Early Signs of Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, it’s never too early (or too late) to start making important lifestyle changes, such as cutting out caffeine, nicotine, sushi, and alcohol. Prenatal vitamins should be initiated as soon as you realize you’re pregnant, as folic acid/ DHA and other nutrients are needed during the early organogenesis phase of pregnancy. You may also be taking medications to treat other conditions that will need to be stopped or adjusted if you are pregnant.
So what are the early signs of pregnancy that you should be on the lookout for?
1. Absent or significant change to your menstrual period
Most women do not have a menses in the month following conception, however many women do have some light bleeding at the time of their typical period. Consider using a over the counter pregnancy test if your period is abnormal and you are sexually active. Modern urine pregnancy tests are typically very accurate if used correctly, and can confirm pregnancy as early as two weeks after conception.
Extreme, unexplainable fatigue is probably the second most common sign of early pregnancy. Don’t treat fatigue with excessive caffeine if there is a chance you may be pregnant. Instead, listen to your body, take it easy, and try to keep well-rested.
3. Food aversions.
The thought of chicken makes you wince, and you can’t even walk past the local Chinese restaurant without gagging. Sound familiar? If it does, you could be pregnant. Many women report that such intense food aversions are one of the first signs of early pregnancy. These can be caused by rising levels of beta-hCG hormone. There isn’t all that much to do except steer clear of triggers.
4. Sensitivity to smells.
Scents that were never pleasant (like cigarette smoke) and even ones that were agreeable (like your partner’s cologne) can also make you gag during the beginning of pregnancy. For some women, this can be a tip-off that they are expecting. This is likely a result of rising hormone levels. Unfortunately, there is really nothing you can do except avoid them where you can, especially cigarette smoke inhalation, which is not good for you or the baby.
5. Nausea and vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting can be signs that you are with child. One of the things that help expectant moms get through first trimester is the reassurance that the nausea and vomiting will likely pass by 14 weeks. It also helps to know that morning sickness can be a sign of a good thing because rising levels of the beta-HCG hormone, which may cause morning sickness, indicate a growing pregnancy. Beat back morning sickness(or all-day sickness, as the case can be) by eating offensively as opposed to defensively. The key is not to let your stomach get too empty or too full. Keep crackers by your bedside and have them before you get out of bed in the morning. Considering “grazing”, eating small amounts multiple times through the day. Prenatal vitamins can also trigger nausea for some expectant moms, so its sometimes helpful to take them at bedtime. Don’t take your vitamins on an empty stomach.
6. Breast swelling and tenderness.
Other early signs of pregnancy may include breast changes. Consider obtaining more comfortable bras without the underwire support. Sports type compression bras usually work well.
7. Frequent urination.
In early pregnancy, the uterus grows and pushes on the bladder, triggering the urge to urinate more often. This sensation usually goes away by the second trimester, but not for long. In your third trimester, it recurs again because of your enlarged uterus and the pressure of the fetus’s head on your bladder. There is no way to avoid this, but going to the bathroom right before bed may allow you to get a little more sleep. You will probably still have to get up at least once in the night to use the bathroom.
8. Shortness of breath.
Some women feel short of breath when they first become pregnant. This is because you need extra oxygen due to the growing fetus. The further along you are, the worse this gets due to the enlarging uterus and decreased lung expansion. Tell your doctor if there is a sudden onset of shortness of breath that is not associated with exercise, you also have pain, or it is worse when you are lying down, as these can be signs of something more serious.
9. Physical changes.
If you think that you may be pregnant because you have been sexually active without contraception, make an appointment with your doctor because there are changes in the color of the vagina and the softness of the cervix that a good clinician can pick up on during a pelvic exam. Although all of these may be among the first signs of pregnancy, they are by no means definitive. While these are signs of pregnancy, remember they can be symptoms of other natural, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The most reliable early sign of pregnancy is your first missed period if you have regular periods. Most importantly, if you believe you might be pregnant, take an at-home test or make an appointment with our doctors as soon as possible.