While ultrasounds and pregnancy tests are the only way to know for sure if you’re pregnant, there are other signs that you might have a baby on the way. In this post, we’ll cover the signs and symptoms you should look out for in the nascent stages of pregnancy.
What Should You Expect if You’re Expecting?
Something to bear in mind when reading pregnancy timelines: the week of your last menstrual period is the first week of your pregnancy- even if you weren’t pregnant at the time. This is the commencement date used when calculating your delivery date. And this is why in the first few weeks of your 40-week-long pregnancy you might experience no symptoms at all.
From weeks one to four, the fertilised egg creates a blastocyst (a fluid-filled group of cells) from which will grow the baby’s organs and body parts.
- In week four (about 10 to 14 days after conception), the blastocyst implants in the lining of the uterus. This can cause implantation bleeding, which should not be mistaken for a light period.
Here’s what to look out for at this stage:
- Color: The color of each episode may be pink, red, or brown.
- Bleeding: Bleeding is usually compared to your regular menstrual period. Spotting is defined by blood present only when wiping.
- Pain: Pain may be mild, moderate, or severe. According to a study of 4,539 women, 28 percent of women associated their spotting and light bleeding with pain.
- Episodes: Implantation bleeding is likely to last less than three days and doesn’t require treatment.
Once the implantation stage is complete, your body will produce human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which maintains pregnancy and signals to the ovaries to stop releasing eggs.
- You will likely miss your following period four weeks after conception. If you have an irregular period, it’s best to take a pregnancy test to confirm that this is symptomatic of pregnancy and not something else. Most home tests can detect hCG as soon as eight days after a missed period and confirm if you are pregnant or not.
- A higher basal body temperature may also be a sign of pregnancy. Your body’s core temperature may also increase more easily during exercise or in hot weather. During this time, you’ll need to make sure to drink more water and exercise cautiously.
- Fatigue can develop at any time during pregnancy, but will be most appreciable in these early stages. This results from soaring progesterone levels, which can make you feel sleepy. The antidote to this is intuitive and straightforward: ensure you’re getting adequate rest.
- Circa week eight, your heart may start pumping faster and harder. Heart palpitations and arrhythmias are relatively common during pregnancy, typically due to hormonal changes. If you have an underlying heart problem, your doctor can help supervise low dosages of drugs.
- Breast changes typically occur between weeks four and six. Your breasts will temporarily become swollen and tender due to temporal changes in hormones. You can relieve breast tenderness by purchasing a comfortable, supportive maternity bra- most people favour the cotton, underwire-free varieties. Another option is to purchase breast pads that fit into your bra, reducing friction and nipple pain.
- Nausea and morning sickness usually develops around weeks four to six. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur any time during the day. It’s unclear exactly what causes nausea and morning sickness, but hormones are thought to be the main culprit. During the first trimester of pregnancy, many women experience mild to severe morning sickness. It may become more intense toward the end of the first trimester but often wanes as you enter the second. It’s a good idea to keep some saltine crackers around to settle your stomach if symptoms arise.
- Many women report heightened emotions during pregnancy- they find themselves swinging between moods of euphoria and irritability with a greater amplitude than ever before. This is not unusual during pregnancy, as high estrogen and progesterone can make you more emotional and reactive than usual.
- Hormones also play an important role in bladder health, and an increase in certain ones can make you need to visit the bathroom more frequently. To avoid inconveniences caused by this, you can plan your bathroom visits in advance.
- Weight gain generally increases toward the end of your first trimester. The calorie requirements for early pregnancy won’t change much from your usual diet, but will rise steadily as pregnancy progresses.
In the later stages, pregnancy weight often spreads out between the:
- breasts (about 1 to 3 pounds)
- uterus (about 2 pounds)
- placenta (1 1/2 pounds)
- amniotic fluid (about 2 pounds)
- increased blood and fluid volume (about 5 to 7 pounds)
- fat (6 to 8 pounds)
- Hormones can cause the valve between your stomach and esophagus to relax. This allows stomach acid to leak, causing heartburn. You can alleviate this by eating several small meals a day instead of larger ones and trying to stay sitting upright for at least an hour to allow your food more time to digest.
Many of the body changes and symptoms of pregnancy you experience in the first trimester will start to fade once you reach the second trimester. Talk with your doctor about any symptoms that interfere with your daily life. Together, you can find relief and comfort for your pregnancy.