Last Updated December 20th, 2021
Pregnancy: What are the early signs?
Pregnancy or gestation occurs when an offspring starts developing inside a woman. The signs and symptoms associated with pregnancy generally differ from woman to woman. However, a missed period is considered to be the first sign to indicate that you are pregnant.
There are several signs and symptoms associated with pregnancy and understanding them is important to actually differentiate the symptoms with pregnancy or from any other cause. There are cases where a woman can experience symptoms within a week of conception and on the other hand, few women do not experience symptoms for a few weeks.
According to a survey, early symptoms of pregnancy include missed period, nausea, as well as changes in the breast. Around 29% of women report missed period to be the first pregnancy symptoms, 25% women reported nausea as their first pregnancy symptoms, whereas 17% women reported changes in their breasts as the first pregnancy symptoms. Around 3% of women have experienced implantation bleeding, which occurs around 10 to 14 days from conception.
Classic signs and symptoms of pregnancy
The following are considered to be the most common signs and symptoms of pregnancy:
A missed period is by far the first indication of pregnancy. If you are expecting to be pregnant, then missing a period should generally indicate that you are pregnant. On the other hand, you may experience a missed period due to other health conditions such as irregular periods, thyroid problems, etc.
Changes in breasts
Since hormones play an important role during gestation, these hormonal changes may cause your breasts to become tender and swollen. These changes in your breasts gradually dissipate as you progress in your pregnancy.
Nausea with or without vomiting
Feeling nauseated during pregnancy is a common symptom that occurs when you are one month into your pregnancy. This is also called morning sickness, which can occur at any time of the day. There is a continuous feeling of nausea and in certain cases, it is also accompanied by vomiting.
Pregnancy is known to increase the amount of blood in your system. This requires the kidney to process more blood and hence you may be experiencing frequent urination during pregnancy.
During early pregnancy, there is a drastic change in hormone levels, particularly progesterone levels. Due to this reason, it is quite common to feel fatigued during pregnancy.
Other signs and symptoms of pregnancy
Apart from the commonly known symptoms, few women tend to experience other less known symptoms and these include:
- Mood swings – Due to abnormal levels of hormones in the system during pregnancy, it is common to experience behavioral changes and mood swings.
- Bloating – Bloating of the stomach is a normal experience during menstruation, which is caused by hormonal changes. Similarly, bloating occurs during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
- Light spotting – A light spotting of blood or implantation bleeding may occur after 10 to 14 days of conception. This is generally rare and occurs only in 3% of pregnant women.
- Cramping – Mild uterine cramping can be experienced during early pregnancy.
- Constipation – Abnormal levels of hormones may cause problems with your digestive system leading to constipation.
- Sensitivity to odor and taste – It is common to become sensitive to certain odor as well as the taste of certain foods. This may cause nausea and you may even throw up. This is generally caused by hormonal changes.
- Nasal congestion – High hormone levels and increased blood production can lead to swelling in the mucous membrane. This can cause a stuffy or runny nose leading to nasal congestion.
Are you really pregnant?
As a matter of fact, the signs and symptoms associated with pregnancy is not only related to pregnancy but may be caused due to other health conditions. Missing a period may be an indication for pregnancy, but it may not necessarily be the cause. You may be experiencing amenorrhea (missed period) due to several other health problems.
This may be due to problems with anatomy or may be caused by hormonal changes. It is important to undergo a pregnancy test to confirm if you are pregnant or not. If your results are negative, then consult a doctor to treat your condition. On the other hand, if you get a positive pregnancy test, you need to consult an OB/GYN to start your prenatal care.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Explained
Since the symptoms of pregnancy may be misleading, it is important to understand what else may cause these symptoms. Some of the symptoms of pregnancy and the reason behind the symptoms are discussed below.
Spotting or light bleeding
If this occurs when you are pregnant, it is generally due to implantation bleeding. After conceiving, the embryo implants itself to the uterine around 6 to 12 days. This may lead to spotting and cramping in few women. Many women do not notice this mild bleeding and hence only a small percentage of women fall under this category. It is not considered abnormal if you do not experience this phenomenon.
This is the first signs when a woman tests for pregnancy. If you are expecting and you miss the period, it is a clear indication that you are pregnant. In certain cases, women tend to bleed even during pregnancy, but this bleeding is not heavy and generally lasts for a shorter period of time as compared to normal periods. A missed or delayed period may be caused by other problems such as rapid weight gain or loss, fatigue, new workout regimen, stress or tension, hormonal imbalance, change of birth control, underlying illness, as well as breastfeeding.
Nausea or morning sickness
This is considered the second most commonly experienced symptom during pregnancy. This symptom generally occurs between two to eight weeks after conception. Nausea can be experienced during any time and generally occurs during the first trimester. The symptoms generally fade out as pregnancy progresses. Few women may experience nausea throughout their pregnancy. Other causes of nausea include food poisoning, anxiety, stress, change of birth control pills, etc.
Swelling and tenderness in breasts
This is considered the third most commonly occurring symptom during pregnancy. Swelling and tenderness can be witnessed after one to two weeks into pregnancy. Some of the other causes of breast changes include hormonal imbalance, change in birth control, as well as impending menstruation.
Tiredness and fatigue
Women may experience tiredness and fatigue within a week after conception. This is caused because of increased hormone levels as well as an increase in the amount of blood. Other reasons which may cause these symptoms to include stress and tension, physical exhaustion, cold or flu, sleep deprived, allergies, malnutrition, as well as pending menstruation.
What is the next step?
Once you have the above signs and symptoms and there is also a confirmation from a pregnancy test that you are positive for pregnancy, the next step would be to start your prenatal care.
You can discuss this with your healthcare provider who will guide you through the course of your pregnancy. Prenatal care begins with a healthy diet. It has been extensively researched that what you eat during your pregnancy could affect the baby’s health in the long run. The next question which arises is why I should eat differently when I am pregnant. This is because several aspects of the baby’s health depend on your diet and some of them are discussed below.
A human anatomy consists of several important organs such as the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, liver, intestines, stomach, as well as the nervous system. These organs need to develop inside the womb. The development of these organs requires nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.
A child’s brain develops in the womb as well as after birth during childhood. Since this is a very complex organ, it requires several important nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and vitamins.
Malnutrition and calories restrictions should be a big no during pregnancy. This is considered the biggest risk factor for low birth weight. On the other hand, consuming empty calories can cause the child to become too big. This again causes problems with childbirth and leading to cesarean section.
This is an important aspect that determines how your child’s mental health would be in the later stages of life. Studies have revealed that an unhealthy diet during pregnancy is known to cause behavior problems such as ADHD.
It is believed that the food consumed during pregnancy can determine the acceptance of food for an infant. The flavor, taste, and smell of the food are experienced by the baby while in the womb from the amniotic fluid. This taste and smell of food generally get accepted easily by the infant after birth whereas it takes time to accept a particular food when introduced later in their life.
It has been found that the embryo and placenta undergo rapid cell differentiation during the first trimester of pregnancy. Providing inadequate nutrients during this period can cause chronic illness in adulthood such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, etc.
Diet Plan during pregnancy
A diet plan during pregnancy would not change much if you are already following a healthy diet. It could vary only the quantity which you eat since you are eating for two, but this is just a marginal increase when the right food is consumed. The following diet plan can be handy during pregnancy.
Eating a balanced diet
A balanced diet is more important than the quantity you eat during pregnancy. A balanced diet consisting of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, as well as healthy fats will provide you the much-needed nutrients and energy for both you and your child. It is highly recommended against following a weight loss or weight gain diet during pregnancy since it can cause a very big impact on the baby’s health.
Maintain your calorie intake
Consuming empty calories during pregnancy should be avoided as it can cause your baby to grow big and lead to problems in adulthood such as obesity and diabetes. According to dieticians, you should be adding an additional 70 calories during the first trimester, additional 260 calories in your second trimester and an additional 300 to 400 calories in the third trimester. These calculations are based on women who are active. If you are not active during your pregnancy, these numbers generally come down. Since exercising can be difficult, you should be walking at least 2 to 3 miles to compensate for lack of exercise.
Eat food from every color
This can be achieved by consuming colorful fruits and vegetables. This will not only provide you important vitamins and minerals but would also keep your plate colorful.
Keep adequately hydrated
This is considered to be the most important aspect of keeping yourself healthy during pregnancy. Pregnancy can cause tiredness and fatigue, so you need an adequate amount of fluids in your system to maintain the electrolytes. Drinking at least 10 to 12 glasses of water per day would be ideal.
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