Early Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms

By: Julie Fletcher

Are you experiencing any of these signs of early pregnancy?

Sometimes before missing a period, a woman may feel as if she 'knows' she is pregnant. Early pregnancy can give many signs and symptoms. The first signs of pregnancy can differ from woman to woman and even for each subsequent pregnancy. One of the very first signs of pregnancy is an need to sleep often and longer than previously. Increased hunger can start before the woman has even performed an early pregnancy detection test!

Pregnancy symptoms and early pregnancy signs

These are often brushed aside by women as a severe cold, exhaustion from stress, or the flu instead of the first signs of pregnancy. This can prolong the woman going to a doctor for proper care in early pregnancy. Knowing the signs and symptoms of early pregnancy are crucial in helping the pregnant woman get to the obstetrician for essential care from the very first signs of pregnancy. During this time folic acid intake should be increased as a deficiency in this nutrient has been linked to birth defects.

Breast tenderness often occurs in early pregnancy and is often the very first sign of early pregnancy.

The breasts are beginning to grow in size to accommodate milk production and nursing. Usually within a week of conception, the areolas will darken and striations may begin to show on the breasts. Occasionally breast tenderness will continue after the stage of early pregnancy, but in most cases is it only one of the many signs and symptoms of early pregnancy.

A common first sign of early pregnancy is missing a period, though this is not always a reliable indication of pregnancy.

In women who have irregular periods, especially when nearing menopause, a missed period cannot be relied on. But when a combination of the other signs and symptoms of early pregnancy are present, a missed period will only strengthen the case of pregnancy. Many times, a woman may not think she has missed her period because in early pregnancy there can be spotting at the time of the next normal period after conception. This is due to the implantation of the fertilized egg into the lining of the uterus. This spotting can resemble a light period and last from one to three days.

Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy

Nausea and vomitting are certainly the most unpleasant of the early pregnancy signs and symptoms. Known to most women as morning sickness because of the prevalence of nausea in the morning hours, morning sickness affects up to ninety percent of all pregnant women. Its' roots are tied to hormonal changes in a woman's body during early pregnancy. To help lessen the nausea it is recommended to avoid stress, limit time in front of a computer because the flickering of the screen can increase nausea, and eating small meals through the day instead of three large meals. Morning sickness dismays some mothers to be due to fear of harming the growing baby but morning sickness does not harm the fetus.

Lethargy, fatigue and tiredness

Overwhelming tiredness is a sign of early pregnancy for many women and it is normal for a woman to find she is still tired or sleepy even after twelve hours of solid sleep. It is also very common for women who are in the first stages of pregnancy to feel very weak or exhausted after physical labor. Tiredness is very common in early pregnancy as the body is channeling its' energy into preparing for the baby that will be growing inside and needing much nourishment. Frequent breaks to rest and naps are helpful in reducing the feeling of being lethargic. This symptom of early pregnancy will more than likely disappear by the second trimester and be replaced by more energy and a 'glow' about the pregnant woman,

Darkening or change of color around the nipple

This happens very quickly after conception and occurs along with darkening of other parts of the body. The linea nigra, or the 'belly line' will begin to show lightly and the inside of the lips of the vulva will also darken. Nipples may become much more sensitive. This can be enjoyable to some women or painful to others. All of this is due to the rush of blood to these areas and the building of more blood vessels and capillaries.

Frequent visits to the bathroom in early pregnancy

Urinary frequency is a sign of pregnancy for some women as the uterus begins to grow and press on the bladder. In early pregnancy the uterus is still very low in the pelvis and sits directly on top of the bladder, the increased size and weight of the womb causes a feeling of fullness and urgency. Though this is one of the signs and symptoms of early pregnancy, it can also be causes by an urinary tract infection and if a woman has pain during the passing of urine, she should be tested for an infection.

Constipation in pregnancy

Constipation or bowel disturbance occurs frequently in the first stages pregnancy.  The digestive systems slows down so the body can extract as much nourishment from food as possible during pregnancy. In early pregnancy drinking more water to stay hydrated improves the passing of bowel movements. Some women may find it will ease their symptoms of constipation by using a low foot stool to place their feet on in front of the toilet. Next to morning sickness, constipation is probably the most dreaded of the signs and symptoms of pregnancy.

Home pregnancy tests

Urine test kits are available in grocery stores, drug stores, and many other outlets. With the recent leaps in pregnancy detection, home pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy before a woman even has missed a period. A woman may not even have experienced the first signs of pregnancy, but be able to detect it with one of the highly improved home pregnancy tests. These tests are so effective that even the low priced kits can give a very good result. Doctors and other experts still recommend that women not rely totally on a home pregnancy test for a full confirmation of early pregnancy.

Visit your local doctor

Confirming at the doctors' office is the only completely reliable way to be sure of a pregnancy. The first signs of pregnancy may not actually indicate a pregnancy and home pregnancy tests can fail, giving a false positive. There are other situations when the body can give signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Early pregnancy can be confirmed at the doctor's office through blood tests.  Your doctor will measure your beta HCG level in your blood.  An elevated level of this hormone confirms conception has occured.  The beta HCG concentration in the blood will increase in a predictable pattern during the pregnancy.  A repeat test may be taken later in pregnancy to reassure the physician of the health of the unborn child.

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