If you haven’t taken a pregnancy test or had an ultrasound to confirm it yet, you might have experienced a few symptoms that have you wondering “Am I pregnant?” There are a few signs that could point to the possibility. Here’s what to look for in early pregnancy:
1. Missed Period
The most obvious indicator, and the first that many women notice, is a missed period. If you have a 28-day menstrual cycle and you are a week late, you should take a pregnancy test. Home pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy at a reliable rate when you have a missed period. With a positive result, you should contact your doctor to get prenatal care started.
2. You’re Feeling Bloated
Similar to what you might experience before a regular period, you may start to feel bloated during early pregnancy. Some women may find it difficult to tell the difference between being bloated or pregnant, as they share common symptoms. During early pregnancy, progesterone increases to prepare the uterus for new changes. The progesterone may slow digestion, which can lead to trapped gas in the intestines, causing abdominal bloating.
3. Nausea and Vomiting
Usually referred to as morning sickness, it’s not restricted to any specific time of day and can be mild and irritating, to significantly weakening, which may require medical care. Starting around week 4 to 5 through about 16 weeks, quickly rising hormones may cause problems with nausea and vomiting. After 16 to 17 weeks, many women start noticing the nausea resolve. Eating small meals often, munching on saltine crackers, drinking plenty of fluids and getting adequate rest should help relieve morning sickness.
4. Food Cravings/ Food Aversions
Some women will experience food cravings or food aversions in early pregnancy, which may relate to the hormonal changes her body is experiencing. Try to maintain a healthy diet to ensure your growing baby is getting all the essential nutrients he or she needs. If you can’t stomach something, don’t try to force yourself to eat it. Sneak in some fruits and veggies, and make sure you’re taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin to help supplement any nutrients you may be missing. Your doctor can help you navigate the cravings and aversions and offer advice to help ease symptoms.
5. Fatigue and Exhaustion
Fatigue can be overwhelming in the first few months of pregnancy. The woman’s body is growing a baby at an incredible rate, consuming energy and leaving her feeling tired during her morning meetings, her afternoon phone calls or evening date night. Fatigue can happen at any time of day and can sometimes be the woman’s only sign of pregnancy. Many of the normal changes that occur in a woman’s body in the early stages of pregnancy (lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure and higher levels of progesterone) could be cause for fatigue. Food aversions and nausea can also worsen fatigue if a woman is struggling to eat, because of the lack of protein and energy consumed. If you’re experiencing exhaustion, make sure to get plenty of rest. Take a nap when you can, schedule a little more downtime for yourself, and try to exercise a few days a week.
6. Breast Tenderness and Soreness
Breast tenderness or soreness is another potential sign of early pregnancy. As hormones increase, the breast tissue responds by expanding and swelling which can cause discomfort. Your breasts may start to feel heavier and fuller, so finding a supportive and comfortable bra might be a priority on your shopping list.
7. The Constant Need to Pee
If you’ve noticed yourself making frequent trips to the bathroom at night, you may be experiencing a symptom of early pregnancy. Frequent urination can be an issue very early in pregnancy as the kidneys are working harder and your uterus is expanding to accommodate your growing baby. While it’s important to stay hydrated during pregnancy, you can reduce the amount of liquids you drink in the hours leading up to bed. Avoiding too much caffeine can also help reduce the need to go.
Constipation is another typical change for an early pregnant mother. Elevated levels of progesterone cause a woman’s digestive track to slow down. This allows nutrients to absorb easier for the baby, but also creates an uncomfortable problem of constipation. Be sure to drink plenty of water, as this can help alleviate constipation and bloating.
9. Mild Cramping
Cramping is a common sign of early pregnancy. In the first trimester, an ovarian cyst, called a corpus luteal cyst, develops that makes progesterone to support the growing pregnancy. As the pregnancy moves into the second trimester, this cyst will typically resolve. However, it can be the source of crampy pain or fullness in a women’s pelvis during the early stages of pregnancy. The growing and expanding uterus itself may also be the source of lower abdominal discomfort as the uterine muscle grows and expands to accommodate the maturing pregnancy. Warm baths, gentle yoga or even lying down can help ease discomfort. Call your doctor right away if you have significant or severe lower abdominal pain that doesn’t resolve on its own.
Many of these symptoms aren’t solely unique to pregnancy, and some can even indicate your period is about to start. However, if you do miss a period and notice several of these symptoms, take a home pregnancy test or see your health care provider. For more information on our Obstetrics department, click here.