early signs of pregnancy are many
Symptoms become evident. FILE PHOTO

Women with a heightened awareness and sensitivity may notice some of the early signs of pregnancy within moments after conception.

The early signs of pregnancy are many and are uniquely felt by every mother-to-be experiencing the rush of hormones through her body, progesterone exploding within her, as she prepares to bring another human being into the world. 

Amazing things happen to a woman’s body as she prepares to give life. We explore some of the early signs of pregnancy and look at reasons for them:

Early signs of pregnancy

Conception

A woman can know when she ovulates, but knowing the exact moment when conception takes place is not so easy. It may happen moments or days after sex as the sperm may linger in the fallopian tube before implantation. 

Early signs of pregnancy: The first week

Oddly enough, the first week of pregnancy is calculated from the last menstrual period. This means that someone may be considered pregnant even before conception begins, and way before any symptoms appear.

Early signs of pregnancy: the first two weeks

Women with a heightened awareness and sensitivity may notice some of the early signs of pregnancy within moments after conception. Other women may dismiss their tender breasts, additional fatigue, bloating and nausea. 

Felt a week-and-a-half before a woman’s period is scheduled to arrive, these early symptoms may be mistakenly linked to premenstrual syndrome. There may be mild cramping and spotting, but for other mothers-to-be, there may be nothing out of the ordinary at all. 

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Early signs of pregnancy: the first three weeks

It’s only when women miss their first period after having had unprotected sex that they begin to wonder if they are pregnant. It’s at this point that they may decide to take a pregnancy test even though they have yet to feel any early signs of pregnancy. 

A pregnancy test, however, may not necessarily show accurate results and has been known to be wrong when women have tested too early for the home kit to pick up on the human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) ‘pregnancy’ hormone. 

The most common test is a urine sample used in home pregnancy testing kits available over the counter, however, blood tests give a more reliable result from the earliest stages of pregnancy.

An internal examination conducted by a doctor will also reveal whether a woman is expecting. The doctor will be able to notice early signs of pregnancy by noting the colour of the cervix as it becomes softer and more succulent to indicate that the body is preparing itself for child-bearing. 

Within weeks of conception, the uterus is already getting bigger and signs of this are evident to the trained medical eye. Despite the changes, doctors still perform blood and uterus tests to confirm their findings. 

In other cases, a woman may skip menstruation for reasons other than conception. These include stress, sickness, strenuous exercise or starvation. 

For women who have irregular menstrual cycles, it may be tricky to rely on missed periods as an early sign of pregnancy. 

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Signs of pregnancy are uniquely felt by every mother-to-be
Signs of pregnancy are uniquely felt by every mother-to-be. FILE PHOTO

Early signs of pregnancy: symptoms become evident

Cramping

Mild cramps of the uterus occur when a fertilized egg or embryo attaches itself to the uterus lining during implantation. The effects of this are temporary and may result in light spotting, known as implantation bleeding. 

Breast pain

The initial tingly tenderness felt in the breast weeks after conception begins to peak in the first trimester as the blood flow to the breasts increases. 

Hormones cause breasts to gorge as milk-producing glands are stimulated and milk ducts grow to prepare for breastfeeding. Blue veins pump extra blood to the area causing the size and shape of a woman’s nipples to change. 

Fatigue

Tiredness is an early sign of pregnancy which peaks at around twelve weeks but gets better when a woman enters the second trimester

The fatigue is linked to the production of progesterone which can lead to drowsiness but also helps prepare the body for child production. 

Nausea (Morning sickness)

Not all women experience feelings of nausea during pregnancy. Research suggests that nausea, with or without vomiting, maybe due to the effects of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), hormone women begin producing shortly after a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine lining. 

Studies have shown that women who experience this early symptom of pregnancy have a lower risk of miscarriage, and could be a sign of viable placental tissue. Not experiencing nausea is no cause for alarm, either. 

Urination/constipation

The need to go to the toilet increases during pregnancy. Though annoying, it is a normal part of pregnancy-associated with the increased blood flow being pumped through the body causing the need for kidneys to produce extra fluids which end up in the bladder. 

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The symptom begins in the first trimester at around week 4, however, the pressure is relieved in the second trimester after the uterus rises into the woman’s abdominal cavity. It returns later in pregnancy from week 35 onward.

Constipation also happens to some women as a result of hormonal changes causing their digestive system to slow down. 

Food cravings

The sudden urge to eat particular foods during pregnancy is a real phenomenon which can start from the first trimester as some women may begin to notice a metallic taste in their mouth or become extra sensitive to smells of different foods. 

The cravings are heightened as progesterone, the pregnancy hormone, causes appetites to swell. 

In this period, the women may feel drawn to specific foods or food combinations. 

Early signs of pregnancy: Twins

Many mothers who experience twin pregnancies report they felt that there were multiple fetuses within them even before the ultrasound. 

While they experience the same symptoms as other mothers, hormones are working at an even faster pace. Elevated hormones mean more fatigue and, in some cases, mothers-to-be of twins state they experience elevated morning sickness which lasted longer into their pregnancy – sometimes well into the 14th week.

The second heartbeat may be detected as early as eight to 10 weeks using a fetal doppler, Women carrying multiple babies may feel fetal movement slightly earlier than mothers carrying one baby.