20 First Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

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In general, the first signs and symptoms appear 2 to 3 weeks after the sexual relationship that gave birth to the pregnancy.

Contrary to what many people believe, there are no symptoms of pregnancy in the first few days after fertilization. The early signs arise only when the embryo is implanted in the uterus, an event that occurs one to two weeks after intercourse.

From the implantation of the embryo in the womb until about the 13th week of gestation, the increase in the production of hormones will cause the woman to experience a significant number of symptoms. Most of them come from the 5th or 6th week of pregnancy.

The first symptoms of pregnancy in chronological order are:

  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Menstrual delay.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Pain in the breasts.
  • Breast augmentation.
  • Change in the appearance of the breasts.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Constipation.
  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Tiredness, and sleep.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Food desires.
  • Alteration of taste.
  • Aversion to odors.
  • I increase two gases.
  • Dizziness.
  • Humor variations.
  • Headache.
  • Vaginal discharge.
  • Acne.

 

First symptoms of pregnancy

 

1- Vaginal bleeding

  • Frequency: uncommon.
  • When it appears: between the 3rd and 4th week of gestation.

The first sign of pregnancy is usually mild vaginal bleeding. Not all women have this signal, and some of the signs do not recognize it as a symptom of pregnancy.

When the egg is fertilized, it transforms into a zygote (the first stage of the embryo) and begins to travel through the uterine horn toward the uterus. After 6 to 12 days of travel, the embryo arrives at the uterus and implants itself in its wall, process that is called nesting. This implantation can cause small uterine bleeding, which manifests as discreet vaginal bleeding.

How is the implantation of the embryo?

Since implantation bleeding can last up to three days, causes mild abdominal cramping, and occurs near the time that menstruation is expected, some women interpret it as weakened menstruation and do not suspect that this is their first sign of pregnancy.

In most cases, however, the implantation bleeding is quite discreet, ranging from a dark red to a slightly pinkish and slightly thickened discharge.

So if you are trying to get pregnant and have menstruation or discharge other than usual, be aware as this may be a sign of early pregnancy.

Is it normal to have bleeding in early pregnancy?

The only vaginal bleeding considered normal in early pregnancy is that which occurs during the implantation of the embryo in the uterus. This bleeding, however, usually appears before the woman knows she is pregnant.

Importantly, implantation of the embryo into the uterus is just one of several causes of vaginal bleeding in pregnancy. More than 20% of pregnant women have some bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Any bleeding that arises after the pregnant woman knows she is pregnant should be reported to the obstetrician.

 

2- Menstrual delay

  • Frequency: occurs in 100% of cases.
  • When it appears: around the 4th week.

Since implantation bleeding is not so common, in practice, the first symptom of pregnancy for most women ends up being delayed menstruation. This is the sign that usually leads women to take the pregnancy test.

Does every pregnant woman have a menstrual delay?

Yes, this signal is universal for all pregnant women. Those who are pregnant do not menstruate, and those who menstruate cannot be pregnant. Do we explain why this is detailed in the article: menstruation in pregnancy possible?

It is important to note, however, that not everyone is able to recognize delayed menstruation. Some women have very irregular menstrual cycles and have periods of anovulation (they do not ovulate during a given month), which means that the usual interval between menses is often longer than one or even two months.

In addition, as explained above, episodes of vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy may mimic a period, making the woman take time to notice that she is no longer menstruating.

Can menstruation delay and not be pregnancy?

Yes, menstruation can be delayed for reasons other than pregnancy, including stress, infections, birth control, changes in weight, tiredness, etc.

The very expectation of menstruation, when the woman does not want to get pregnant, but if she has neglected having unprotected sex, can cause a delayed menstrual period.

 

How many days late can I take the pregnancy test?

Current pregnancy tests for pharmacy or blood can already detect an ongoing pregnancy after the first day of menstrual delay.

If your period is late and you suspect you may be pregnant, read: When to take the pregnancy test?

3- Cramps or abdominal pain

  • Frequency: common.
  • When it appears: between the 4th and 5th week.

20 First Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
20 First Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
Abdominal pain is a sign of common pregnancy

In addition to mild bleeding, the first pregnancy can also cause some discomfort in the lower abdomen (belly foot) or a feeling of abdominal swelling, looking a lot like premenstrual symptoms.

These discomforts and cramps, when associated with vaginal bleeding, may well mislead the pregnant women, making them think they have menstruated.

Is it normal to have cramps during pregnancy?

Yes, it is perfectly normal and even expected to have cramps during pregnancy. In the first trimester, the pain usually originates from the onset of uterus growth and hormonal changes.

Abdominal pain is a symptom that can occur in the first, second, or third trimester of pregnancy. In the first weeks of gestation, it may be more of a feeling of heaviness or discomfort than colic.

 

4- Breast pain

  • Frequency: very common.
  • When it appears: around the 5th week.

Another typical sign of pregnancy, increased breast tenderness may appear early, only two to three weeks after fertilization. Often, simply touching your breasts or wearing a bra can be quite uncomfortable.

In women who do not have implantation bleeding and have not identified a delay in menstruation, breast pain may be the first symptom of pregnancy to be noticed.

 

5- Increase in breast size

  • Frequency: very common.
  • When it appears: around the 5th week.

In addition to sensitivity, the breasts of pregnant women also tend to get bigger, causing a feeling of swelling.

This breast augmentation occurs through hormonal changes that stimulate the development of the mammary glands, preparing them for the breastfeeding period that will come in the coming months.

The increase in breast volume usually occurs 1 or 2 weeks after the mother noticed that they are more sensitive.

 

6- Changes in the appearance of breasts

  • Frequency: very common.
  • When it appears: around the 5th to 6th week.

In addition to increased volume and pain, the hormones produced in pregnancy also make the breasts of pregnant women change their appearance. It is common to have darkening of the nipples and appearance of veins around the breasts. These changes last until the end of breastfeeding.

Another distinct change in the appearance of the breasts is the emergence of the Montgomery tubers, small nodules located in the areolas. These nodules are glands that produce secretions that keep the areola and nipple lubricated. As the breast grows during gestation, the tubers become more and more visible.

 

7- Nausea and vomiting

  • Frequency: very common.
  • When it appears: around the 5th to 6th week.

20 First Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
20 First Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
Nausea is a symptom of pregnancy that may occur in the first few weeks

Nausea and vomiting are classic symptoms of pregnancy. Up to 70% of pregnant women experience nausea in the first trimester.

In some cases, the sickness is so intense that the woman can not even feed herself. Serious nuisances, which require medical support, are part of a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum.

When does pregnancy sickness appear?

Nausea usually develops from the 6th week of gestation. However, there are women who present these symptoms as early as the 4th or 5th week.

How long does it take to get pregnant?

Nausea and vomiting are typical symptoms of the first trimester of pregnancy and tend to disappear in the second trimester. In most cases, nausea improves after week 12, and 90% of pregnant women no longer experience any degree of nausea at week 18.

Why do pregnant women get nauseous?

Causes of nausea during pregnancy are not fully understood. However, this symptom seems to be linked to the production of the hormone HCG, commonly referred to as the pregnancy hormone, which begins to be produced in large quantities when the embryo is implanted in the uterus.

 

8- Intestinal constipation

  • Frequency: common.
  • When it arises: usually in the 5th to 6th week.

Increased production of the hormone progesterone in pregnancy causes some organs and tissues of the body to become more “loose” or “relaxed.” This occurs in a way that facilitates the large volume expansion of the next uterus.

Among these organs are the intestines, which, because they suffer a reduction in their ability to contract, have more difficulty maintaining normal intestinal transit, which results in constipation.

 

9- Swollen belly

  • Frequency: common.
  • When it appears: around the 5th to 6th week.

You’d swear until last week that you fit into those super-tight jeans, and now, all of a sudden, your pants no longer wrap around your belly.

This can occur because even when the fetus is still too small to expand the uterus, some women have a certain swelling in the abdominal region, which occurs as a preparation of the body to support uterine growth.

This swelling is another symptom that can be mistaken for premenstrual symptoms.

 

10- Tiredness and excessive sleep

  • Frequency: very common.
  • When it appears: 5th to 6th week.

20 First Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
20 First Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
Pregnant with sleep

A feeling of fatigue disproportionate to your daily activities is a very common pregnancy symptom. If you already have a tiring routine during the day, it can become exhausting early in the gestation.

Increased sleep is also very common. Your body gives you signals that you need to rest more often. You may start wanting to go to bed earlier and have more difficulty than usual to wake up in the morning. During the day, a good nap seems to be all that you most want.

Why do pregnant women feel so much sleep and tiredness?

Tiredness and sleep in pregnancy occur due to hormonal changes, especially progesterone, which acts directly on the central nervous system and respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Tiredness is a symptom of early pregnancy that usually goes away in the second trimester. However, it returns at the end of pregnancy when the baby already finds himself large and heavy.

 

11- Frequent urination

  • Frequency: very common.
  • When it comes: from the 5th or 6th week.

After about six weeks of pregnancy, the pregnant woman begins to feel the urge to urinate more frequently. These trips to the bathroom can occur, even during the night, disrupting the pregnant woman’s sleep.

Why does the pregnant woman urinate frequently?

In the first few weeks, the urine buildup occurs by reducing the capacity of the bladder if it is completely emptied due to the relaxation caused by the pregnancy hormones. At the end of pregnancy, the very large fetus compresses the bladder, reducing its storage capacity and causing small volumes to trigger urination.

Increased urinary frequency is a symptom of early pregnancy, occurring in almost 100% of pregnant women and, unfortunately, lasts until the end of gestation.

It is important to note that if the increase in urinary frequency is accompanied by darker urine and/or burning to urinate, a urinary tract infection may be the cause.

 

12- Desire for food

  • Frequency: common.
  • When it comes: from the 6th week.

20 First Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
20 First Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
The desire for special foods is a symptom that usually arises in the second month of gestation

The craving for certain foods in the first weeks of gestation is one of the most clichéd symptoms of pregnancy. These strange desires may even make vegetarian women feel like eating hamburgers.

In the same way that they acquire these desires, pregnant women may also dislike certain foods and/or smells. That Japanese restaurant you love may, during pregnancy, make you nauseated just by going through the door.

Why do pregnant women feel cravings?

We do not know exactly why the food cravings of pregnancy. They are probably due to emotional changes and increases in hormones, especially progesterone and HCG.

Why do some pregnant women want to eat strange things like brick, ice, or earth?

The urge to eat substances that are culturally not considered food is called peckish or pica. When these strange desires arise in pregnancy, this may be a sign of micronutrient deficiency, such as iron, zinc, or selenium.

 

13- Changes in taste and smell

  • Frequency: common.
  • When it appears: around the 6th week.

In addition to having cravings and food aversions, changing your taste buds is another very common pregnancy symptom.

Sweets can become too sweet, the coffee you love comes to have a weird taste, and during the day you can feel a taste of metal in the mouth for no apparent reason.

 

14- Aversion to strong odors

  • Frequency: common.
  • When it appears: around the 6th week.

Just as some foods cause nausea in the first few weeks of pregnancy, intense, even pleasant smells like perfumes or foods can make you feel nauseous. Bad or very strong odors, such as cigarette smoke, gasoline, alcohol, cleaning products, etc., have the same effect.

A common symptom of pregnancy is a greater sense of smell. The pregnant woman refers to the sensation of having developed a super-smell. Odors that went unnoticed or did not bother, now become unbearable.

 

15- Frequent gas elimination

  • Frequency: common.
  • When it comes: Around the 6th week.

Some women experience increased intestinal gas in the first few weeks of pregnancy. This can be a distressing symptom in cases where the pregnant woman needs to be trapped inside an office or room with other people.

What are the symptoms of gas in pregnancy?

Excessive gestation occurs in the usual way: there is an increased need to burp and release flatus (pum), a sensation of the distended abdomen, a sensation of gas moving in the intestines and abdominal cramps.

 

16- Dizziness

  • Frequency: common.
  • When it comes: from the 6th week.

Dizziness is one of those classic pregnancy symptoms that appear in every movie when the character gets pregnant.

Pregnancy hormones cause several changes in the woman’s body, which can actually lead to dizziness, among which are the drop in blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, anemia, increased respiratory rate (which can lead to hyperventilation during a physical effort), insufficient feeding due to sickness, etc.

 

17- Variations of humor

  • Frequency: common.
  • When it appears: around the 6th week.

Another pregnancy symptom that everyone has seen in movies. The pregnant woman may cry until she sees a television commercial. Small things can gain disproportionate relevance.

Sudden mood swings are also common. The pregnant woman can go from allergy to sadness or sympathy to outbursts of a bad mood with people close at hand. There are cases of pregnant women who have even been asked to quit their jobs.

 

18- Headache

  • Frequency: uncommon.
  • When it appears: around the 8th week.

Hormonal changes, relaxation of blood vessels, and changes in cerebral blood flow explain why some pregnant women develop headaches during pregnancy. Stress and fatigue also contribute. Headache is a symptom that usually occurs in the first weeks of pregnancy.

 

19- Vaginal discharge

  • Frequency: common .
  • When it appears: around the 8th week.

The onset of vaginal discharge or intensification of her usual discharge is normal symptoms in pregnancy. Usually, the discharge becomes more intense in the second trimester of pregnancy, but some pregnant women notice the discharge from the beginning of the pregnancy.

How is pregnancy normal discharge?

Natural vaginal discharge is stimulated by estrogen and may be increased in periods in which there is increased hormonal stimulation, such as in pregnancy.

In general, this discharge is equal to the physiological discharge that some women have, being thick, milky, or transparent and without odor.

 

20- Acne

  • Frequency: uncommon.
  • When it comes: from the 10th week.

Hormonal changes can cause some pregnant women to develop acne or have acne worsening they already had before.

In the female sex, acne is closely related to unbalances of the sex hormones that cause an increase of the oiliness of the skin. Acne in pregnancy can be mild or severe and come on at any time during pregnancy.

 

Can you tell if I’m pregnant through the initial symptoms?

Diagnosis of pregnancy through symptoms was made in the old days when there were no pregnancy tests or ultrasonography.

As the initial symptoms are very nonspecific and only become obvious after months of gestation, it is not easy, nor does it make sense to diagnose pregnancy in this way. This does not mean, however, that acknowledging the first symptoms is not important.

The first signs and symptoms of pregnancy serve as a stimulus for women to take a pregnancy test, be it a pharmacy test or a  blood test for beta-hCG. Some women resort to home pregnancy testing when they suspect they are pregnant, but these are not only unreliable but can still be harmful, as explained in the article: Home Pregnancy Test – Myth or Truth?.

The sooner the patient knows she is pregnant, the sooner she can begin her prenatal care. That way, she can take beneficial measures to the fetus soon, such as controlling blood glucose, improving diet, using supplements – such as folic acid and iron – monitoring blood pressure, treating infections quickly and avoiding alcohol or medicines potentially harmful to the baby in the first trimester of pregnancy.

It is important to note that pregnancy symptoms are not the same for all women. In addition, the same mother may have symptoms in the second pregnancy completely different from those of the first. And even when these signals repeat themselves, they can vary in intensity, frequency, time of onset, and duration.

Another fact that should be highlighted is the fact that many of the early symptoms of gestation may be similar to the premenstrual discomforts to which you are accustomed. It is very common for nonpregnant women to confuse pre-menstrual symptoms with those of a possible early pregnancy.

Interestingly, the opposite is also true, as many pregnant women do not value the first symptoms and will only find out they are pregnant there at the end of the first quarter, when the signs become too obvious to be neglected.

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