Here are some of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Remember that these symptoms could also have other causes.
A missed period (amenorrhoea) – this is the most reliable sign of pregnancy. If you usually have regular periods and you are late, you should consider having a pregnancy test. Some women may experience bleeding earlier than their expected period and for a shorter duration (see implantation bleeding). In rare cases women have light periods throughout their pregnancy.
Changes in your breasts - breasts become larger and tender to the touch. Veins may show up more and the skin around the nipples (areola) may darken.
Headaches – a common complaint early in pregnancy. They usually disappear by mid pregnancy.
Nausea and vomiting – affects about 50% of pregnant women. The term “morning sickness” is often used as nausea and vomiting is usually worse in the morning but it can happen any time of the day or night. It can start after missing the first or second period and continue up to the time the fourth period (16th week of pregnancy) has been missed.
Frequent urination (micturition) – more urine is formed due to an increased blood flow to the kidneys.
Feeling exhausted or sleepy – the body is adjusting itself physiologically for the pregnancy. Physiologically a pregnant woman becomes a super human being. All systems work harder: heartbeat is 40% faster, oxygen intake increases and carbon dioxide decreases, kidneys increase its output. Early in pregnancy many women complain of fatigue and a desire to sleep for longer periods. This remits by the fourth month of pregnancy.
Food cravings – some women may also lose their liking for certain foods or drinks. An aversion to coffee is particularly common. In rare cases, women have been known to eat non-food substances such as soil or coal. This condition is called Pica.
Increased vaginal discharge without soreness or irritation – due to the cervical glands secreting more mucus as a result of high levels of oestrogen manufactured by the placenta.
Ilse Pauw, Health24, November 2003
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