A woman who is pregnant will see certain things happening to her that are sure signs that pregnancy has taken place. However, along with these signs are symptoms that she may experience in her body that are often an accompaniment with pregnancy. These symptoms occur as a result of increased hormone levels at this time. Symptoms vary from one pregnant woman to another and not all women will experience them or at all.
Nausea and Vomiting…
A fairly common symptom of pregnancy is feeling sick in the stomach to the extent that vomiting takes place. This is referred to as morning sickness. Between 50% and 90% of women feel nauseous and wanting to vomit (morning sickness) in the first trimester of pregnancy. Morning sickness does not occur only in the morning as may be suggested by the term. The condition may be felt at any time of the day. Some women start to feel a bit queasy in the stomach from as early as two weeks into their pregnancy. The problem becomes full-blown at around 6 weeks. Nausea and vomiting can become so severe that it can impair your health and that of your developing child. The problem can lead to loss of fluid and important nutrients and dehydration. If you are sick to this extent, you may have what is called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a serious condition that should get immediate treatment by a doctor.
Fatigue (Feeling Tired)
From early in the pregnancy a woman will feel tired in some cases to the point of exhaustion. Tiredness and fatigue is considered to be the actions of increased levels of the hormone progesterone necessary to support the development of the baby. A woman will feel fatigue also because of the many changes taking place in the body at this time, and it working overtime to adjust and provide a supporting environment for the baby. Your metabolic rate is slowed at this stage and therefore your energy levels will be reduced causing tiredness. Anemia, particularly the type associated with iron deficiency is sometimes the cause of fatigue. Anemia occurs when the amount of red blood cells becomes low and enough oxygen and minerals like iron is not reaching the cells for energy. Your doctor will determine if you are low in iron by a simple blood test.
Pregnant women often get heartburn or an existing problem is made worse at this time. This condition starts when food settles in the stomach for longer and becomes acidic, causing the burning sensation of heartburn. The enlarged pregnant uterus also pushes up the stomach causing acids to flow back into the esophagus (tube leading to the stomach), giving rise to the burning discomforts that can be felt in the breast bone.
Having difficulty passing your stool is normal during pregnancy. This will start from early because of the action of hormones that slows your metabolic rate in which food is not being absorbed in your body as quickly. In this case the muscle contractions that would normally push food through the system fast are not strong enough. In later stages of the pregnancy the problem could get worse because of the pressure of the uterus on the rectum. You can relieve this problem by eating smaller amounts of foods at each meal, taking in more fluids, including more fiber in meals, and increasing physical activities such as gentle regular exercise.
As soon as the fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus (conception), the body begins to produce the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone automatically causes a greater flow in the amount of urine that is produced. More hCG hormone that is released in the urine causes your bladder to feel full faster; hence the frequent trips to the bathroom. In addition, as the uterus grows it puts more pressure on the bladder making you feel like wanting to urinate.
Skin Break Outs
Your normal skin condition can change during the early stage of pregnancy. Freckles, moles and other dark areas on the body generally become darker. These will return to their natural pigmentation after the baby is born. About 50% – 70% of pregnant women will develop chloasma, a condition where blotchy patches of dark skin appear on the cheeks, upper lip, forehead and chin. These blotches form a pattern that looks like a mask and that is why it is also called the “mask of pregnancy”. Chloasma is caused from the production of the skin pigment melanin which really helps to protect you from ultra-violet light. The patches will get darker therefore when you are in the sun.
Shortness of Breath
Breathlessness is a symptom that is felt from the first trimester of pregnancy. The pregnancy hormone progesterone helps your body to accommodate the baby. In this instance it increases the capacity of the lungs to take in more oxygen for you and child and to expel the gas carbon dioxide that you both use. You breathe more deeply therefore as you fill more space in your lungs, making you feel short of breath when you do so. The problem will intensify as the baby gets bigger and the growing uterus pushes against the lungs, making breathing more strenuous.
An increase in vaginal discharge from early in the pregnancy is a common problem for women. Before pregnancy, women would experience a milky discharge with just a slight odor. In pregnancy the discharge will occur in greater amounts due to the increase in estrogen and a greater flow of blood to the vaginal area. While you may find the discharge discomforting, it is a normal occurrence which is the shedding of old cells from the walls of the vagina, secretions coming from the vagina and cervix, and vaginal bacteria.
Early in the pregnancy the cervix starts to secrete a large amount of fluid that plugs the cervical canal (the Mucus Plug), giving support to the integrity of the uterus. As the cervix dilates and the lining thins out, fluid will escape and pass out through the vagina. You, however should be concerned if the discharge is watery and flowing in great amounts, is mucous-like and tinged with blood. This could be a sign of a miscarriage. Consult your doctor at once.
Consult your doctor also if the discharge has a high odor, is white, greenish, yellow or grayish in color, and is causing you discomforts such as pain when urinating, itching, burning and soreness. These may be symptoms of a vaginal infection such as trichomoniasis, chlamydia, yeast, or bacterial vaginosis.
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to find that they feel “down”, sad, or even depressed from early, sometimes feeling to cry and being emotional. Some women experience extreme happiness during this time. This sort of state is considered to be as a result of the pregnancy hormones that affect the normal state of chemicals in the brain. One in ten pregnant women becomes depressed. If you seem not to be able to shake yourself from feeling “down” or depressed, seek the attention of your doctor immediately. Depression can be treated to give you a more satisfying pregnancy.