There are many obvious and subtle signs of pregnancy although many signs don't usually go away once they appear around 8 weeks from conception. Some women seem to know when they are pregnant and just feel it, while others have lots of signs and symptoms and some women have no symptoms of pregnancy. Most of the signs and symptoms of pregnancy are the result of estrogen, progesterone, and HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin).
What Are the Common Early Signs of Pregnancy?
These are some of the signs that you might experience early in your pregnancy, between 6 and 8 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period, according to the MayoClinic.com.
- Fatigue is a sense of being exhausted and very tired that sometimes last all day long. Some feel this is your body's way of protecting your growing baby from harm.
- Some women experience breast tenderness that doesn't go away. This isn't cyclic like your monthly breast tenderness, but is a soreness and tenderness to touch. Some women notice early on that their breasts get larger.
- The pressure of a growing uterus on your bladder can cause you to feel like you need to urinate frequently. This is also a sign of a bladder infection, so look for other signs of infection such as burning when you urinate.
- Heartburn is pain after eating certain foods.
- Some women notice very early either depression or crying easily and dramatic mood swings. Because they feel exhausted or nauseous, and this is out of their control, they might wonder why they ever wanted to be pregnant in the first place.
- Food might lose its appeal, or a woman might just not feel like eating and experience a queasy or nauseous feeling all day long, or perhaps just in the morning. Sometimes eating small frequent meals and eating just crackers in the morning helps women get through this period. These signs usually last 12-16 weeks into the pregnancy.
- Sometimes nausea leads to vomiting, especially around smells and odors that are especially strong.
- Some women notice more headaches, which seem to be related to either high estrogen levels, or perhaps a reaction to certain foods or not eating certain foods. An example would be caffeine. If you stop consuming caffeine suddenly, sometimes a headache can be a reaction.
- Dizziness can occur as a very early sign of pregnancy. This is characterized by either feeling lightheaded or dizzy upon getting up.
- Some women just feel or just know they are pregnant. There is a subtle feeling that is different, but hard to explain. It is most likely a hormonal difference from when you aren't pregnant. As the pregnancy develops, some women have a 'healthy glow' that makes them look radiant. This is most likely due to estrogen, one of the pregnancy hormones.
What Are Additional Observable Signs of Pregnancy ?
According to WebMD.com, you may notice additional signs of pregnancy as your condition progresses.
- Some women notice skin changes such as the linea nigra appearing once the hormones of pregnancy are produced. Linea nigra is a brownish streak that runs from the pubic hair up towards the breastline. If you experience linea negra in early pregnancy, it is due to an increased secretion of melanin, a skin pigment, and can last well into the period of time after the birth of the baby.
- In addition to breast tenderness, some women notice small goosebump-like raised areas on the areola of your breast. These are called Montgomery's Tubercles. During pregnancy, these glands enlarge and they remain enlarged while breast-feeding.
- When a pelvic exam is done, the OB provider might see some skin colors and changes in the vagina. Known as Chadwick's Sign, this is due to the increase in blood flow to the uterus and cervix.
- Excessive salivation (Ptyalism) causes increase secretions coming from the mouth.
- Colostrum is a clear sticky liquid that naturally comes from the nipples of the breasts.
- Fetal movement or quickening is usually felt around 20 weeks, which is halfway through the pregnancy. Some women feel it around 16 weeks sooner and some women do not feel it until later -- around 21 weeks. It is an interesting feeling, sort of like butterfly wings inside of the uterus.
What Signs Confirm a Pregnancy?
You may experience some of the potential signs of pregnancy like dizziness or missing a period without actually being pregnant. Therefore, there are a few ways to confirm the presence of a pregnancy.
- A positive pregnancy test usually means a pregnancy since it detects the HCG hormone, which is only produced once a conception occurs. As the fetus grows, the hormone levels increase and other signs of pregnancy appear. Your doctor will typically run a blood or urine pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy at your first prenatal visit.
- Women begin to notice an increase in the size of their abdomen and the uterus will change shape; this shape change can be detected in a pelvic exam. There are a few other conditions that can cause a uterus to enlarge, but an ultrasound will confirm that a pregnancy is growing.
Being aware of the signs of pregnancy allows you to make sure that you are taking care of yourself as soon as possible and to give your baby the best start possible.