Symptoms of pregnancy vary from one woman to another and also from one pregnancy to another. One of the most common and important symptom of pregnancy is a delayed or missed period. However, some of the early symptoms of pregnancy are similar to those of menstruation, and hence are often ignored or not noticed. The best way to know whether the symptoms indicate pregnancy is to get a pregnancy check done.
Common, early symptoms of pregnancy
The most obvious symptom of pregnancy is a missed or delayed period, but some woman may experience bleeding during pregnancy that is unrelated to menstruation. A missed period may also be caused by hormonal imbalance, fatigue, and stress.
Some of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy appear when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. These symptoms include include mild spotting and abdominal cramps, which are often mistaken for the beginning of a regular period. Spotting occurs within 6–12 days of fertilization. Bleeding during this time is called 'implantation bleeding.' This mild spotting and cramping can also be caused by menstruation, the use of different birth control pills, infections, and abrasion.
A thick milky discharge from the vagina is also associatied with implantation. This results from the thickening of the vaginal walls following conception. This discharge often continues throughout the pregnancy.
Breast changes are also one of the common early symptoms of pregnancy. Sudden changes in hormonal levels leads to the breasts feeling swollen, sore, or tingly. The areola, the area around the nipple, darkens during pregnancy. During the early days of pregancy, the breasts will feel heavy or tender. Some newly pregnant women experience pain in the breasts; this will go away after a few days. However, these changes may also be caused by hormonal imbalance.
Starting from conception, women often experience fatigue. Within a week of conception, women may feel unusually tired. This feeling is related to the presence of high levels of the hormone progesterone, low levels of blood sugar, or low blood pressure. One should remember that fatigue alone cannot be considered a sure indicator of pregnancy. Fatigue may also be caused by sleeplessness, depression, stress, and common illnesses.
One of most common indicators of pregnancy is morning sickness or nausea. In a pregnant woman, levels of the hormone estrogen affect the rate at which the stomach is emptied, leading to nausea. Although the condition is called ‘morning sickness,' it can happen at any time of the day. This symptom tends to go away by about the 13th week of pregnancy.
Other early symptoms of pregnancy
The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy may cause other symptoms including:
- Frequent urination – By 6-8 weeks of pregnancy, there is an increased tendency to void the bladder, triggered by changes in hormonal levels.
- Constipation – High levels of progesterone in the blood may lead to constipation in some women, as it causes food to move slowly through the gut.
- Mood swings – During the first three months of pregnancy, many women experience mood swings due to hormonal changes.
- Headaches and back pain – Mild headaches and back pain are reported as common symptoms of pregnancy.
- Dizziness – As blood vessels dilate along with a drop in blood pressure, pregnant women may experience dizziness and fainting.
Pregnant women may experience all or only some of the symtpoms described above. In any case, it is always best to get a pregnancy check done for confirmation.