What are the top ten signs that you are pregnant?
Do you have a sneaking suspicion that you may be pregnant?
Have you missed a period?
Are you experiencing any of the following:
1.Exhaustion – like you have never experienced before
I still remember this stage in my pregnancy, I felt so exhausted I could barely lift my head or string a sentence together. I was dragging my feet (a lot more than normal) and was crawling to my bed as soon as possible (usually about 6pm, earlier if I could!). Are you relating to this right now? , well rest assured that this is completely normal to feel like this especially during the first trimester.
What causes this extreme fatigue?
Well can you imagine the changes your body is starting to go through right now and the energy that goes into carrying your baby even at this early stage. Hormonal changes are a major contributing factor to this fatigue, especially the increased levels of progesterone. Your body is working much harder to produce more blood to carry essential nutrients to your growing baby which is made more difficult as your blood pressure and blood sugars are also lower during this time.
However you will be glad to hear that after the first trimester, your body will begin to get used to these hormonal and emotional changes giving you renewed energy, but do not get too excited. As your baby is developing and putting more demands on your body, this fatigue will return in the third trimester which is heightened by the heartburn, pelvic pain and inability to get in a comfortable position to sleep, oh and the frequent toileting.
Please note: If you are having prolonged severe fatigue which continues throughout the pregnancy speak with your midwife or GP. Look out for signs of breathlessness and dizziness as this may be the sign that you are anemic which is a common treatable condition which is prevalent during pregnancy.
How to deal with this exhaustion?
Its time to listen to your body– if your tired, rest when you can. Do the tasks that are essential and do not worry about a few dishes- believe me they do not go anywhere while you have a nap to revitalise yourself.
Look after your diet: eat healthy and regularly. Cut out caffeine, alcohol and the recommended foods to avoid during pregnancy. I know morning sickness can be a problem during the first trimester but it is important to get the essential calories and nutrients for both you and the baby. If you are struggling to get enough nutrients during this time, speak with your midwife or GP.
Never say no to help: if someone offers to help in some way around the house or to look after any children you have at present, snap their hand off. Use this time to rest.
A healthy balance of rest and physical activity: Now just because I say rest when given the opportunity, I do not mean all day everyday. Its important to have some sort of physical activity (which obviously bears no harm to you or baby). Go for a nice leisurely stroll or a nice swim (avoiding the Jacuzzi and sauna though)
2. Sore, swelling breasts
Oh my goodness, SORE I mean excruciatingly sore to the point that you could cry putting on or taking off a bra. This is definitely one of the common and earliest signs of pregnancy usually starting around week 4 to week 7. The reason for this tenderness is due to the rise is hormones namely progesterone and estrogen.You will be glad to know that you should get relief after the first trimester though your breasts will continue to change throughout your pregnancy preparing your body for breastfeeding.
3. Abdominal bloating
Are you wondering why your comfy best fitting jeans are all of a sudden just not fitting right and feel SO UNCOMFORTABLE, well again due to the change in hormones, you may experience the feeling of being bloated.
4. Nausea and vomiting (otherwise known as morning sickness)
Are certain foods and smells starting to turn your stomach even though you usually love them? I remember for me, it was apple scented stuff! I have only started letting apple stuff back into the house now and still refuse apple scented air freshener!.
According to an article by Quinla, JD and Hill, DAmorning sickness affects approximately 80 % of pregnant women. It can affect some women as early as two weeks but others it could affect them one- two months after conception. I do not know who named it morning sickness because as you are probably experiencing right now, it does not just affect you in the morning.
The exact cause of morning sickness is unclear. Morning sickness for most women is mild but for a minority of woman they may experience a more severe form known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Obviously with this more severe condition, it poses a negative impact on both mother and baby and some women may need hospital admission for monitoring and fluid and nutritional support.
It goes without saying, if you are having severe vomiting, get in contact with your GP.
5. Heightened sense of smell
Heightened sense of smell during pregnancy is common and the majority of pregnant women report that this as one of their symptoms. It is also believed that this is the main trigger for the nausea and vomiting (Cameron, 2014).
6. Frequent urination
This is a common early sign of pregnancy and throughout the different stages of your pregnancy, the need to go to the toilet varies. Sometimes you may go frequently, other times you may feel like your going just as you normally would. There are various reasons for this increased need to urinate. When we are pregnant, there is an increase in body fluid. With this extra fluid, your kidneys have to work harder to get rid of the waste products. Although there may be less pressure on the bladder in the second trimester when the uterus is higher, as your baby grows and moves lower in preparation for birth this pressure will rise again, heightening the need and urgency to urinate.
Oh my, like you could not believe. I thought I had experienced constipation before pregnancy but nothing like this. I was brought to tears a few times because of it.
According to an article by Trottier, M, Erebara, A and Bozzo, P (2012) It is estimated that 11% to 38% of pregnant women experience constipation. Due to changes which occur in the gastrointestinal tract during pregnancy, women are more prone to constipation during this time. The rise in hormones can affect the bowel transit time and due to increased water absorbance from the intestines, the stool dries out. Supplements such as iron, is another contributing factor. As a woman goes further into her pregnancy, the movement of stool is further slowed down with the enlargement of the uterus.
A midwife at the hospital advised me to try liquorice or a ‘nice sweet pear’ but for me prunes was my saving grace.
8. Mood swings
Due to the hormonal changes during pregnancy, it is normal to have mood swings. Every woman is different on how they handle these changes. Some feel more low in mood or anxious, others may have heightened emotions high or low.
IMPORTANT: if you are struggling with your mood and have thoughts of self harm, please contact your GP or mental health practitioner immediately.
9. Missed period
This is one of the obvious early signs of pregnancy however as other factors such as stress can contribute to missed periods, this is not definitive in itself.
10. Pregnancy test
The truth is in the test.
For reliability, it is best to wait until after you miss your period to do a test. A pregnancy test measures the hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) which is a hormone produced during pregnancy and is present in the blood and urine from 10-14 days post conception. If your first test was negative, it is possible that you have done it too early. If you are displaying the common signs of pregnancy and your period has not appeared, redo a test in a few days.
And with a positive result
A huge CONGRATULATIONS from Miamama.
Cameron, EL. (2014) Pregnancy and olfaction: a review. Front Psychol. [online] 5(67). Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3915141/ 
Quinla, JD and Hill, DA (2003) Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. American Family Physician. [online]
Trottier, M, Erebara, A and Bozzo, P (2012) Treating Constipation during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. [online] 58(8): 836- 838. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418980/ [August 2012]