A menstrual cycle that doesn’t appear when it should is usually the first indicator you might be pregnant. Stress and other factors can certainly interrupt your normal cycle. If your periods are generally regular and predictable, a late period is a big sign.
Enhanced Sense of Smell
Increased sensitivity to odors can also be indicative of pregnancy. As pregnancy progresses hormones become different from what you’re used to. Estrogen, in particular, can cause certain smells to become incredibly intense or repulsive. Everything from someone else’s meal across the restaurant to your own perfume may suddenly make you gag.
Dizziness or Fainting
If you are pregnant, that means you aren’t just eating for you anymore. The extra energy you are expending and the change in all your hormones can lower your blood sugar and blood pressure. Feeling dizzy -- even passing out -- is not necessarily uncommon, but it also should not become a regular occurrence. Make sure you are eating well and staying hydrated.
Spotting can be mistaken for a period, but it has a couple of distinct differences. If what you assume to be menstrual blood is much lighter than normal and a few days earlier than usual, it could actually be a side effect of the sperm’s implantation. When the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, it can sometimes cause a small amount of blood to be shed. Thus, spotting.
Pregnancy causes your levels of the hormone progesterone to drastically rise, which can lead to excessive sleepiness. Fatigue tends to be worse during the first trimester (some women even experience a burst of energy at the end of pregnancy when it’s time to really start “nesting”). If you’re battling exhaustion, take naps when you can and remember to take it easy on yourself -- and the caffeine.
Nausea or Vomiting
“Morning sickness” affects more than half of new moms, generally starting around six weeks into pregnancy and going away in the second trimester. Unfortunately, some women experience ongoing nausea as early as three weeks along, and a few find it continues into the third trimester. If you have trouble keeping food down and it turns out you are pregnant, talk to your obstetrician about an antiemetic.
Frequent urination is probably one of the most obnoxious symptoms of being pregnant. Pregnancy makes your body to produce extra fluids, which is combined with the new weight sitting on your bladder. You might find yourself going more frequently during the day and unable to make it through the night.
Headaches can be caused by a number of things, but the changing hormones of pregnancy can bring on a major pain in the head. If you suspect you might be pregnant, make sure to take pregnancy-safe acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen to help with the pain. Of course, if you are stressed out about the prospect, your headaches could also be related to tension.
The ligaments of your body begin loosening as pregnancy progresses, making it easier for your hips and pelvis to spread during delivery. Back pain tends to continue into later stages of pregnancy, since your weight, center of gravity, and posture will all be changing.
Because cramping is also a common symptom of PMS, it can be hard to tell if it means something more than an impending period. During early pregnancy, your uterus starts stretching to get ready for the fetus, which can cause uncomfortable cramping. Abdominal pain can also be a sign of miscarriage, so pay attention to other signs from your body.
Shortness of Breath
Because a growing fetus needs oxygen, you may find yourself a little winded, even from simple tasks such as walking up a flight of stairs. This is a symptom that will likely persist throughout your pregnancy as well, as the developing baby begins to put pressure on your lungs and diaphragm.
Sore or Swollen Breasts
This is a very common early sign of pregnancy since sudden hormonal changes can cause your breasts to feel very tender and sensitive. Your breasts may begin to feel fuller and heavier as well. Pregnancy will induce the glands in your breasts that produce milk to start working; eventually, you may notice a little bit of leakage as your body prepares for breastfeeding.
Food Cravings or Aversions
Pickles and ice cream may be a little extreme, but cravings are no joke. Hormonal changes can make you the victim of strange and intense cravings for certain foods. On the other hand, combined with an enhanced sense of smell, things you generally love may be overwhelmingly revolting.
Constipation or Bloating
Progesterone, the same hormone that makes you feel sleepy, can also slow your digestive system. This can cause constipation and bloating. If you don’t generally experience digestive issues and haven’t been overindulging in cheese, make a note of other signs you’re experiencing. On the other hand, many women face bloating as a result of PMS.
As your body is adjusting to the new levels of hormones, you might find yourself completely overreacting about small issues that wouldn’t normally bother you. Small issues can result in explosions of rage or uncontrollable bouts of tears. Combined with fatigue and poor sleep from getting up all night to pee and the anxiety of the unknown, you may find you don’t handle emotions like normal.
Strange Vaginal Discharge
Being a woman, we’re sure you’re no stranger to the normal vaginal discharge that’s not associated with pregnancy. However, most pregnant women’s discharge will change to a sticky, white, or pale-yellow mucus early on in the first trimester and continue throughout the pregnancy.
Elevated Body Temp
The morning after you ovulate, your body temperature will usually become elevated and stays that way until your next period. However, if that temperature (a.k.a. basal body temp) stays elevated for more than two weeks, it may be a sign of pregnancy.
Your hormones. They control all that happens in your body. Especially the changes that take place during pregnancy. One of those changes is the valve between the esophagus and the stomach becoming relaxed during pregnancy. This can cause stomach acid to leak into the esophagus causing heartburn.
Changes in Taste
Another early sign of pregnancy is that your taste buds can change. An increase in both estrogen and progesterone can cause this. As a matter of fact, some pregnant women may develop a condition called dysgeusia that causes them to taste metal, giving them the feeling that they’re sucking on some pennies.
While pregnant, you may become more prone to contracting a cold and/or the flu. This is because your immune system changes during pregnancy so that it can protect both you and the baby from infection. Some parts of the immune system become enhanced while others may be suppressed in order to be able to work harder while supporting both of you.
Overcome Your Sense of Smell
There are some ways you can fight back against those gag-inducing smells. One way is to cook and/or eat smarter, avoiding those foods that can trigger you. Another is to surround yourself with soothing and healing smells such as mint, lemon, ginger, and cinnamon; all of which usually sooth nausea.
Growing another human can be exhausting! Fortunately, there are a few ways you can try to overcome fatigue. Spend at least eight hours in bed with at least seven hours of sleep, keeping your bedroom dark, clean and cold. Taking a nap at least once per day can help, as well as eating healthy meals, staying hydrated, avoiding caffeine after lunchtime, pampering yourself, and exercising daily for a more restful sleep.
Soothe Your Nausea
If you’re frequently battling nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy, it may help to change your eating habits and schedule until things calm down. For nausea in the morning, try eating toast, cereal, or other dry foods before getting out of bed. Also, you can eat cheese, meat or other high-protein snacks before bedtime, and sip fluids like clear fruit juices, water, or ice chips throughout the day.
Banish Those Headaches
Instead of trying to fight a full-on headache, try instead to prevent them from happening by taking these steps: avoid certain foods or odors that have triggered a headache in the past, find healthy ways to cope with stressors, practice relaxation techniques, follow a regular sleep schedule, and eat regularly.
Beat Back Pain Back
Since back pain will likely progress along with your pregnancy, we have a few tips to help ease or prevent the worst of it. One way to help ease pain is to practice good posture when both sitting and standing to avoid straining the muscles in your back. Make sure to wear low-heeled—not flat—shoes and when you lift (small objects, of course) be sure to lift with your legs and not your back.
Breast Soreness Blues
Some of the best ways to ease breast tenderness during pregnancy involve hot or cold therapies. Try using an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) on your breasts. If the cold doesn’t seem to soothe your pain, try taking a warm shower so that the heat from the water helps to relax surrounding muscles and ease tension.
Control Your Cramps
As we discussed earlier, minor cramping during early pregnancy can be normal. There are a few things you can try to ease the cramps and some of them are even pleasant. For instance, to combat cramps try sitting in a warm bath and/or lying down for a bit. In addition, you can try to do some relaxation exercises or laying a hot water bottle on the site of the ache.
Coping with Cravings
Eating a well-balanced diet and eating regularly will avoid drops in blood sugar that could trigger cravings can help you to beat those cravings back. Also, try focusing on lower calorie foods like sorbet instead of Death by Chocolate ice cream or create other healthy alternatives for those higher calorie food cravings.
Lessen Bloating and/or Constipation
Unfortunately, bloating and constipation can only get worse during pregnancy as your baby grows and presses on your intestines and other organs. Some ways to reduce bloating and/or constipation are to drink plenty of water to help things keep moving through the digestive system and add more fiber to your diet—but be careful not to add too much since fiber can cause gas, too.
Break Those Mood Swings
Just knowing that mood swings are a natural part of pregnancy and that you’re not alone can help you cope with the ups and downs. Also, try to get plenty of sleep, take breaks throughout the day to relax, and get regular exercise—physician approved of course—to manage your stress level, which can be a trigger for mood swings.