Celebrating pregnancy

There’s something different about you and yet, you can’t quite put your finger on it. You missed your period but blame it on the stress at work. You feel nauseous and think it’s food poisoning. Soon enough, other signs manifest that you begin to wonder about. While it is a novel feeling, you will soon realize – or maybe someone else will point it out to you – that you are pregnant. How did you miss these symptoms of pregnancy? Read on to find out what these signs or symptoms are.

Common Early Symptoms of Pregnancy

One of the most common manifestations of pregnancy is a missed menstrual cycle. Women often react to ‘being late’, and immediately think it as a symptom of pregnancy. While it is, sometimes a missed period can mislead you. This is especially so if your menstrual cycle is irregular1.

Another common symptom is feeling nauseous. This may or may not include vomiting. Often referred to as morning sickness although it can occur at any time throughout the day, this symptom of pregnancy could happen as early as a month after pregnancy. The morning sickness happens because of the surge of hormones in the body1. In relation to this, the nausea can be caused by an increased sense of smell that pregnant women develop2.

Experiencing tenderness in your breasts is another early symptom of pregnancy. This feeling of soreness, fuller and heavier breasts is due to hormonal changes2. As the body adjusts to the imbalance, the discomfort may soon go away.

Frequent trips to the toilet is also a symptom of pregnancy to consider. While increased urination occurs early in the pregnancy, it can last well until the 16th week. This is due to the high levels of Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG). hCG is a pregnancy hormone that affects the bladder3. As the amount of blood in pregnant women increases, the kidneys work to process and filter the extra fluids out of the body3.

Feeling tired or exhausted is also among the early symptoms of pregnancy. This is due to the rising levels of progesterone that normally cause lethargy and sleepiness1. Lasting through the first trimester, the fatigue happens because the woman’s body produces more blood for the fetus4.

Other Symptoms of Pregnancy

While most women are familiar with the more common symptoms of a missed period and nausea, there are other common symptoms of pregnancy to consider. One of these is the occurrence of slight vaginal bleeding or spotting. Known as implantation bleeding, the fertilized egg still attaches itself to the uterine lining around two weeks after fertilization2. It is often brief, not as long as a normal period, and lighter in color2. It is important to seek medical advice if a pregnant woman is experiencing any form of vaginal spotting or bleeding in order to rule out sinister conditions such as miscarriage. Women also experience cramps like what they experience during normal periods. Another vaginal discharge in the early stages of pregnancy is known as the Goodell’s Sign or a thin, white, odorless discharge from the cervix3.

Additionally, one of the symptoms of pregnancy is a higher basal body temperature. During pregnancy, the basal body temperature, or the body’s temperature at complete rest, increases. It remains elevated all throughout because of progesterone4. Monitor whether your body’s temperature has constantly increased over a period of twenty days, especially if you have this symptom.

In the early stages of pregnancy, most women also develop an aversion to foods and drinks they used to enjoy. Having new food cravings is one of the symptoms of pregnancy. Sometimes, pregnant women may also describe having a metallic taste in their mouth5.

What to Do After

Now that the symptoms of pregnancy are there, taking a pregnancy test is the easiest way to confirm your pregnancy. However, a negative result is not foolproof. If you still think you are pregnant despite the negative result, you can try again after a week5. Once you are sure that you are pregnant, refer to a pregnancy due date calculator to find out when your baby is due5. Otherwise, it is best to consult the doctor based on the symptoms of pregnancy you have. After all, it is your general practitioner (GP) who is more knowledgeable. The GP will be able to determine if your symptoms are caused by other factors or if you are indeed pregnant.

Being pregnant is a major moment in a woman’s life. In 2019, there were 39,279 live births in Singapore6. After spotting the signs or symptoms of pregnancy, preparation and proper consultation is the next step in your pregnancy journey towards delivery.

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REFERENCES:

1. Symptoms of pregnancy: What happens first. (n.d.) Retrieved August 9, 2020 from:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/symptoms-of-pregnancy/art-20043853

2. Early Pregnancy Symptoms (2020). Retrieved August 9, 2020 from:
https://www.kidspot.com.au/birth/pregnancy/signs-and-symptoms/first-symptoms-of-pregnancy-what-happens-right-away/news-story/2683c7eed8bb3fe71f95599078bddea5

3. Early Signs of Pregnancy (n.d.) Retrieved August 9, 2020 from:
https://pregnancyparenting.org.au/pregnancy/early-signs-pregnancy

4. Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy Before a Missed Period (n.d.) Retrieved August 9, 2020 from:
https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/21-early-pregnancy-symptoms-before-missed-period/

5. Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy (n.d.) Retrieved August 9, 2020 from:
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/signs-and-symptoms-pregnancy/

6. Births and Fertility (n.d.) Retrieved August 10, 2020 from:
https://www.singstat.gov.sg/find-data/search-by-theme/population/births-and-fertility/latest-data