A quick reference guide to pregnancy symptoms…

Could I be pregnant? Skipped a period? Morning sickness? Is it pregnancy or the flu? Below we will discuss common pregnancy symptoms to help you determine if you might be expecting.

Common pregnancy symptoms

Every female in her childbearing years has experienced least one of the common pregnancy symptoms at one point or another, maybe even to the point where it was a full-blown pregnancy scare. Many of the most common pregnancy symptoms are similar to other illnesses so it’s not always easy to do a self-diagnosis. Of course the best way to determine if you are legitimately expecting a child is to see a physician, but why run to the doctor unless you are fairly certain you are, in fact, with child. We will discuss the commonplace pregnancy symptoms to help you determine if you should in fact schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN.

Early Warning Signs

On the average you will not start experiencing symptoms until about the 4th week when you may notice your first missed period and/or may experience mild cramping along with slight spotting. You might experience a nauseous sensation early on, but morning sickness generally does not occur till about the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy. Again, these symptoms may be indicative of a variety of ailments so you also need to be aware of other triggers that might indicate that you are expecting.

Listed below are 16 of the most common pregnancy symptoms:

  1. Tender or swollen breasts: If you are experiencing tenderness and swelling of your breasts; darkening of the areolas; and noticing pronounced veins in your chest this could in fact be a warning sign.
  1. Nausea and/or Vomiting: Morning sickness, contrary to the popular belief, can actually strike at any time, day or night, and can occur as early as three weeks following conception. The cause of morning sickness isn’t clear, but most doctors believe it is a result of pregnancy hormones. Some pregnant woman may notice that certain scents that have never bothered them previously will trigger nausea during pregnancy.
  1. Frequent Urination: When you are pregnant your body produces extra fluids thus causing your bladder to work double-times. You may find yourself running to the restroom with increased urgency and frequency.
  1. Headaches and Backaches: Headaches result from your hormones, which are changing now that you are expecting. Backaches occur during pregnancy as your ligaments are loosening. Remember that if you suspect that you may be pregnant you will want to avoid taking ibuprofen and instead take acetaminophen.
  1. Fatigue: If you suddenly find yourself exhausted from even simple tasks, it may be due to the increase in the levels of progesterone. For most women, the general feeling of fatigue only lasts throughout the first trimester and diminishes in the second.
  1. Mood Swings: Mood swings are common during pregnancy as your body is overwhelmed with hormonal changes which may make you overly emotional, irritable, and often weepy.
  1. Dizziness and/or fainting: When you are pregnant, your blood vessels will dilate, which may leave you feeling light-headed. You may also experience low blood sugar and low blood pressure which can also make you dizzy. It is crucial that you make sure you are eating properly and staying hydrated during your entire pregnancy.
  1. Shortness of Breath: Do you suddenly find yourself getting winded climbing the stairs? Your baby needs oxygen, which may leave you feeling a little breathless at times. This will continue throughout the full pregnancy, even more so as your baby starts to put pressure on your diaphragm and lungs.
  1. Food aversions and/or cravings: During your pregnancy you might find yourself avoiding certain foods that you normally love. On the same note, you may experience odd cravings. Both of these pregnancy symptoms are due to increased hormonal levels.
  1. Bloating and Constipation: Increased hormonal levels can cause bloating and constipation. Progesterone will cause food to pass through your intestines slower than usual when you are pregnant. Drinking lots of water, exercising and eating high fiber foods will help ease these symptoms.
  1. Cramping: Since cramps are associated with PMS, they can be easily overlooked as an early pregnancy symptom. But be forewarned, cramps can also result from your uterus stretching out to make more room for your baby.
  1. Spotting: Implantation bleeding may occur anywhere from six to twelve days after fertilization occurs when the egg attaches itself to the uterus lining. This might cause you to think you have your period as it may be the same duration as your usual menstrual cycle. Spotting is generally much lighter than regular menstrual bleeding.
  1. Discharge: Some women may experience a white, milky discharge from their vagina which is due to the thickening of the vaginal walls, which occurs immediately after conception. This can continue well into your pregnancy, but if it is accompanied by burning, itching and a strong odor, you might want to get checked for a yeast infection, which are also common during pregnancy.
  2. Missed Period: Skipped or late periods are the most common indicator of pregnancy. And while they are a very good warning sign, a missed period does not always mean that you are pregnant. Factors such as change in diet, stress and hormonal issues can also cause missed periods.
  3. Hemorrhoids: Unfortunately, hemorrhoids are also relatively common during pregnancy. They usually occur in the second or third trimester and are caused by pressure from the uterus as well as increased blood flow to the pelvic area. They can be easily treated and even prevented by sleeping on your side as opposed to your back, warm baths and simply by staying active.
  4. Elevated Basal Body Temperature: If you have been trying to conceive you have probably keeping track of your basal body temperature for some time. Women keep track of their BBT to know when they are ovulating. If your BBT stays elevated for over two weeks, it could be a pregnancy symptom.

Remember the above are just some of the most common pregnancy symptoms. You may experience some or all of the above. There are other symptoms you may experience, but they above are indeed the most universally common symptoms of pregnancy. If you suspect you may be pregnant, you may take an over-the-counter pregnancy test but again, the most accurate way to determine if you are truly pregnant is to see your OB/Gyn!