Whether you’re hopeful or paranoid about the prospect of being pregnant, knowing how your body can respond to the change might give you a clue. Before you run to the drug store, go over any symptoms you may be experiencing. Even if you think you’re only a few weeks pregnant, your body may already be changing. This can result in a number of symptoms or signs that we’re about to cover.
A menstrual cycle that doesn’t appear when it should is usually the first indicator you might be pregnant. Stress and other factors can certainly interrupt your normal cycle. If your periods are generally regular and predictable, a late period is a big sign.
Enhanced Sense of Smell
Increased sensitivity to odors can also be indicative of pregnancy. As pregnancy progresses hormones become different from what you’re used to. Estrogen in particular can cause certain smells to become incredibly intense or repulsive. Everything from someone else’s meal across the restaurant to your own perfume may suddenly make you gag.
Dizziness or Fainting
If you are pregnant, that means you aren’t just eating for you anymore. The extra energy you are expending and the change in all your hormones can lower your blood sugar and blood pressure. Feeling dizzy — even passing out — is not necessarily uncommon, but it also should not become a regular occurrence. Make sure you are eating well and staying hydrated.
Spotting can be mistaken for a period, but it has a couple of distinct differences. If what you assume to be menstrual blood is much lighter than normal and a few days earlier than usual, it could actually be a side effect of the sperm’s implantation. When the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, it can sometimes cause a small amount of blood to be shed. Thus, spotting.
Pregnancy causes your levels of the hormone progesterone to drastically rise, which can lead to excessive sleepiness. Fatigue tends to be worse during the first trimester (some women even experience a burst of energy at the end of pregnancy when it’s time to really start “nesting”). If you’re battling exhaustion, take naps when you can and remember to take it easy on yourself — and the caffeine.
Nausea or Vomiting
“Morning sickness” affects more than half of new moms, generally starting around six weeks into pregnancy and going away in the second trimester. Unfortunately, some women experience ongoing nausea as early as three weeks along, and a few find it continues into the third trimester. If you have trouble keeping food down and it turns out you are pregnant, talk to your obstetrician about an antiemetic.
Frequent urination is probably one of the most obnoxious symptoms of being pregnant. Pregnancy makes your body to produce extra fluids, which is combined with the new weight sitting on your bladder. You might find yourself going more frequently during the day and unable to make it through the night.
Headaches can be caused by a number of things, but the changing hormones of pregnancy can bring on a major pain in the head. If you suspect you might be pregnant, make sure to take pregnancy-safe acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen to help with the pain. Of course, if you are stressed out about the prospect, your headaches could also be related to tension.
The ligaments of your body begin loosening as pregnancy progresses, making it easier for your hips and pelvis to spread during delivery. Back pain tends to continue into later stages of pregnancy, since your weight, center of gravity, and posture will all be changing.
Because cramping is also a common symptom of PMS, it can be hard to tell if it means something more than an impending period. During early pregnancy, your uterus starts stretching to get ready for the fetus, which can cause uncomfortable cramping. Abdominal pain can also be a sign of miscarriage, so pay attention to other signs from your body.
Shortness of Breath
Because a growing fetus needs oxygen, you may find yourself a little winded, even from simple tasks such as walking up a flight of stairs. This is a symptom that will likely persist throughout your pregnancy as well, as the developing baby begins to put pressure on your lungs and diaphragm.
Sore or Swollen Breasts
This is a very common early sign of pregnancy, since sudden hormonal changes can cause your breasts to feel very tender and sensitive. Your breasts may begin to feel fuller and heavier as well. Pregnancy will induce the glands in your breasts that produce milk to start working; eventually, you may notice a little bit of leakage as your body prepares for breastfeeding.
Food Cravings or Aversions
Pickles and ice cream may be a little extreme, but cravings are no joke. Hormonal changes can make you the victim of strange and intense cravings for certain foods. On the other hand, combined with an enhanced sense of smell, things you generally love may be overwhelmingly revolting.
Constipation or Bloating
Progesterone, the same hormone that makes you feel sleepy, can also slow your digestive system. This can cause constipation and bloating. If you don’t generally experience digestive issues and haven’t been overindulging in cheese, make a note of other signs you’re experiencing. On the other hand, many women face bloating as a result of PMS.
As your body is adjusting to the new levels of hormones, you might find yourself completely overreacting about small issues that wouldn’t normally bother you. Small issues can result in explosions of rage or uncontrollable bouts of tears. Combined with fatigue and poor sleep from getting up all night to pee and the anxiety of the unknown, you may find you don’t handle emotions like normal.