What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Pregnancy?
Is it a fact that all pregnant women get morning sickness and miss their period? Are there other symptoms and signs of pregnancy that may be less commonly known?
The answer is yes, and in this article I will tell you about different pregnancy symptoms you may experience and when these symptoms generally appear. I will also try to answer other important questions that may be helpful when you’re trying to find out whether or not you are pregnant.
However, it’s important to bear this in mind at all times:
- You may be pregnant and not experience any symptoms.
- You may have one or more of these symptoms without being pregnant.
- You may have one, more or all symptoms and be pregnant.
What Pregnancy Symptoms Might You Get?
It is not a given that you will experience any of the classic symptoms associated with pregnancy. You may get some of them or all of them. You may even be one of the fortunate women who get just a few symptoms.
If you have a symptom-free pregnancy, you may be the envy of many, especially those women whose symptoms are so severe that they last all day, preventing them from carrying out their daily activities such as their jobs and household chores.
It is just as normal to experience no troublesome symptoms as it is to suffer from severe symptoms. The absence or presence of any or all pregnancy signs has no bearing on how your pregnancy will progress.
Most Common Pregnancy Symptoms
Changes in breasts and/or nipples
Many women feel that their breasts and nipples become very tender and sensitive, and some notice that their breasts grow larger in size. The area around the nipple, known as the areola mammae, may appear larger or change to a darker shade.
Missed Menstruation Period
The absence of a menstrual period is one of the best-known symptoms of pregnancy. However, some women experience a little vaginal bleeding or spotting. This is implantation bleeding, which occurs when the fertilised egg embeds itself into the lining of the uterus.
Changes in Senses of Smell and Taste
If you find yourself suddenly noticing smells which previously didn’t register, you might be experiencing a pregnancy symptom.
Some believe that this is an ability we developed in primitive times when we were more dependent on our sense of smell to tell us whether a substance was safe to eat.
Creating a new person is demanding on a woman’s body. Her heart must grow bigger in order to pump more blood round her body. Hormones kick into high gear in order to regulate which new hormones must be produced, and which ones reduced during pregnancy. This alone illustrates why pregnant women often feel very tired. This fatigue may be so overwhelming that a woman falls asleep at her work desk or while on the toilet.
This fatigue is understandable but if you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, it may be a good idea to go to bed earlier in the evening in order to get more rest.
Nausea With or Without Vomiting
You may experience “morning sickness” in the morning or at any time of the day or night. Feeling nauseated is common when pregnant, but the symptom may have several other causes.
Some women feel so ill and vomit so often that they must be admitted to hospital in order to ensure they receive enough hydration and nutrition. On the other hand, some women do not experience morning sickness at all.
Changed Eating Habits
Sometimes, a woman may suddenly hanker after a food that’s completely outside her regular eating habits. This, too, is a common pregnancy symptom. Equally, some women find that foods they regularly eat and enjoy trigger nausea.
Bloating is a pregnancy sign that’s often misunderstood. If your stomach swells up early in pregnancy, it’s not the baby causing it, but the pregnancy hormones are to blame.
Menstruation-like Cramps in the Abdomen
Before pregnancy, the uterus is the size of a small pear, but over the course of the pregnancy it will grow to the size of a watermelon. The ligaments which connect the uterus to the body begin to stretch early in pregnancy. This may cause pain which feels like menstrual cramps.
Increased Need to Urinate
Early pregnancy hormones may make you feel an urge to urinate more often than usual. However, this increased urge may also be caused by a more unfortunate cause: a bladder infection causes the same symptoms.
Hormones are to blame if you suddenly find yourself feeling more touchy or weepy. You may find yourself going from happy to furious in a matter of seconds.
Your body is working hard to adjust to the transformation caused by pregnancy. Be aware that feelings of sadness may be the early signs of depression. Pregnant women have a higher likelihood of developing depression.
Hormones make your digestive system slow down, and this may lead to constipation. Take extra care if you notice this. The best approach is to deal with constipation before it gets so bad that defecation becomes painful.
It’s easy to fall into a vicious circle, and many pregnant women may need to take anti-constipation medication throughout their pregnancy, since dietary changes are not always effective in solving this problem.
When Do the Early Pregnancy Signs Appear?
It can be hard to gauge whether you’re experiencing symptoms because you are pregnant or simply because you think you are pregnant. Our bodies may send signals that resemble pregnancy symptoms even when we are not pregnant at all.
If you are pregnant, you may experience symptoms just a few days after ovulation, or it may be several weeks into your pregnancy before you notice anything. The difference between when you begin to suspect a pregnancy depends on what stage you are in your life.
If you have stopped taking contraception and are actively trying to conceive, you are likely to pay attention to small signs that might indicate that you are pregnant. Our brains are made in such a way that when we focus our thoughts on something, we start to notice it more.
For example, if you’ve decided to buy a new red car, you will suddenly start to notice all the red cars that pass you, when you would previously have been oblivious to them. When you’re trying to conceive, it’s guaranteed that prams and pregnant tummies will suddenly be firmly on your radar.
Pregnancy Signs in Weeks One, Two and Three
We begin dating pregnancy from the date of a woman’s last period. This means that she is not actually pregnant until week two, when she has ovulated and the egg has been fertilised. Therefore, it is only after week two that a woman’s body can produce pregnancy symptoms.
It may be confusing to learn that medical professionals count the menstrual and pre-ovulation period as part of the actual pregnancy, but there is a good reason why they do this.
Most women are aware of their menstrual periods, but very few women know when they ovulate. Counting the pregnancy from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period allows medical professionals to fix due date as accurately as possible. Later in the pregnancy, an ultrasound scan will help to determine whether the due date is accurate or not.
Pregnancy symptoms in the third week are exactly the same as those you may experience further along in your your pregnancy. However, in weeks one and two you may have symptoms that may be due to things completely unrelated to pregnancy.
However, some women experience symptoms during ovulation which are sometimes confused with pregnancy symptoms.
Does a Missed Period Always Mean You’re Pregnant?
In the past, when our mothers and grandmothers were young, women did not have the opportunities we have today.
Earlier generations did not have pregnancy tests available, and women, therefore, had to pay close attention to their body’s symptoms and the minute changes that occurred during pregnancy.
A woman’s body produces more of the hormone progesterone after ovulation, and when the level of this hormone is high, it tells the body that a pregnancy may happen soon. Pregnancy occurs only within 12-24 hours after ovulation.
As long as the level of progesterone is high, the body will not expel the uterine lining. Therefore, many women will not have menstrual periods while they are pregnant.
Progesterone, sometimes called the pregnancy-preserving hormone, remains at a high level throughout the pregnancy to ensure that the uterine mucous membrane and the future baby are not expelled by the uterus.
If the level of progesterone falls, the pregnancy will be interrupted, and the woman will have bleeding that may resemble a menstrual period. The further along she is in her pregnancy, the stronger the bleeding.
However, about 25% of all pregnant women experience bleeding at one point or another, especially during the first three months. This makes it difficult to know whether the bleeding is menstruation or an early miscarriage.
The opposite is also true: a woman may miss a period even if she is not pregnant. Some reasons this may happen include:
- The woman has not recorded her last menstrual period, and therefore she does not know when the next menstrual period can be expected.
- The woman has irregular periods and it is, therefore, difficult to know when the period should come and, therefore, know when it’s actually missing.
- The woman ovulated later than she thought.
- The woman has gained or lost a significant amount of weight, by several kilogrammes.
- The woman has participated in a more strenuous or intensive exercise or sport than usual.
- The woman has taken medication that has affected her hormone balance, and thus her cycles and periods.
A woman’s body is so beautifully created by nature that, when faced with extraordinary stress, it will shut down non-vital functions. When a woman finds herself pushed to her physical limits, such when she is malnourished, ill, or severely underweight, or if she puts her body through great stress because of high-level sports, her body will notice that something is wrong and put the menstrual cycle on hold.
In short, missing a period is not necessarily a sign that you are pregnant. Nowadays, women have the means of finding out whether they are pregnant or not, since a midwife will carry out a test. Alternatively, the woman may choose to buy her own test from the nearest available shop.
Pregnancy tests are so widely available today in so many places that no woman needs to live with uncertainty over whether she is pregnant or not.
Can Vaginal Secretions Show Whether a Woman is Pregnant?
A woman’s body changes throughout her life, both before, during, and after the long period of her life when she can get pregnant and become a mother.
A healthy balance between the brain, glands, hormones and chemical signals ensures that a woman’s body is performing optimally during all phases of her life, and this is related to her vaginal secretions.
These secretions during a woman’s fertile time of life can make it easier or harder for sperm to swim up to the fallopian tube, where the egg is to be fertilised. Immediately after the menstrual period, as a woman’s eggs mature in her ovaries, the vaginal secretions usually form a barrier to sperm, since the woman’s body knows she is not ready to conceive, because no eggs are mature enough to be fertilised.
As ovulation approaches, the woman’s secretions become thinner and resemble raw egg white. The secretion is now fertile and helps the sperm to reach their goal. After ovulation, a women’s secretions will again change in consistency, regardless of whether or not she is pregnant.
Therefore, secretions alone cannot show whether pregnancy has occurred. Early in pregnancy, only a pregnancy test can answer that question.
Symptoms Because a Woman Wants to be, Or is Afraid of Being, Pregnant
If a woman either wishes to become pregnant or is dreading getting pregnant, her subconscious will often be acutely aware of changes in her body during her menstrual cycle. These women are predisposed to notice the tiniest changes with their bodies, such as whether their breasts happen to be more tender, their vaginal secretions appear different or there are signs of unusual bleeding, if they feel more tired than normal, experience a touch of unwellness, or have changes in appetite.
If you dread or desire a pregnancy, you may be prone to over analyse even very small and completely normal changes your body. This is both normal and natural.
Consider the day you met your significant other, and try to remember how things were before you actually became a couple. You may have analysed every tiny signal to try and figure out whether or not you were meant for each other, whether you wanted to meet each other again, whether they would call or text you or not, and whether you would have a future together.
You may not have done it consciously, but unconsciously, your entire body was highly analytical because it meant so much for you whether you were going to be a couple or not.
In the same way, your body will react when you are anxious about the results of a pregnancy test. The brain simply cannot let it go.
Symptoms or No Symptoms, Take a Test and Find Out
I am very pleased that women these days can take a test to find out whether they are pregnant or not, and that we have opportunities that our forefathers (or should we call them “foremothers?”) did not have.
If you experience pregnancy symptoms and wonder whether you are pregnant, speculating about it may fill so much of your daily life that it may be difficult to focus on other things. Some women have the ability to think of other things even while unsure of their pregnancy status, and you’re lucky if you’re one of them.
If, however, you belong to the other group of women whose thoughts will be consumed day and night with speculation over whether or not they are pregnant, it’s time to take a pregnancy test. You do not need to buy the most expensive kind, and it will allow you to test when you need it.
Personally, taking a pregnancy test gives me peace of mind, whether the result is positive or negative. Of course, it’s natural to be a little sad if you get a negative test result when you’re hoping to get pregnant. However, I can promise you that it’s an extremely liberating feeling to get a negative test result when you do not want to get pregnant.
A pregnancy test does not cost much and can be purchased almost everywhere you would normally be going, whether you do your shopping in physical stores or online. You can choose to buy the cheapest kind of pregnancy tests that are designed as a strip, or get a stick test if you want a more hygienic option.
If you do not need to test regularly, you may consider choosing Clearblue’s Digital Pregnancy Test. This test removes any doubts about whether you can discern a test line or not. A Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test will show the results in clear text: “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant”.
Final Thoughts on Pregnancy Symptoms
Use your common sense. If you get a negative pregnancy test, it doesn’t always mean you’re not pregnant. Should your symptoms continue, take another test after two to three weeks, and repeat until you’re sure whether or not you’re pregnant.
Also, remember to talk to your midwife or doctor and get recommendations about what to do if you still feel pregnant, but the pregnancy test continues to come up negative.
Many symptoms that may seem to be pregnancy signs may have other sources. It is important that you always bear this in mind so that you take other possibilities into account and don’t exclusively focus on a possible pregnancy.