes that your body is going through, coupled with the rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone, are contributing to that tired feeling.   Energy returns at the beginning of the second trimester, but fatigue usually returns late in the pregnancy since you will be carrying around a lot more weight and the common discomforts of pregnancy make it more difficult to sleep.   Taking frequent short naps are very beneficial to overall feelings of well being.

Lower backaches may be a symptom that occurs early in pregnancy, with about half of all women experiencing this symptom; any yet, it is very common for a number of women to experience a dull backache throughout an entire pregnancy. This low back pain is caused by several factors, the inevitable weight gain caused by the pregnancy itself as the uterus gets bigger and the baby grows larger every week. As these changes occur, the posture and torso are thrown out of alignment. This extra weight is carried in the front of the torso, which pulls on the back. It is like wearing a backpack on your front instead of on your back. This changes your posture and puts a strain on your back. It is extremely difficult to get a good night's sleep trying to find a comfortable position. If you are lying on your side the weight of your womb pulls on your back muscles. Sleeping with a maternity pillow can help make you more comfortable. As your body prepares for birth, you experience many hormone and body changes and at the same time some of your joints and ligaments are loosening up to make delivery possible. All of these changes can cause the early pregnancy symptom of low back pain.  

Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy Part II

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