Early signs of pregnancy

A missed period is one of the first signs of pregnancy. But, periods are known to be treacherous beings and can get delayed without warning. The first signs of pregnancy start appearing around the 6th week and it is around this time that a home pregnancy kit will be able to show you the little plus sign if you are pregnant.

The onset of the early signs of pregnancy and their intensity varies from individual to individual, but below are the most common signs of pregnancy (not all women experience them):

Food Aversions

It is not uncommon for you to be repelled by food during early stages of pregnancy. It may start as early as the 2nd week after conception. Some of your favourite foods may seem repulsive during this period. Though, the exact cause for this is not known, it is believed that the increased levels of estrogen may have a role to play.

What to do?
Most women find lemon and ginger soothing. If the aversions become too severe you must consider seeing your OB.

Abdominal Bloating

This is attributed to Progesterone which is known to slow down the digestive system sometimes resulting in indigestion or constipation. You might feel a little puffed up at the waist and unable to fit in your favourite skinny jeans. This accompanied with backache and cramps, may feel similar to PMS.

What to do?
Nothing unless the pain becomes too severe or the symptoms involve bleeding.

Mood Swings

Finding yourself getting angry over seemingly insignificant things or crying after that not-so-emotional scene is a TV soap? Don’t worry mood swings are common during the initial phases of pregnancy. They occur because your body is trying to adjust to cocktail of hormones developing in the body. Everyone responds differently to the changing hormones and can feel heightened emotions both good and bad.

What to do?
Make sure you are aware of the mood swings and the ones around you are also made aware, especially your husband / partner as it will allow them to be supportive during the phase. However, if you feel depressed for a long period of time or have thought of harming yourself, you should see a doctor.

Frequent Urination

You might think frequent urination starts later when your expanding uterus starts pressing against your bladder but it starts as early as the 6th week of the first trimester. It is caused because of the increased blood flow to your kidneys, which causes them to create more urine. This will keep intensifying as the pregnancy progresses. The volume of blood in your system increases dramatically during pregnancy causing the kidneys to process more blood. It is compounded by the uterus pressing against the bladder making you run to the bathroom very frequently.

What to do?
Drink lots of fluids. Yes, it might seem to make the situation worse, but a high intake of fluids is necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Visit your doctor if there is any burning or itching during urination or any other signs of infection.

Fatigue

Feeling exhausted lately? Fell asleep while watching your favourite TV show? No one knows why it happens, but it’s a common symptom during the first trimester. Progesterone, which tends to slow down your digestive system and increase the basal temperature is the most probable suspect. Getting up multiple times during the night to urinate and the morning sickness also contribute to the sluggishness.

What to do?
Take your prenatal vitamins, eat a healthy balanced diet, drink lots of fluids, be active and make sure you take ample rest. It should resolve itself as you go into the second trimester.

Headache

Some women experience increased headaches during this period. This could be because of the increased levels of hormones, decreased fluid intake or could also be triggered by anemia.

What to do?
While most headaches are innocuous and mild, in case you have to take any medicines, make sure you consult your doctor before popping any pills.

Nausea

For some women the morning sickness starts during the second month of the pregnancy while for others it could start as early as the second of pregnancy. One of the probable reasons for this is that your stomach does not clear as easily due to the slowed down digestive system and has to purge itself by vomiting. The other possible cause of Nausea is Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone that is present in your blood and urine even before you have missed a period. Another theory suggests that both nausea and food aversions are the body’s safety mechanisms to keep you away from foods that can harm the growth of the fetus.

What to do?
Some doctors may recommend vitamin B6 supplements to keep the nausea away. If you are vomiting too frequently and can’t hold down any liquids then see your doctor immediately.

High basal body temperature

The simple thumb rule suggests: if you have been tracking your basal body temperature for a while and you find it to be elevated for over a period of two weeks, you are probably pregnant.

What to do?
Get the home pregnancy kit out and give it a shot, chances are it will give a positive result.

Light bleeding or spotting

The sperm fertilises with the egg forming an embryo which then implants itself into the lining of the uterus about 6-12 days after conception. This may cause mild bleeding or spotting for some women. This is generally harmless, but if you have been trying to get pregnant or suspect that you are pregnant, you must see your doctor. Heavy bleeding in the first trimester can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or certain types of infections.

What to do?
Many women confuse the spotting with a period as it occurs nearly the same time. However, as a precaution, any unexpected or untimely bleeding must be reported to your OB.

Sore breasts

One of the most common signs of pregnancy are swollen and sore breasts due to the increased levels of hormones. The increased estrogen and progesterone make the glands in the breasts to start growing. This causes the breasts to retain more fluids and become more tender than what you would feel during PMS.

What to do?
Buy comfortable brassieres. They will come in handy during the whole term of pregnancy and afterwards.