Early pregnancy symptoms

Pregnancy | | Louise Broadbridge


What are the common early signs of pregnancy?

For those not actively trying to conceive, some of the earlier signs of pregnancy may well pass you by. But for those on a mission to plant the seed that grows a tiny human, it is good to know what to look out for.

One of the most obvious is a missed or late period. If your cycle is regular, and you usually know exactly when you will be menstruating, being late could well be a sign that you are pregnant. That said, stress can play havoc with your regular pattern so a missed period is not a 100% guarantee that you have a baby on the way. And to further confuse things, some very light bleeding or ‘spotting’ is really not unusual in the early weeks of pregnancy – a natural response to the implantation of the fertilised egg into the lining of the uterus.

Sickness & nausea

It’s pretty unfair to label this horrible side effect of pregnancy as ‘morning sickness’, as it really can come (and stay) at any time of the day. However, feeling green or actually vomiting is another well-known sign that you may be pregnant. Usually starting between 4 and 6 weeks, morning sickness is thought to be caused by an increase in pregnancy hormones such as human chorionic gonadotropin (HcG). It should hopefully settle around 12 – 13 weeks when your placenta takes over the driving and things tend to settle down a little.

For an unfortunate few, pregnancy sickness can be really quite extreme and debilitating. Hyperemesis gravidarum can be very serious in pregnancy because it can lead to dehydration, which is not good for you or your baby. If you are being sick more than 2 or 3 times per day, or you are unable to function normally, speak to your doctor or midwife, as you may need medical support.

Mood swings

Suddenly want to rip the head of anyone who says “hello”? Pregnancy brings with it lots of both physical and emotional changes and it is not surprising you may feel a little off-kilter. Don’t be too surprised if you are tearful or generally feeling a bit down. If the feeling persists, it is worth mentioning to your healthcare professional so that you can get a little extra support if you need it.

Wish you could take a port-a-loo with you on your travels?

The first trimester can leave you feeling like it may be a good idea to set up your desk in the bathroom. Believe it or not, the need to wee almost as often as the need to breathe is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of the early stages of pregnancy, and can start as early as 4 weeks. This does tend to settle in the 2nd trimester but the need can reappear later on as your baby starts to push down on your bladder. Frequent urination in the early weeks can be blamed on increased hormone levels, specifically the pregnancy hormone HcG, as this increases the blood flow to your kidneys!

Nose like a wolfhound?

Don’t be surprised if your sense of smell seems suddenly superhuman, and massively oversensitive. Foods you once looked forward to can have you gagging before you’ve even unwrapped them, and you may find you are suddenly craving things you wouldn’t normally reach for. Don’t worry! This is another of those ‘normal’ occurrences of pregnancy. Some women also report a strange metallic taste in their mouth; this is those pesky hormones at play again. The good news is that all of this will disappear once your baby is here.

Sore breasts and fatigue

Feeling exhausted in those first few weeks shouldn’t really come as a surprise when you stop to consider the magnitude of the work your body is doing. In the first 12 weeks your fertilised egg is dividing at a rapid rate to form layers of cells that will implant in the uterine wall. Growth in this period is faster than at any other time of the pregnancy as all baby’s vital organs are developing. Added to that you are also growing a placenta. Your placenta will be ready by week 12-13 to take over the running of things, but until then, given you are growing both a baby and a new organ, tiredness is a given. Your breasts are also starting to get ready for the work ahead and will be making all the necessary changes needed to enable to you breastfeed your baby, should you want to. This can result in your breasts feeling tender in the first few weeks.

Remember - every pregnancy is different and you may experience all or none of these symptoms or a balance in between. As difficult as it sounds, try to rest as much as possible as your body adapts to its new role as baby maker! Congratulations!