Jul 22 2009

Am I Pregnant- Pregnancy Symptoms Made Easy

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What are the symptoms of being pregnant?

The most obvious one in your menstrual period stopping. Your period can be late or not appear for many reasons so not getting your period does not automatically mean that you are pregnant. This is especially true if you do not want to become pregnant. The stress from worrying about getting pregnant is enough to delay your period, just when you are expecting it. This will cause even more stress and delay your period even more. Despite this, missing your period is normally the one symptom that tip-off a woman that she might be pregnant.

Many other changes can also tip her off. like your period not appearing on time, these changes are not exclusive to being pregnant. Unfortunately some may also be pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS).

The most universal early signs of pregnancy are:

  • Sore and painful breasts
  • Light spotting a few days before your period is due
  • No period when you expect it

Pregnancy signs

  • Sore or swollen breasts – Almost all pregnant women suffer from sore and tender breasts caused by the pregnancy hormone hCG and other hormones. These hormones are the first changes in a woman’s body after conception (even before implantation). It is also the hormone that cause a positive pregnancy test so the sore breasts can occur very early. The breasts will also increase in size causing stares from people around you. Almost all pregnant women will suffer from this. 
    • Alternative explanation: Hormonal imbalance, birth control pills, impending menstruation (PMS) can also cause your breasts to be swollen or tender.
  • Missed period – Period will not arrive when scheduled. All pregnant women will get this.  
    • Alternative explanation: Excessive weight gain/loss, fatigue, hormonal problems, tension, stress, ceasing to take the birth control pill, or breast-feeding.
  • Cramps – Implantation can cause the uterus walls to stretch causing cramps
    • Alternative explanation: Pre-menstrual stress
  • Spotting – About a quarter of pregnant women suffer spotting when the ovum boroughs into the uterus wall to implant from 10 to 14 days after fertilization. Spotting is blood that is only visible as a smear on toilet paper when you wipe your vulva, when you wash or will leave only one or two drops on your underwear or panty liner. Implantation blood is lighter in color than menstrual blood, start a bit earlier than the period and does not last as long. About a quarter of pregnant women will get spotting. 
    • Alternative explanation: Actual menstruation, altered menstruation, changes in birth control pill, infection, or abrasion from intercourse.
  • Fatigue and Tiredness – In the first few weeks you can feel unusually tired due to the heightened progesterone hormone levels. A total lack of energy can also set in as the body diverts energy to growing the fetus. About 85% of pregnant women will suffer from this. 
    • Alternative explanation: Stress, exhaustion, depression, common cold or flu, or other illnesses can also leave you feeling tired or fatigued.
  • Nipple darkening – Dark skinned women may only start showing this after week 10. About 85% of pregnant women will suffer from this.  
    • Alternative explanation: Hormonal imbalance unrelated to pregnancy or may be a leftover effect from a previous pregnancy.
  • Nausea – 85% of all pregnant women experience morning sickness. This may start as early as the 3rd week and last until week 8. It is also called ‘morning sickness’ but can occur at any time.
    • Alternative explanation: Food poisoning, stress, or other stomach disorders can also cause you to feel queasy.
  • Bloating – Caused by the hormone progesterone. About 85% of pregnant women will suffer from this.  
    • Alternative explanation: Hormonal imbalance, birth control pills, impending menstruation (PMS)
  • Peeing – The kidneys are working extra hard to clean your up your blood for the baby. This normally start from week 6 to week 8. The growing fetus can also press on your bladder to aggravate this problem. Because of the stress being put on your bladder, you might start to leak urine when you laugh, sneeze or cough. About 85% of pregnant women will suffer from this.  
    • Alternative explanation: Urinary tract infection, diabetes, increasing liquid intake, or taking excessive diuretics.
  • Food cravings – Because of the drain on energy and the need for carbohydrates. About 85% of pregnant women will suffer from this.  
    • Alternative explanation: Poor diet, lack of a certain nutrient, stress, depression, or impending menstruation.
  • Headaches – The blood volume increases causing headaches until the body adjusts to this
    • Alternative explanation: Dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, impending menstruation, eye strain, or other ailments can be the source of frequent or chronic headaches.
  • Constipation – The digestive system slows down. The hormone progesterone is causing this
  • Mood swings and Stress – You can have rapid mood swings and even cry sometimes in early pregnancy because of the hormone changes in your body.
    • Alternative explanation: Pre-menstrual stress
  • Basal Body Temperature (BBT) – Temperatures stay at post-ovulation levels. This will only be observable if you chart your BBT with a BBT Themometer.

The only reliable symptom is a positive pregnancy test. All the other symptoms can be explained by other events. A positive home pregnancy test (HPT), blood test or ultrasound can confirm pregnancy.

References:

Pregnancy Symptoms, Early Signs of Pregnancy  – American Pregnancy Association

Symptoms of Pregnancy: What Happens Right Away – Mayo Clinic

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