Common signs of pregnancy
- Missed or late period
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Sore and tender breasts
- Change in sense of smell
- Nausea or morning sickness
- A very light period compared to your usual regular period.
The signs of pregnancy vary. Some early pregnancy symptoms are obvious, while others are not. In this article I discuss more about each of the symptoms listed above.
The most obvious symptom in early pregnancy is being late for your period which is easy for women who have a regular menstrual cycle to recognise, but a little less easy if your cycle varies a little bit, as is often the case. Obviously being a little bit late might give you an early clue and trigger for the need to do a urine pregnancy test.
Another pregnancy sign is nausea. Nausea can start quite early, often at around the 5-6 weeks mark, and if you are unlucky and you are at the more severe end of the morning sickness spectrum, you might by 6-7 weeks when you notice some vomiting as well and we will talk about that at a later topic. A low grade nausea can be an early clue.
Interestingly, lethargy and tiredness is possibly the most universal symptom that most women will report in early pregnancy and they will feel tired for no apparent reason. Even though the baby is tiny, lethargy is a strange and dominant symptom of early pregnancy, for instance, it may cause women who are used to doing a lot of exercise, just feel like taking a break. Often the lethargy can be connected to a number of symptoms and you can be a little light headed and dizzy on occasion and that is due to the typical effect of pregnancy where blood pressure is slightly lower on average, so a bit of light headedness and occasional dizziness is not unusual.
A really common sign of pregnancy is breast tenderness, particularly for the first pregnancy, but to some extent other pregnancies as well. Both breasts may be tender in the way they are for many women just before their period, but that tenderness continues and increases somewhat, and that is quite normal.
A light period
Your period may arrive but may seem a bit strange and you might just have some spotting or a very very light period in connection with these symptoms. So, if your period is very light and you have had unprotected sex during the previous month, consider whether it could be pregnancy and the reason you are not getting a full period is that you are getting what’s called, a little bit of implantation bleeding – which happens when the embryo embeds in the wall of the uterus around the time you are due for your period.
Sense of smell
Sense of smell can change and that’s a sign of pregnancy. It’s an odd and sometimes amusing thing, but also often a quite marked change in sense of smell is mentioned by pregnant women. In fact, your sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy. Women in early pregnancy will notice that foods may smell stronger, certain things like vegetables being cooked, or meat being cooked in the kitchen can be quite strong to the point of even triggering nausea and so this can often lead to a sense of food aversion. Certain foods that you might have always liked, you suddenly go off. And certain foods that are not normally your thing, you become attracted to.
What are other signs of early pregnancy?
Change in bladder habit. The commonest thing that women will notice early on in pregnancy, is typically they will go to the toilet more often and pass more urine. They may also notice they are thirstier and are drinking more, and this is all part of physiological adaptation to maximise the environment for the baby. Good hydration and plenty of urine flow through your kidneys to maximise excretion of waste.
On the bowel side of things, your bowel habit typically changes. Most of my patients who are pregnant will vary towards constipation. A small number have increased bowel movements, but for most, it’s the other way and you certainly don’t want to let that drag on without addressing it. Talk to your doctor about what stool softeners might be suitable for you if you are getting constipated.
If Early Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms are noticed:
What to do if you notice these symptoms and/or are suspicious? It’s pretty simple these days, you just pick up a pregnancy test from your chemist and do a home pregnancy test. They are reliable and sensitive. If it’s positive, great and congratulations! Book in to see your GP to have a chat about early pregnancy testing and booking hospitals. If it’s negative, that’s fine, wait a week or so and your period will probably turn up and it’s could just be a late ovulation that has caused a delay in your period. If it’s still negative a week later and it’s a bit out of character for you, make an appointment to see your GP for a check-up.
The signs and symptoms of early pregnancy vary, some women get an enormous number of symptoms, others get very little. The strength and severity of symptoms isn’t a reliable guide to the wellbeing of the pregnancy so don’t worry if your experience early on is different to your friends or relatives when having a chat with them.
If you are pregnant and need an appointment to manage your pregnancy, call the rooms for an appointment.
This article has been written by Dr Peter England – Expert Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. Read more about Dr Peter England
You can also watch the video on this topic here.
This article is written and published by Dr Peter England, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist