Whether you are attempting to conceive or suspect you might be in for a big surprise, many women wonder if there are any reliable signs of pregnancy. The simple answer is yes!
Right from conception a women’s body begins going through huge changes aimed at accommodating and ultimately birthing a growing baby. So too an embryo, right from creation, begins to impact on the physiology of its mother’s body. What does this all add up to? Changes!
When will I start to notice?
The implantation of an embryo in your uterus is like the green light on a race track. Your body takes off down the pregnancy road, picking up speed as it goes and throwing out signs of pregnancy left and right. However until implantation occurs your body is blithely unaware of the journey it is about to embark on.
If you are trying to conceive, you may be desperate for the tiniest hint of pregnancy. However you should not expect to experience any signs of pregnancy until 7 to 10 days after ovulation which is when implantation generally occurs. Remember that every woman is different and can have any combination or symptoms or experience no signs of pregnancy at all. Keeping in mind that the only definitive way to know you are pregnant is by taking a pregnancy test, following are some of the obvious and not quite so obvious signs of pregnancy.
One of the most obvious signs of pregnancy is missing your period. It is important to keep in mind that other factors such as high stress, major illness or surgery can also create this symptom. Some women experience spotting as a result of embryo implantation that they may mistake for the start of their period. This spotting is usually pinkish in colour and not red like a normal period. Conversely, some women may still have a light period after conception and in rare cases continue to have periods during pregnancy.
From conception your breasts are getting ready for their big role – feeding your baby. From very early on you may notice your breasts become more tender, sensitive or sore than they usually are before a period. They may also change visually, with nipples or areolas deepening in colour, veins appearing more prominent, or the little bumps on your areolas increasing or enlarging. These can all be signs of pregnancy.
When you fall pregnant your metabolism increases in order to support your developing baby, as well as your own body. Combine this with the sedating effect that the hormone progesterone produces and you have a potential recipe for immense tiredness. While obviously fatigue can be caused by many factors it can also be one of the early signs of pregnancy!
Morning sickness, which should really be called any-time-of-day sickness, can hit very early in pregnancy, persisting through your first trimester and sometimes beyond. However while nausea and vomiting can be one of the early signs of pregnancy, it can also relate to a multitude of other illnesses and maladies.
Increased Cervical Mucus
The production of cervical mucus is a normal process impacted by your hormone levels. Many women notice changes in cervical mucus production as they move through their monthly cycle. When pregnant a surge in progesterone often results in the production of creamy cervical mucus, the amount of which varies form woman to woman.
Shortly after implantation, embryos begin to secrete the pregnancy hormone hCG. This hormone irritates the bladder which can result in frequent and strong urges to urinate. However while the urge may see you rushing to the bathroom more, you will more than likely only urinate small amounts.
Constipation and Wind
Those same hormones that affect urination also affect your intestines, making them more relaxed. While this helps to make more space for your baby as your uterus expands it can also result in constipation and increased wind. Although tricky to define constipation and increase wind can be one of the signs of pregnancy.
High Basal Body Temperature
If you are trying to conceive you may be charting your cycle and taking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT). While your BBT usually drops significantly after ovulation and heading towards your period, if you are pregnant your BBT will remain high. This is one of the more reliable signs of pregnancy.
Heightened Sense of Smell
Yes you did read that right, when pregnant women can experience a heightened sense of smell. You may find smells that never bothered you before, suddenly seem unbearable. You may find you are particularly intolerant to food and cooking smells, and experience nausea when cooking or smelling ingredients or dishes you normally love.
Heightened Emotional State
Many women experienced hightened emotions as a result of PMS. However pregnancy sets the body adrift on a sea of hormones which, not surprisingly, can create strong emotions. You may find yourself bursting into tears without good reason, feeling irritable at every little thing, or becoming impatient and angry in situations you would usually take in your stride.
Like being transported back to adolescence, one of the signs of pregnancy is an unexpected outbreak of pimples or acne on your usually clear skin. These outbreaks are caused by changing hormone levels and usually settle down as your pregnancy progresses.
Nasal Stuffiness and Colds
Your immune system is on guard 24/7 watching for foreign objects which can cause illness and disease. Where it not for your foetus producing hormones and antibodies which suppress your immune system, your body might reject your baby. However this immune suppression can make you more susceptible to colds and other common illnesses. Altering hormones can also generate nasal stuffiness.
Odd Tastes and Cravings
One of the more unusual signs of pregnancy, many women comment in early pregnancy on an odd metallic taste in their mouth – like chewing on a piece of tinfoil. This is created by rising hormone levels which can affect your saliva. Women may also crave a certain food, or in some cases even non-food substances such as chalk or clay (a condition called Pica). It is believed that these cravings may reflect the body’s need for certain vitamins or minerals it is deficient in.