We all have off days, sicky days and late periods, but when do you know that something is different, has changed?
Some women can tell as soon as they have conceived that they are pregnant, simply because they feel 'different'. Others need to experience the physical signs of pregnancy before realising that there will soon be the patter of tiny feet!
There are a few fairly obvious signs that you are, or could be pregnant. There are also many, subtle signs that are often overlooked.
Some of these symptoms, especially nausea and a missed period, can also be attributed to other causes, other than pregnancy.
If you think you might be pregnant, read on and see how many of the symptoms you can relate to. As with all potential pregnancies, confirmation by your GP is always required before cracking open the celebratory orange juice!
Nausea with or without vomiting – Morning sickness is one of the telltale signs of early pregnancy. Most women feel some sickness around four to eight weeks of pregnancy, but the queasiness can begin as early as two weeks after conception. The name can be deceiving, as it can occur any time, day or night, not just in the morning. Thought to be caused by an increase in hormones, a heightened sense of smell can also trigger sickness to food and other odours, such as cigarette smoke and perfume.
Frequent urination – This is caused by the enlarging uterus pressing on your bladder, which results in a reduced bladder size. Keep a look-out for the nearest loo!
Headaches – Mild headaches in early pregnancy may be the result of increased blood circulation, thanks to the hormones, again!
Constipation – An increase in progesterone causes digestion to slow down, so food passes more slowly through the body, which can lead to constipation.
Mood swings – The flood of hormones in early pregnancy can make you unusually emotional and weepy. This is common in the first trimester.
Fainting and dizziness – This is very common and is usually the result of circulatory changes as your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure drops. In early pregnancy it can also be triggered by low blood sugar or lack of iron.
Tender, swollen breasts or nipples – A common indicator to pregnancy is the way your breasts feel. They may feel tender, tingly, or sore, and even fuller and heavier. These changes are often most dramatic when you are pregnant for the first time.
Fatigue – Many women feel wiped out during pregnancy, especially in the early stages. Your body is working hard during the first few weeks, pumping out hormones and producing more blood to carry nutrients to your baby. To accommodate this blood flow, your heart pumps harder and faster. Also, progestereone is a natural central nervous system depressant, so high levels of this hormone can make you sleepy.
Slight bleeding or cramping – Some women experience a small amount of spotting or bleeding very early in pregnancy. Known as implantation bleeding, it happens when the fertilised egg first attaches to the lining of the uterus. This bleeding is usually spottier and lighter in colour than a usual period and doesn't last long.
Backaches – Although common throughout pregnancy, hormones in the first few weeks can soften the ligaments, causing lower back aches and pains.
Darkening of aerolas and linea negra.
If you are pregnant, you might notice the skin around your nipples, the aerolas, getting darker. You might also notice the pale line that runs from your public bone up your stomach becomes a pale, coffee colour, later turning a dark brown. This is called the linea negra. It may pale after birth, but never completely disappears.
These symptoms are only a rough guide, but if you do relate to one or more of the above, there are two options. A test, whether it be shop-bought or done at your doctor's surgery can tell you for sure if you are expecting. Alternatively, if you would rather wait and see if the symptoms pass, as you feel they might be related to something else, this is also your choice.