When you are planning to conceive, you will be on high alert for any slight symptom of pregnancy that your body might show. You must have probably heard of many possible symptoms from your friends or family members, who have been pregnant before. And of course, there are many well-meaning people who never fail to give unsolicited advice about pregnancy symptoms you should watch out for.
With so much information fed to you, it becomes baffling to decide which is a fact and which is a myth. The fact is that there are many symptoms of pregnancy and you will not experience all of the symptoms. Every woman might experience different symptoms in each of her pregnancy.
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When do pregnancy symptoms start?
As mentioned earlier, every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different for the same woman. Some women might notice symptoms of pregnancy within a week or two after conception, some women notice the symptoms 4-5 weeks after conception, and some women notice it only when their periods are missed.
If you have regular periods and the number of days in your menstrual cycle is predictable, then you can suspect a pregnancy, on experiencing any symptoms of it. However, if your periods are irregular or if the duration of your menstrual cycle is unpredictable, then the symptoms need not always point to a pregnancy and can be due to many factors like hormonal variations, PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) etc.
So ladies, no matter how many symptoms of pregnancy you have exhibited, it is best to rely on a pregnancy test for genuine confirmation.
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Earliest symptoms of pregnancy
However, it is still worthwhile to know and understand what the typical early symptoms of pregnancy which begin within a week or two after conception are:
#1. Sore breasts
Sore breasts and nipples are one of the earliest pregnancy signs that women experience. Though soreness in breasts is a symptom of PMS(Premenstrual Syndrome), it tends to go away when you are closer to start of the period. Soreness caused by pregnancy increases as you progress further in your pregnancy.
This symptom is caused by the increased levels of the progesterone and estrogen hormones in the body, which causes increased blood flow to the breasts. As hormone levels increase in your pregnancy, the soreness will increase further.
#2. Darkening areolas
During early pregnancy, the area around your nipple called as areolas, tend to appear larger and darker. This can happen as early as 1-2 weeks after conception due to the surging of the pregnancy hormone hCG – Human Chorionic Gonadotropin.
The darkening of the areolas may continue throughout the pregnancy and sometimes it is permanent.
Cramping is a sign of a period on its way as well as an early symptom of pregnancy. Even though the cramping seems similar, they are caused by different things before periods and during pregnancy.
The cramps during early pregnancy are caused by increased blood flow to the uterus and the cramps before periods are due to increase in the hormone prostaglandin.
The typical pregnancy cramping will be mild and symmetrical and generally in the center above the pubic bone.
However, if the cramping is severe accompanied by bleeding or if the cramping is only on one side, consult your gynecologist immediately.
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Light pink or brown spotting can occur 6-12 days after conception. This happens due to mild irritation caused when the fertilized egg burrows into the lining of the uterus. This is also known as implantation bleeding.
Sometimes spotting can occur during ovulation also. So, it is better to get your pregnancy confirmed by a pregnancy test.
#5. Frequent urination
If you have the urge to urinate frequently, it could be a sure sign of pregnancy. This symptom usually kicks in 2-3 weeks after conception. The reason for frequent urination is the increasing hCG hormone levels after the fertilized egg is implanted.
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Constipation can also be a possible early sign of pregnancy. Due to the increased progesterone levels, smooth muscle tissues of the intestines get relaxed. This results in slower movement of food in the intestines and hence bowel movements are also slowed, resulting in constipation.
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Other symptoms of pregnancy
Till now, we discussed early signs of pregnancy which occurs between 1-3 weeks after conception. There are other symptoms which develop between 4-6 weeks of pregnancy. Let us understand more about such symptoms.
#1. Fatigue or frequent feeling of tiredness
Many women experience severe fatigue at the beginning of pregnancy. As the pregnancy hormones surge after the implantation and also your body puts major effort to nurture the baby, you might experience extreme fatigue.
Usually, fatigue will continue until the end of the first trimester and may reduce in the beginning of the second trimester.
#2. Food Cravings
Food cravings are very common in pregnant women, especially in the first trimester. Though doctors are not sure about what causes the cravings, many believe that it is the body’s way of telling you what it needs.
It is advisable to give in to your cravings but try to avoid consuming too many empty calories.
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#3. Aversions for certain foods
Food aversions or distaste to certain foods are common among pregnant women. You might develop these aversions much before you know that you are pregnant.
Though, no research has identified the cause of food aversions, it is believed to be an evolutionary warning alarm that rings when it sees a potentially harmful food.
#4. Morning sickness/Nausea
Morning sickness/Nausea usually starts after 3 weeks of conception. Unlike its name, morning sickness can pop up at any time of the day. There is a wide belief that the increasing hCG hormone is responsible for nausea and vomiting. This is the most common pregnancy symptom and usually subsides by the end of the first trimester. However, it might continue until the last trimester for many women.
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#5. Missed period
A missed period is the ultimate symptom of pregnancy if your menstrual cycles are regular. However, if your cycles are irregular it is better to confirm your pregnancy through a test. If you have conceived and the fertilized egg has implanted in your uterus, the uterine lining would not be shed but instead the thickness increases. Hence, you would obviously miss your periods.
Also, the hormones prevent further release of eggs from the ovary to ensure that the menstrual cycle is not initiated until the end of the pregnancy. However, if you have not conceived, the unfertilized egg doesn’t get implanted in the uterus and the uterine lining is shed, which is known as menstrual periods.
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As you have read till now, there are many symptoms of pregnancy which occur immediately after conception and some few weeks after conception. Many of the symptoms like nausea and vomiting can occur due to stomach infections, symptoms like fatigue and food cravings can occur due to nutritional deficiencies, symptoms of the missed period might occur due to hormonal imbalances etc.
It is always the best to take a pregnancy test to confirm that you are in the family way. If you think that you could be pregnant and notice any abnormal symptoms like severe cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea or severe bleeding, call your doctor right away.
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