MamaDoctors’ Complete Guide to Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Tests

guide to early pregnancy symptoms
  • Save

As is widely known, the most reliable way to tell if a woman is pregnant is performing a pregnancy test. The next best thing is the missed period which occurs after conception.

Naturally, no one would perform pregnancy tests regularly, while waiting for their period.

Some early signs and symptoms might indicate you are pregnant before you miss out on your cycle, and prompt you to do a pregnancy test and confirm whether you are in fact pregnant.

  • Save
 

Pregnancy Symptoms Week 1 and Week 2

For most women, the exact time of conception is usually a mystery. As a convention, doctors set the time of conception to be the first day of your last period.

This, however, is about two weeks ahead of when conception actually happens. About two weeks after your period, one of your follicles erupts, releasing an egg.

The follicle then turns into a temporary gland, producing a hormone that helps prepare the wall of the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg.

The egg itself travels to the fallopian tube, waiting to be fertilized. This window lasts about 24 hours.

From here, it can go two ways. If there is no sperm around to fertilize the egg, it disintegrates, and the hormones go back to normal. The body sheds the lining of the uterus, and the period starts.

If, however, a sperm does make it up to the fallopian tube, we have the miracle of conception.

In some cases, you might release two eggs during ovulation; if this happens, and sperm is around, you might have a fraternal twin pregnancy, where two siblings grow in the uterus at the same time.

At the moment of fertilization, the egg changes so that no other sperm can get in, and the baby’s genes and sex are set. The egg cell starts quickly dividing and moving down the fallopian tube to implant itself into the wall of the uterus.

All these stages send waves of signals throughout the body, preparing it for the pregnancy. If you listen to your body carefully, you might spot some early signs that a pregnancy has begun, long before you would miss your period.

It is very difficult for most women to say when exactly the moment of conception occurred between the first day of the last menstrual cycle, and the first missed the period. The time of conception is calculated differently depending on which method you use.

Conventionally, gestational age is calculated based on the first day of your last period.

 

Pregnancy Symptoms Week 2 and Week 3

first weeks of pregnancy simptoms
  • Save

Before implantation, there is usually no specific symptoms you might recognize as pregnancy. Some women, however, do experience slight nausea and sometimes slight cramping or an uncomfortable feeling in the region of their ovaries (lower abdomen).

These symptoms do not actually indicate a pregnancy but can be considered a sort of foreshadowing, indicating that the uterus is properly preparing to receive the fertilized egg.

As the egg moves down the fallopian tube, it continues sending various signals to the body. As the corpus luteum (previously the follicle that released the egg) releases signals into the body, preparing the uterus for potential implantation, so does the fertilized egg, in a way notifying the uterus that potential implantation is near.

This stage can also exhibit some slight symptoms of cramping, with the addition of potential slight tenderness of the breasts – especially in first-time pregnancies – and bloating.

Keep in mind, however, that most women do not experience any symptoms before implantation, and when they do, they tend to explain them with other causes.

Pregnancy actually begins from the moment of implantation.

Once the egg is implanted, the body starts the cascade of events that lead to the massive changes during pregnancy. Some of these can be felt as early symptoms.

After successful implantation, the embryo is multiplying quickly and growing. Part of it is starting to form the plate of tissue that will become the placenta.

This part starts secreting the human chorionic gonadotropin, the hormone which is detected by most commercial pregnancy tests.

Amniotic fluid is also collecting around the embryo to protect it. Blood vessels are starting to grow thicker and more complex in the area where the placenta has attached to the wall of the uterus.

These changes can, and ultimately will cause some symptoms to occur.

 

Pregnancy Symptoms Week 3 and Week 4

During Week 3 and Week 4, you might actually interpret some signs as if your period was actually starting. Instead, they are very early signs of pregnancy.

 

These early symptoms include:

1) Slight Bleeding

Some percentage of women (up to 25%) experience slight bleeding, or so-called spotting, one to two days after implantation occurs.

This bleeding is usually much lighter than period blood, and, like its namesake, comes in spots. It can be mixed in with mucus as well, making it hard to notice at first. This can go on, or appear and disappear for another 12 weeks, and is usually not a reason to be concerned.

2) Muscle twitching, slight cramping

As the uterus prepares to accommodate the newcomer, the walls of the uterus, which are made from muscle tissue, will start to slightly twitch and contract.

This can sometimes be felt like a strange stringing or twitching sensation in the abdomen that you can’t really place. It may seem like the feeling you have when you are about to pass gas, but no gas is passed.

These symptoms can also intensify over the following few weeks, and even months.

3) Increase in mucus

As the uterine walls swell with blood vessels to support the growth of the placenta and the baby, the glands on the uterus also swell and increase in size.

This leads to increased mucus production, that can sometimes be noticed. This can occur simultaneously with spotting, and the mucus can appear slightly bloody.

If you notice slightly more mucus than usual, without any other specific symptom or smell, it might be an early sign of pregnancy.

Of course, keep in mind that mucus can be caused by many other reasons, including infections.

4) Cramping

cramping sore and fever during pregnancy
  • Save

As it can sometimes appear immediately after implantation, cramping is more common after week one and in the period up to delivery.

They can come and go, sometimes lasting for several minutes, sometimes for several hours. The intensity of the cramps can also vary, but they are usually light and not crippling.

5) Spotting

As with the above, although this symptom can rarely appear earlier, it is usually found immediately after implantation, after the first week of the pregnancy.

Assuming you have a regular cycle (28 days), implantation bleeding or spotting may be experienced in the third week (20 to 40 days).

Implantation bleeding is light – you might see just a few drops of blood in your underwear or when you wipe after peeing. This may last for a few hours to several days.

However, should heavy bleeding occur, it might just be your regular cycle (or a very early miscarriage that most likely will go undiagnosed).

If it is not your cycle, and you tested negative on a pregnancy test, it is advised you consult a doctor.

6) Your Body Temperature Increases

An increase in basal body temperature (BBT) is a more accurate early sign of pregnancy. However, this only works if you’ve been tracking your BBT for several months prior to the first skipped period.

A few weeks prior to ovulation, your basal body temperature will range from 97.2 to 97.7F, which is the average BBT in the pre-ovulation state.

Within two days after your ovulation, BBT will increase by 0.4 to 1F. After your period, BBT will decrease. If it remains elevated, however, it could be an early sign of pregnancy.

7) Breasts feel sore and heavy

Upon conception, breasts begin to get ready to do the job they naturally there for – namely, breastfeeding!

The blood vessels in your chest begin to dilate, resulting in larger breasts, and your areolas will also get bigger and darker. These changes can be observed within a week or two after conception.

As a result, your breasts may feel swollen, tingly, and sore to touch. You might feel discomfort similarly to when you are expecting your period, but it may be worse if a pregnancy is starting.

If you missed your period and you’re experiencing changes in your breasts and other symptoms, it’s time to take a pregnancy test.

8) Tender and swollen nipples

Same as with the breasts, the nipples start preparing for breastfeeding. The blood vessels in the nipples dilate making them appear a bit more swollen and more intense in color, as well as more tender and sensitive.

This symptom may start as early as week one after conception. If only one nipple is being tender and swollen, it might not be a symptom of pregnancy but something else.

But of both are beginning to swell and react to touch, it might be time to do a pregnancy test.

9) Fatigue

tiredness and fatigue might be signs of pregnancy
  • Save

Fatigue can be caused by a sudden increase in the hormone progesterone. This feeling of exhaustion doesn’t go away easily, as your body is starting to produce more blood to support the growth of the fetus.

If you suspect you’re pregnant, your tiredness may well be a telltale sign, although it can indicate something else, like anemia. Cover all your bases before you decide it’s pregnancy.

By the way, once you’ve determined that you are pregnant, you can take steps to fight pregnancy fatigue including drinking plenty of water, eating nutritious food, and taking prenatal vitamins daily.

10) Sudden drops in blood sugar

This can also sometimes be a cause of the fatigue, nausea, and vertigo that appear in pregnancy. As pregnancy changes the metabolic pathways of the soon-to-be mother, the blood sugar may react in an unpredictable way and go up or down wildly.

When experienced these drops in blood sugar can cause vertigo, cold sweats, loss of balance or even fainting. You should keep in mind to have something sweet lying around in case you need a pick-me-up.

If you are experiencing this symptom along with some of the other symptoms, confirm your suspicions with a pregnancy test.

If you are experiencing this symptom without any others or it persists for a while, you should consult your doctor, as you may need additional attention.

Gestational diabetes is a condition caused by metabolic changes in a mother’s body. It must be medicated, and in most cases, it stops after giving birth.

11) Sudden rises in blood sugar

As with the above, the opposite is also possible. As insulin accommodates for the metabolic changes, you can have a sudden lack of insulin in the bloodstream, leading to an increased level of blood sugar (which means lower utilization of sugar to generate energy).

This can lead to a sudden drop in energy and activity, sluggishness and general fatigue and loss of motivation.

As with the above, it can happen suddenly and without warning and go away just as quick.

If you have a history of sudden drops or raises in blood sugar, you might be even more susceptible when becoming pregnant.

More frequent episodes might be an early indicator and prompt you to get tested. If you test negative, as with the above, it might be good to pay a visit to the doctor.

12) Nausea

nausea sickness and early symptoms
  • Save

A classic sign of pregnancy in its early stages is nausea, commonly known as morning sickness. This might occur during the first weeks of your missed period.

Nausea may be felt any time of the day, but it is usually worse during early mornings. “Morning sickness” is experienced by a majority of women in the early stages of pregnancy.

However, if you have persistent nausea and/or vomiting throughout the entire day, you might be subject to a rare condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which is much more intense, and which requires medical help to be addressed.

It is not entirely clear what causes morning sickness or Hyperemesis Gravidarum, although it is believed that several factors could be triggering it.

An elevated level of the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) or genetic predisposition might play a role. Symptoms may include low blood pressure, weakness, dizziness, and throwing up often.

Nausea might subside after the first trimester, but at times this symptom may be present throughout your whole pregnancy.

Morning sickness can vary in its intensity and duration in different pregnancies of the same mother.

Lack of appetite can be attributed to nausea and vomiting. You may experience strong cravings and hunger pangs.

This is most apparent during the early stages of pregnancy, but you should regain your appetite in the later stages.

Keep an eye on your weight and if you start losing weight, talk to your doctor immediately. Try to prioritize getting enough fluids, as dehydration poses a serious risk to you and your baby.

You may attempt to increase your appetite by reducing stress during your pregnancy. The lavender essential oil may help in relieving common nausea, while lavender shortbread biscuits may also help reduce nausea and increase your appetite.

13) Frequent urination

Having a frequent urge to pee is a common early pregnancy symptom. You may notice that the urge to pee becomes more frequent, particularly at night.

This is because of the hormonal changes that occur after you conceive. As a result, there is an extra production of blood and the kidneys need to work harder to filter the extra blood – hence the increased instances of urination.

Normally, this symptom decreases during the second trimester, and becomes evident again during the third trimester of pregnancy, once your baby is big enough to push on your bladder.

14) You feel bloated and tighter

You may feel and look pregnant even while the fetus inside you is still tiny or just a ball of cells (blastocyst). You may notice that your tummy is getting bigger or your tights are getting tighter.

A bloated feeling or heaviness in the stomach is a common pregnancy symptom that you may feel even before your missed period.

Farts and burps may follow as a result of the progesterone hormone present during pregnancy, which affects your digestion.

You might get some relief by eating several small meals, instead of three large ones, throughout the day. You may also want to avoid fried and fatty foods.

15) Food Aversion

Around 85% of pregnant women experience this symptom, usually during their first trimester. You may notice that you are no longer enticed by your favorite food, and worse, its taste or smell may make you nauseous.

This symptom is probably caused by the increased level of progesterone during pregnancy. Other women regain their appetite within the second to third semester.

However, some women may experience food aversion throughout the duration of pregnancy.

16) Mood Swings

mood swings and hormonal change during pregnancy
  • Save

This is another symptom attributable to the hormonal changes that your body experiences during pregnancy.

The changes in hormone levels may influence the neurotransmitters of your brain, and this causes enhanced emotions.

Although it has been shown in research that this is an integral part in preparing the brain for motherhood, to help somehow reduce this symptom, try to relax and get proper rest.

You might find relief in meditation, mindfulness, or listening to relaxing and soothing sounds and music.

Get your partner’s support, let him or her know how you feel, and surround yourself with friends and family who can understand and help you.

17) Dizziness

Dizziness is a common pregnancy symptom experienced during the first trimester. This is caused by the dilation of your blood vessels, which results in a reduced blood pressure.

You won’t need to worry though, as this is necessary to create the additional blood your body requires during pregnancy; your blood pressure should go back to normal when you reach your second trimester.

Be careful, however, to watch out for other accompanying symptoms. If dizziness is accompanied by abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, immediately consult your attending physician, as this might be a sign of ectopic pregnancy.

18) Heartburn and constipation

Research shows that digestive function is affected by the increased progesterone levels during pregnancy.

The hormone causes your food to pass slowly in the digestive system making your stomach and bowel movements difficult. If you don’t commonly have digestion problems, it might be an early sign of pregnancy.

19) Headaches and backaches

Headaches may be felt during the early stages of pregnancy because the hormones estrogen and progesterone are preparing your womb for a baby. It may also be caused by low blood sugar levels during your pregnancy.

Lower back pains may also be apparent because your ligaments are loosening up in preparation for the weight that your body has to carry when your baby gets bigger.

Bloating, constipation and implantation cramping may all contribute to a backache that you may feel during the early stages of pregnancy.

20) Drooling

Though this is not a common pregnancy symptom, some women do experience drooling because of the excessive saliva that is produced before they conceive (ptyalism gravidarum).

The excessive production of saliva may be associated with morning sickness and heartburn.

The extra liquid that accumulates inside the mouth may be caused by the avoidance of women to swallow because of nausea.

Heartburn, which is due to increased acids, also results in increased saliva because it is an attempt by your body to physiologically cure the heartburn, as saliva is naturally alkaline.

21) A metallic taste in your mouth

This symptom may be felt alongside strong odor aversion. The exact cause of this symptom is unknown, but some experts and researchers say that this might be caused by the fluctuating hormonal levels during pregnancy.

Not all women may experience this symptom and those who do are usually relieved from this symptom after the first trimester.

22) Frequent thirst

thirst is a common pregnancy symptom
  • Save

This is a common pregnancy symptom. As your body produces more blood volume, to accommodate for the growing baby, you may find yourself drinking way more water than usual.

This can become a cycle as you may then need to pee more often, and then feel like thirsty again.

Of course, drinking a lot of water ultimately is a good thing, as it keeps both your baby and you hydrated.

23) Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath may be experienced in the first few weeks of pregnancy because your body now requires more oxygen and blood to share with your growing fetus.

This symptom may continue throughout the pregnancy, becoming more apparent with the growth of the baby as they require increasingly more oxygen and nutrients.

You may regulate your breath by maintaining an exercise routine, taking slow breaths, sitting in a proper and comfortable posture, etc.

The pregnancy symptoms listed above are not definitive signs that you are pregnant but are all possible indicators.

They’re also common signs and symptoms of other medical conditions that might require further investigation, so make sure you talk about them to your doctor if you are unsure.

Meanwhile, if you think that you are pregnant, you may start doing these as prenatal care:
Get enough rest, eat healthily, and drink often.

Stay away from unhealthy food and stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
The above lifestyle rules are helpful even if you’re trying to conceive because they will increase your chances to do so and to bring to term a healthy pregnancy when you do.

 

Pregnancy Symptoms Week 4 and Week 5

The simplest way of suspecting you are pregnant is to keep a close eye on your body and listen to it. In most cases, one or more of the symptoms listed above will appear.

Of course, many of them can be confused for the beginning of the menstrual cycle, or attributed to a mild malady like a cold, flu or stomach ache.

Missing your period is the top, most reliable sign of pregnancy.

So, around week four of pregnancy – especially if your cycles are usually on the dot – you have a very strong hint that a pregnancy may have started.

Research shows about 20% of women experience spotting or light bleeding which can easily be confused with menstruation.

Some women may experience what is called “fake menstruation”. Blood that looks like menstrual blood (different from spotting by being darker) and occurring in the time window that proper menstruation was supposed to occur.

There is no egg cell involved in this process though, and the bleeding usually lasts much shorter than a normal menstruation would.

The next step in this exciting journey is determining your pregnancy status once and for all, without further ado.

 

Home Pregnancy Test

history behind the pregnancy tests
  • Save

Nowadays, determining whether you are pregnant can be as easy as a short trip to the pharmacist (or grocery store in some cases), a pee and a 2-minute wait.

This was not always the case.

Up until the latter part of the 20th-century women had to rely on interpreting the early symptoms right, consulting a midwife or wise women, or some “mystical” methods passed down through generations.

The history behind the pregnancy tests is quite diverse, based on an NIH exhibition. The first historically recorded pregnancy test was used in Egypt, as early as 1350 BCE.

It consisted of a woman peeing on barley and wheat and waiting to see if they germinate. Although this sounds absurd, it had quite a good level of accuracy, up to 70%. 50 years ago, scientists confirmed this theory and postulated that it was most likely the increased level of estrogen that allowed the seeds to germinate more quickly.

In the medieval times, wise-women or midwives would interpret the physical signs and symptoms of pregnancy to make an “educated guess” of whether a woman was pregnant or not.

Some of the signs included a darkening of the nipples and vagina, the yellow marks on the skin, black line across the abdomen, swelling of the breasts and many others.

These methods, although wildly unreliable, did show a modest rate of success, since midwives would get enough practice and experience during their carriers.

After the Renaissance, many pseudo-scientific and magical ways existed for determining pregnancy, including strange concoctions using the blood or saliva of the suspected pregnant women, or crystals and pendulums above the abdomen.

It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that doctors’ picket the topic up more seriously and started evaluating the visible signs of pregnancy known in folklore (by the same old midwives from before) through the scientific method. This increased the rates of successful diagnosis to a degree.

It wasn’t until the twentieth century that the first lab-based pregnancy test was invented. Sadly, this test included the sacrifice of a common lab animal, a rabbit.

Rabbit females are very sensitive to the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

Since they have quick ovulatory cycles, the introduction of hCG causes the rabbits to ovulate very quickly.

The method consisted of injecting live female rabbits with a woman’s urine and seeing if they ovulate. The rabbit would then be killed and dissected to establish whether the ovaries are in ovulation.

Eventually, this test has deemed a waste of effort, since in most cases it’s just easier to see if you miss out on your period than to kill and dissect rabbits.

A similar test was also done with frogs since frogs spawn outside of their bodies. Frogs were injected with a woman’s urine and would be observed to see if they spawn their eggs.

With a few lab-based short-lived tests in the meanwhile, finally, in 1976 the first home-based pregnancy test was introduced.

It was called “Early Pregnancy Test” or EPT (later, for commercial purposes this was changed to error proof test). The solution consisted of a neat packet laboratory test involving sheep’s red blood cells. It cost around $10 ($33 in today’s value).

The marketing material stated that “you get pre-measured ingredients consisting of a vial of purified water, a test tube containing, among other things, sheep red blood cells…as well as a medicine dropper and clear plastic support for the test tube, with an angled mirror at the bottom.”

It took around 2 hours to see the results. But it was very confidently accurate, up to 97%.

All modern-day home pregnancy tests measure hCG, the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, and claim to be more than 99% accurate.

modern-day home pregnancy tests measure hCG
  • Save

With some tests, it is possible to detect pregnancy up to four days before missing your period; however, not all tests that are advertised this way offer the promised level of clinical sensitivity.

However, these figures are determined on the basis of laboratory testing carried out by laboratory technicians, under ideal conditions: the accuracy of the same test carried out by a woman like you and me in their bathroom may actually be much lower.

The instructions of home pregnancy tests are often difficult to carry out, let alone read the results, especially in a very emotional moment!

Newer digital tests, where results are displayed in words as “Pregnant” or “Not pregnant” are easier as they do not give rise to a wrong interpretation of the – often -faint lines of the test.

So, if you – like me – have spent time trying to decipher line-based pregnancy tests, and wondering if it was all in your head, know that studies show that one in four women have trouble reading these tests.

There are three main formats of home pregnancy tests: strip, cassette and midstream test sticks.

Strips require women to collect a urine sample and then dip the small device into it; cassettes also required to collect a sample, and then add a small quantity of urine to the cassette.

The midstream test stick format, in contrast, has an absorbent wick at one end, which can be placed in the urine stream without necessarily collecting a urine sample. Studies say that 95% of women prefer the midstream test stick format.

I have to disagree on this one, as I find peeing on a stick – especially in a very emotional moment – beyond my capacity!

When digital midstream tests are used, as opposed to the other kinds, women seem to have a better chance to accurately read the results.

Studies found that in 99% of cases, readings of a trained researcher agreed with that of the woman, in contrast with only 70% of tests done with cassette and strip test formats.

However, there might be other situations where you have false negative pregnancy tests.

There are several possible reasons for the wrong timing of pregnancy test:

  • You might not remember accurately when your last period started, therefore missing important information when deciding when to take a test
  • Even if you are sure of your last menstruation period, there can be a significant difference between cycles, as they have been observed to vary by more than 13 days in 30% of women
  • Sometimes, there can be a longer gap between ovulation and implantation, as this has been shown to vary up to six days in naturally conceived pregnancies

Can there be such thing as a false positive test result for home pregnancy tests?

It’s very unlikely to happen. If you have a positive result, you are almost certainly pregnant.

Cases of false positive results have been reported when devices have been tested on samples from peri- and post-menopausal women.

Other uncommon reasons for misleading results of home-based pregnancy tests include the use of fertility drugs containing hCG (such as Pregnyl®, Ovitrelle®, and Predalon®) which may give a false “Pregnant” result.

The presence of very rare malignancies (e.g. choriocarcinoma, ovarian neoplasm) can also create misleading results.

So, you might feel pregnant and yet have a negative test. What to do in these cases?

These are a few options:

  • Test again immediately, to confirm that it was not a false negative
  • Wait a day or two and take the test again
  • Go for an hCG blood test

hCG from the implanting fertilized egg first appears in maternal blood around 6-8 days following fertilization.

So, if you are unsure of the home pregnancy test results you are getting, and do not want to wait any longer, your best bet is to take a blood test, which can be almost 100% accurate even before you miss your period. However, it requires a visit to the doctor or a local private lab.

If you are using assistive reproductive technologies, this test will almost certainly be done regularly.

With the rich history of pregnancy testing, a new and innovative method has also been invented recently.

Lia is a really nifty pregnancy test that keeps information private while leaving no environmental trace.

It is made of the same natural plant fibers as most toilet paper and is tested to be 100% biodegradable, dispersing completely in water. It contains no plastic so it won’t wound up in a landfill somewhere like traditional pregnancy tests.

lia pregnancy test
  • Save

The product was developed by Lia Diagnostics, which according to TechCrunch, was founded in 2015 by Bethany Edwards and Anna Simpson.

Traditional pregnancy tests have a plastic component that lands in the trash and ultimately contribute to tons of plastic waste worldwide. These are items that we use once, but they last forever in landfills and plastic islands drifting in the oceans.

This new pregnancy test comes in the form of biodegradable paper that can be folded after use and flushed down the toilet, so it leaves no environmental footprint. The Lia pregnancy test is also compostable. You can read more on MeetLia.com.

The Lia works on the same principle as the traditional pregnancy test, with the same results, but with added benefits.

The paper test offers a larger test area so urine is sure to hit it. It reacts to urine to determine pregnancy and displays results as two lines if pregnant or one line if not.

Like the traditional test, it tests for high levels of hCG, the hormone produced by a fertilized egg when it attaches to the uterus.

The Lia detects small amounts of this hormone in urine with over 99% accuracy, according to the Lia website.

Once you have the result, you can safely discard the test and you don’t run the risk that some nosy parker will get your news through the trash.

As the Lia website states: “Leaving a pregnancy test in the trash means anyone, like your snoopy roommates or in-laws, can find it. That can be nerve-wracking. With Lia, you just flush and focus on what really matters – your result.”

Privacy – the big plus point

Sometimes a woman is simply not ready to discuss pregnancy test results, whatever they might be. It is a private and oftentimes very emotional matter that takes time to digest.

Pregnancy tests are used by women who are trying to get pregnant as well as those who are not planning for a baby. Thing is, if you are trying to get pregnant and the test result is negative, you might not want others to know, especially if it’s taking some time to fall pregnant.

On the other hand, if you were not planning to fall pregnant and the test result is positive, you may very well need time to get used to the idea before sharing your news (if at all).

With this flushable test, women don’t ever have to hide their test results in the trash again or go somewhere away from home or work to do the test.

Lia received FDA approval in December 2017 and is currently on track to be on the shelves and on Amazon this summer.

 

Pregnancy Symptoms – Week Five to Week Thirteen

signs of being pregnant
  • Save

Week four to six is when most women realize that they are pregnant.

Now you have missed your period and most likely have done a pregnancy test, you will be aware that you are pregnant.

If you have not experienced any of the symptoms listed above yet, chances are you will start experiencing them now.

This period is the period that most women refer to when they talk about the strongest symptoms experienced.

What is happening to your body?

All the changes so far are becoming more pronounced and intense. Breasts keep on swelling, blood vessels dilating, and fat being deposited beneath the breast glands.

The walls of the uterus are becoming more solid and thicker, and the muscle layer is starting to increase as well. Hormones are starting to have system-wide effects, affecting your whole body.

Blood sugar, insulin, blood pressure, all of them can start to go up and down, causing a commotion in your regulatory systems. Amniotic fluid is accumulating around the embryo, filling the amniotic sac up and the abdomen might start to budge a little.

The embryo will start developing more features now, and several important segments form in this period, including the nervous system, skeletal system, limbs, and eyes.

Most of the symptoms from the previous period can persist and repeat through this period as well.

24) Cramping

Cramping remains one of the main symptoms. As the uterus is changing itself, and the anatomy of the lower abdomen is slightly rearranged, muscles will cramp and contract.

Sometimes pains will come from “inside” the abdomen or be disseminated (you don’t really know where they come from).

As before week 4, they can last from a few seconds, up to a few hours in some more extreme cases. Some women report that cramping is related to their diet and figuring out which foods make them cramp up helps avoid these symptoms.

25) Your Body Temperature is still Increased

Your body temperature will continue to be higher than usual. Some women report their body temperature rising up to 100F and staying that high up until delivery.

This increase in body temperature actually comes from the increased blood flow and blood volume women get during pregnancy.

26) Glow

Another consequence of the increased blood flow and increased volume of blood is the so-called pregnant glow.

As blood flow and oxygenation to the skin increases, pregnant women get a certain healthy glow on their skin, indicating the skin is properly supplied with blood. This also leads to increased oil production in the skin, giving it a shine.

27) Chloasma, or the “mark of pregnancy,”

Because of the changing hormones and blood supply to the skin, sometimes a yellowish patch can appear on the face. This is usually nothing to worry about and it almost always goes away after delivery.

28) Linea nigra or “The black line”

Sometimes the hormonal changes will make a dark, almost black line appear across the abdomen. Like the yellow mark, this is nothing to be afraid of and will usually disappear after the delivery.

29) Extra Oily skin

The increased blood supply brings more nutrients and fats to the glands in the skin, allowing them to produce additional oil and secrete it on the skin. Some women, who have had dry skin up until that point get oily skin when pregnant.

30) Pimples, acne

hormonal changes can cause pimples
  • Save

The increase in oil production, coupled with hormonal changes can sometimes cause pimples to break out, or even acne.

They can appear anywhere on the body, not only the face. Woman are advised to start using skin cleansing preparations to reduce the oiliness of the skin until it goes back to normal.

31) Darkened nipples

Another visual symptom can also be the change in color of the nipples. They can darken and turn a more intense -purple or even brown color. This is due to the increased blood supply to the nipples.

32) Tender and swollen nipples

In addition to darkening, nipples will continue to be tender and slightly swollen, due to the same reason.

33) Breasts feel sore and heavy

The breast will, in this period, start to grow more noticeably. As fat and water accumulate in them, they will begin to be more and heavier and start to feel sore and painful.

Some women find that light breast massages help them alleviate this pain. Be careful though, as they will still be very tender.

34) Darkened outer genitalia

Due to increased blood flow as well as hormonal changes inducing an increased production of pigment, the outer parts of the genitalia may also darken.

35) Fatigue

Spells of fatigue will become more pronounced now. Most women will find it more difficult to do physical work as time passes.

As more and more blood is drawn to the placenta and to the growing baby, you will find that you will need more and more energy. Eating and hydrating properly can help ease this up a bit though.

36) Sudden drops and sudden rises in blood sugar

This symptom tends to be strongest in the first trimester. As time goes on and the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar stabilizers, it will become rarer and rarer.

37) Nausea

Nausea, or morning sickness, almost always intensifies until the end of the third trimester. It goes hand in hand with food aversion or loss of appetite.

Bouts of nausea can also come in waves after overrating. Women are advised to try and eat in smaller portions throughout the day to minimize the chances of nausea. Vitamin B6 can also help.

38) Episodes of overeating

Feeding a growing baby inside of you
  • Save

Feeding a growing baby inside of you is an energy hungry process. Mothers-to-be needing to eat a lot more then usually. This can be a problem though when nausea and food aversion kick in.

Sometimes, when nausea clears up, the body will go into “starvation mode” and try to get as many calories as possible. This leads to a big spike in appetite, that can, in turn, lead to overeating. If you are having this problem, then try and “force” down small portions during the day.

39) Frequent urination

As in the first few weeks, urination will be thrown a bit off balance by the hormonal changes. Also, the slow but steady increase in blood volume means more blood will be filtered through to make urine.

This goes hand in hand with increased thirsts. This symptom usually subsides after the first trimester, but it almost always returns in the last trimester when the baby and the amniotic sac start pressing down on the bladder.

40) You feel bloated and tighter

This symptom can be present from day one of the pregnancy, up until the very delivery. Some foods might make you more bloated than other foods.

This is very individual and will vary from mother to mother, as well as sometimes from pregnancy to pregnancy.

41) Food Aversion

Another symptom presents usually throughout the first trimester, it also sometimes persists until the end. It can be caused either by hormonal changes or metabolic changes or simply be a consequence of nausea or morning sickness.

42) Mood Swings

As your hormones continue to “rage” you will continue experiencing wild mood swings throughout the first trimester, and sometimes longer.

Intensity and triggers vary a lot. All the techniques used in the first few weeks will continue to be useful.

43) Dizziness

As in the first few weeks, this might remain a prominent symptom all until the end of the first trimester, while your body is adapting the blood vessels and blood pressure. Getting up too quickly, or eating irregularly can also cause slight vertigo.

44) Heartburn and constipation

This might continue up until the end of the first trimester. Sometimes it gets quieter until the end of the third trimester when the baby is large enough to cause pressure in the stomach.

Again, it’s heavily influenced by what you eat, so its recommended to eat enough fiber as well as eating small meals spaced throughout the day.

45) Headaches and backaches

This is also a symptom that can come and go during the pregnancy and be caused by many factors. Headaches usually accompany bouts of dizziness or drops in blood sugar.

Backaches are usually caused by the hormonal and muscle tissue changes around the uterus in the first trimester, then after, when the baby starts growing, they will be caused by the additional weight of both the amniotic sac and baby as well as the increased breasts.

46) Frequent thirst

Accompanying increased urination, and the steady increases in blood volume. It is very important to keep properly hydrated during the whole pregnancy so feel free to drink as much as you think you need.

47) Shortness of breath

This symptom should go down as the volume of blood increases. However, the babies need for oxygen also grows with time, so it might persist for a while until your body manages to make up for the increased demand.

If this symptom starts worsening with time, it could be something else entirely, and you should consult your doctor.

The symptoms listed above are a short overview of potential symptoms a soon to be a mother can expect to experience in the first trimester. Not everyone will experience all of them, nor will any woman experience them all at the same time.

how to manage pregnancy symptoms
  • Save

Some symptoms may exist that are not listed here. Of course, if any single symptom, no matter how innocent it might seem at first, starts making your real problems and affecting your normal functions, be sure to speak to your doctor. Many of the symptoms of pregnancy can be properly managed and regulated.

Can your symptoms vary, and what does this variation depend on? The short answer is – yes, of course – and for many reasons.

In some cases, symptoms will be more intense with twins, according to the NHS.

No official study has confirmed this, and doctors’ opinions vary. One logical assumption states that they would not necessarily be more intense but there is a chance they may start earlier.

If two embryos start producing hCG at the same time, it stands to reason that the necessary levels for triggering the changes in the body would be achieved more quickly. This also goes for triplets, quadruplets and up.

Most women report that they can recognize the early signs of pregnancy earlier with every pregnancy. However, some women say that the symptoms are easier the next time around, some say they get worse.

In some cases, the same symptoms will repeat in the same order, and in some cases, you might experience a whole new spectrum of symptoms you didn’t experience in your last pregnancy.

The best thing is not to focus on what the symptoms might mean, besides being pregnant.

 

How to Manage the Most Common Symptoms of Pregnancy

Morning sickness (also, nausea and vomiting)

  • Don’t use alcohol or tobacco and avoid smoke-filled rooms
  • Space your food out in several smaller meals throughout the day
  • Don’t fast for prolonged periods of time
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Stay away from spicy, fried, greasy, or strong-smelling foods.
  • Get up slowly after sitting or lying down.
  • Use odor masking room scents (choose natural ones over artificial as artificial scents may cause additional sickness)
  • If you are cooking in your household, avid cooking foods that have a strong smell. Alternatively, use the kitchen exhaust or crack a window open
  • Eat some peppermint candy, as this can ease the symptoms of heartburn and nausea
  • Don’t take any medicines not recommended by your doctor or pharmacist

Hemorrhoids and constipation

  • Eat plenty of fiber! Some 20 grams of fiber a day should be enough to help maintain a proper stool rhythm.
  • Stay properly hydrated
  • Use plan or moistened toilet paper, and avoid scented or colored paper
  • Sit on a soft chair or a doughnut-shaped pillow

Feeling tired

  • Take naps throughout the day, if you are having problems sleeping through the night
  • Reduce your fluid intake a few hours before going to bed, to avoid having to get up often during the night
  • Practice mild exercise, to keep the energy metabolism going
  • Take a slow, relaxing hot bath before going to bed
  • Stay away from caffeine and sugar, especially later in the evening
  • Take walks outside, to get some fresh air

Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

  • Try to sit instead of standing up for prolonged periods of time
  • Stand up slowly after lying down or sitting
  • Eat often and drink plenty of fluids.

Breast tenderness

  • Wear supportive bras with wide straps.
  • Wear a bra at night.
  • Massage your shoulders to ease the muscle tension
  • Sleep or lie with supportive pillows to help ease the pressure

Increased vaginal discharge (Whitish or clear and odorless)

  • Wash as usual, do not use any special chemical or wash, except maybe chamomile
  • Don’t use tampons, and avoid douching
  • Keep underwear clean and dry, use daily pads if necessary
 

In Summary

Early symptoms of pregnancy can be a good indicator if you experience them before your actual missed period.

You can’t really rely on them though since they are easy to miss, confuse with something else or misinterpret. The most efficient way to know if you’re pregnant is doing a home-based test.

If the test is negative, and you are experiencing symptoms of pregnancy, wait for a few days before doing the test again, or schedule a blood test with your doctor or a local lab.

The best thing is to behave as though you were pregnant in the meanwhile. Practicing a healthy and wholesome lifestyle is good for you no matter whether you are pregnant or not.

Symptoms may come and go, vary in intensity and duration, and can’t be reliable for determining whether you are carrying twins or anything beyond simply being pregnant.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to take care of yourself and your newcomer. Pregnancy and the act of giving birth can be considered as some of the most physically stressful periods a woman goes through.

But the rewards are definitely worth it.

  • Save

Written by Dr. Linnea Passaler

A surgeon and mom of a three, all currently under the age of five, Dr. Linnea is MamaDoctor's founder. She believes healthy virtual spaces where people can share their honest concerns and get help from knowledgeable, trustworthy sources, change lives for the better. She is an advocate for maternal mental health and wellbeing.