Practical advice for new parents

Early Pregnancy Symptoms

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'Am I or am I not pregnant?'. This is a question that countless women have asked themselves throughout the ages. The reality is that pregnancy symptoms can be quite elusive, varying from woman to woman, and pregnancy to pregnancy. While many women only suspect a pregnancy after they miss their period, others begin to experience symptoms only days after conception, well before they would test positive on a home pregnancy test

It is necessary to be aware of possible pregnancy symptoms to rule out other conditions and also to seek early prenatal care if you are pregnant. Here are the most common early pregnancy signs that you should look out for:

Absence of, or Shorter, Period

The missed period is often the impetus to take a pregnancy test however it is common for some women to experience some bleeding around the time that a period would occur. This is most generally from the embryo attaching to the wall of the uterus. Along with light bleeding, cramping is also common thus bearing a similarity to a light period.

Breast Changes

This is frequently the first symptom of pregnancy. As early as one week before you would be expecting your period, you may notice that your breasts are tender to the touch and slightly enlarged. Your skin around your nipples, also called the areolas, may darken. Because many women have breast tenderness before their period, this symptom can be easily overlooked.

Exhaustion

Being unusually sleepy or fatigued can also occur very early in a pregnancy. If you are pregnant, exhaustion will most likely be a symptom that will hang on through at least the first trimester and then reappear during the last weeks of pregnancy.

Nausea

Commonly referred to as 'morning sickness' nausea can strike anytime after the second week of pregnancy, and at any time of the day. It can be as minor as being 'turned off' by certain foods or smells to as extreme as repeated bouts of vomiting. Over fifty percent of women will experience nausea at some point during their pregnancy. For some women, the feeling of nausea can stay with them for the majority of the term of the pregnancy, whilst for others, it will last a relatively short time.

Headaches

Headaches are a very common pregnancy symptom. You can blame your hormones if you experience early pregnancy headaches. Fortunately, they usually dissipate by the beginning of the second trimester.

Food Cravings

This is one of the most mysterious of all pregnancy symptoms. Cravings can begin early in pregnancy and last until your baby is born. Everyone has heard of pregnant women who crave pickles and ice cream. However, you are just as likely to crave certain ethnic cuisine or crunchy raw vegetables such as carrots and celery.

Increased Urination

Along with nausea, this is one of the most annoying pregnancy symptoms. You will begin passing more fluid through your kidneys by around the sixth week of pregnancy. You may find yourself getting up several times a night to urinate. This becomes even more apparent during the third trimester when your growing baby begins pressing heavily on your bladder.


If you have had unprotected intercourse during the last month, and you are experiencing any of the above pregnancy symptoms, you may be pregnant. The next step is to take a home pregnancy test. Most at-home tests are effective by the first day of your period. If you test negative, you may still be pregnant and should retest in a couple of days. If you test positive, call your doctor or healthcare practitioner to schedule an appointment. Proper prenatal care is vital to the health of you and your baby.