Whether you are trying to get pregnant, or think you may already be pregnant, it can be extremely frustrating waiting to find out one way or the other! Lots of women cannot bear the wait between ovulation and menstruation and want to find out if they are pregnant sooner rather than later.
Fortunately many over-the-counter pregnancy tests can be taken on or after the day that your period was due - and some newer generation tests can even be taken a few days before menstruation. But, if you are really impatient to get results, you may be surprised to know that your body can be an excellent indicator if you monitor yourself carefully!
Many women experience some signs of pregnancy in the week before their period is due. Although these symptoms can mimic pre-menstrual symptoms, sometimes they are a little more severe. So you may feel you have a particularly bad dose of PMT and later realise that you were in fact pregnant!
Some women experience pregnancy symptoms within just a few days of conception; others experience nothing at all until a few weeks into the pregnancy.
Conception usually occurs within 8-10 days of ovulation and at this point your body starts to react to HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), the pregnancy hormone. This is the hormone that pregnancy tests detect in a positive test. And it is the rapidly rising levels of HCG which cause the symptoms of pregnancy.
If you do suspect that you may be pregnant and are suffering from some or all of the symptoms outlined below, see your GP as soon as possible. It is important to receive medical care and to get a booking in appointment at hospital so that you can receive appropriate ante-natal care.
So what are the early signs of pregnancy?
Otherwise known as ?Morning Sickness?, this can occur very early on in pregnancy, even before you realise that you are pregnant. Many women think they may have a touch of food poisoning or are coming down with a cold! Although called morning sickness, it can occur at any time and can come in bouts or last all day and night! Eating little and often can help relieve it and you might find that dry crackers are very effective. The nausea often gets worse when you are hungry so it can be useful to keep some snack food with you at all times. The gag reflex is often easily triggered and simple acts like brushing your teeth can leave you hanging over the toilet bowl!
?Enhanced Sense of Smell and Taste
Lots of women become more sensitive to everyday smells and common foodstuffs, such as tea, coffee and toast, can trigger nausea. Your sense of taste may change dramatically and you may find you can no longer bear to drink or eat foods that you would normally enjoy! You may also notice a metallic taste in your mouth.
This can happen as early as 1 week into the pregnancy. You may find you are running to the toilet a lot more often than normal and maybe even during the night. As the uterus rapidly enlarges after implantation, it presses on your bladder making you feel like you need to urinate. Often you will rush to the toilet only to pass a tiny trickle of urine!
Urine may also darken and have a stronger smell than normal so you should try to drink plenty of water. If you are concerned or experiencing pain speak to your GP in case you have a urinary tract infection.
It is very common for women to report that their breasts enlarge and become extremely tender very early on in pregnancy. Nipples also become very sensitive and enlarged and will darken in colour. Breast veins also become more noticeable ? all in preparation for breastfeeding! Little bumps, Montgomery?s tubercles, also appear on the areola (the area surrounding the nipple) that will help to lubricate the breast during breastfeeding.
You may feel absolutely exhausted very early on in pregnancy and throughout the first trimester. This is a result of rapidly rising HCG levels, very high progesterone levels and a higher than normal body temperature. Combine all that with frequent toilet trips and nausea and trying to hold down a job and it is no wonder pregnant women feel exhausted!
?Missed Period/ Cramping/ Backache/ Headaches
For most women this can be the first indication that they are pregnant but for the first few weeks of pregnancy you may experience cramping and have a feeling your period will arrive at any moment. Often the cramping is accompanied by back pain.
Obviously, any cramping and bleeding, even if it is light, should be reported to your doctor. Pregnant women also often experience more headaches than normal and again this can be a result of massive hormonal changes.
?Light Bleeding/ Spotting
About 8-10 days after ovulation some women experience some light bleeding which coincides with the time a period was due. Sometimes this can be mistaken for a light period. This bleeding is often implantation bleeding which is a result of the egg implanting in the uterus.
Because pregnancy affects the sense of taste and smell lots of pregnant women unintentionally avoid food and skip meals. This causes low blood sugar levels which can lead to dizzy spells and fainting.
If you are standing for a long period of time the increased pressure of the uterus pressing on major arteries in your legs can lead to a fall in blood pressure which can also make you feel dizzy or faint.
In order to absorb all the nutrients that your developing baby requires, pregnancy hormones slow down your metabolism and this can lead to constipation. Try eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and drinking lots of water to help avoid constipation.
With lots of pregnancy hormones raging through your body, as well as coping with sickness and tiredness, is it any wonder pregnant women get easily irritated during early pregnancy? If you find yourself getting stressed and losing your temper try to take some gentle exercise, more rest and eat a healthy, balanced diet - if you can face it!
Although heartburn and indigestion are usually associated with the later stages of pregnancy, they can also occur early on for some women. HCG slows down digestion meaning that your stomach remains full for longer. Stomach acid can then make its way into your oesophagus and even to the back of your throat causing discomfort and even nausea. It can often be relieved with medication, so ask your doctor for some antacids suitable during pregnancy. Avoid eating heavy or spicy meals late in the evening as these can aggravate the problem!
?Changes in Complexion
You might notice your skin breaks out in spots as a result of all the pregnancy hormones coursing through your body but this often settles down by the second trimester! Any moles or liver spots may also darken due to increased skin pigmentation.
?Increased Cervical Mucous
Many pregnant women notice that they pass more cervical mucous than normal and that it is thick and white. This is normal in pregnancy. But if you notice an unusual smell or itching alongside it, consult your GP as Thrush is also a common pregnancy complaint!
Perhaps surprisingly you may lose weight during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, considering that most women try to eat more healthily, cut out alcohol and eat less due to a decreased appetite, it is completely normal! Couple that with a bigger bosom than usual and you may be complimented on how wonderful you are looking ? often by unsuspecting individuals who are unaware of your pregnancy. Make the most of it while you can!
Enjoy your precious nine months!
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