24 Oct Am I pregnant? The early symptoms of pregnancy
Being pregnant, like anything else, is unique to the individual. Every pregnancy is different and every woman could experience early pregnancy symptoms differently. Symptoms could even differ for the same woman but different pregnancies.
There are some common first signs that could indicate that you’re pregnant. While you may not have any or all of these symptoms if you’re pregnant, we explore some common early symptoms of pregnancy to look out for.
A missed period
One of the earliest and most common signs of pregnancy is missing your period. If your periods are normally regular, this is usually the earliest and most reliable sign that you could be pregnant.
If you have missed your period, or it is more than a couple of days late, you can take most pregnancy tests from the first day of your missed period.
If you and your partner are planning a pregnancy, a useful way to keep track of your cycle is to either mark the days on a calendar or by using a period-tracking app. If your menstrual cycle is regular, this will help you determine when you are ovulating and know when you should expect your period.
During the first few weeks of pregnancy, you may also experience a mild bleed similar to a very light period, with some spotting and very little blood loss. The blood loss shouldn’t be enough to soak through your underwear or sanitary pads.
This is known as implantation bleeding and is completely normal. It often happens around the time when you would have had your period.
It occurs when the embryo plants itself in the wall of your womb. You may also experience some cramps in your lower tummy.
While light bleeding is one of the common first signs of pregnancy, if you know you are pregnant and are bleeding, call your GP, midwife or early pregnancy unit. They will be able to check you over just in case.
Some women experience breast tenderness during the early weeks of pregnancy. They may also tingle and feel sore.
Your breasts may also become larger and the veins may be more visible, these are common early pregnancy signs. You may also notice your nipples have gotten darker and may stand out more than previously.
Feeling tired is another common sign of pregnancy. The first few weeks of pregnancy can be both physically and emotionally draining, and it is common to feel tired, or completely exhausted during pregnancy – especially during the first 12 weeks.
Hormonal changes happening in your body during this time can make you feel exhausted and experience other symptoms such as feeling sick, emotional and upset.
Feeling sick or being sick
You may start to feel sick or be sick. While this is known as morning sickness, it can happen any time of the day or night.
Symptoms of morning sickness usually start when you are around 4-6 weeks pregnant. Some women experience mild sickness, where they only feel queasy, whereas others can suffer from severe vomiting, and some have no sickness at all.
If you are sick a lot and unable to keep anything down, speak with your midwife or GP. This could be a sign of a more serious condition called hyperemesis gravidarum that causes severe vomiting and requires treatment.
Needing to wee more often
You could feel the urge to go to the toilet more often than usual, including during the night. This is completely common and happens because your womb is expanding and putting pressure on your bladder.
Needing to wee more often is also due to an increase in the hormone progesterone, which can also cause constipation.
You may notice more vaginal discharge than usual. This is a common symptom of early pregnancy and shouldn’t feel sore, itchy or painful or smell foul.
It is important to speak to your GP or midwife if you experience these symptoms, as it could indicate that you have an infection that could need treatment.
Unusual tastes, smells and cravings
During early pregnancy, you may find that there are certain foods and drinks that you used to like that you no longer enjoy. This is completely normal and is one of the common early pregnancy symptoms. You might also:
- Start to crave new foods
- Experience a strange taste in your mouth, which some describe as a metallic taste
- Lose an appetite for certain foods you once enjoyed
- Have a heightened/more sensitive sense of smell
While you may be craving some unusual foods and drinks during the early stages of your pregnancy, there are some foods that should be avoided completely during your pregnancy to keep you and your baby safe. Find out more about foods to avoid during pregnancy.
If you have any concerns about any unusual cravings or changes to tastes or smells, speak to your midwife or GP.
Mood swings are one of the most common early pregnancy signs, particularly during the first 12 weeks. This is due to natural hormones produced in your body to help manage your pregnancy, prepare your body for birth and produce milk for your baby.
During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, your body is inundated with two hormones, progesterone and oestrogen. These hormones make you feel more emotional than usual and can lead to you feeling happy one minute, and then upset the next.
While this can feel overwhelming, it is important to try not to worry, as these feelings are completely natural.
Read more in: Coping with stress and anxiety during pregnancy.
However, if you are feeling upset or anxious for most of the day and this lasts longer than two weeks, it is important that you speak to your midwife or GP. They will be able to offer you support and advice on steps forward to help improve your emotional wellbeing.
Everyone is different
While these are common early pregnancy signs to look out for, remember every woman experiences pregnancy differently. You may experience some of the above symptoms, some more severely than others or not any at all. If you’re concerned about experiencing, or not experiencing, any pregnancy symptoms, speak to your GP or midwife who will be able to support you.
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