The symptoms of pregnancy and symptoms severity can vary in every individual. Usually, nausea is regarded as an early sign of pregnancy. Even the same woman can experience different symptoms in subsequent pregnancies compared with her first pregnancy. So every pregnancy is different.
To confirm pregnancy one must get hints from early signs like- an absence of menstruation and weight gain, which are common to all pregnancies.
Other commonly reported early signs and symptoms may include a few or all of these- mood swings, increased urination, headaches, low backache and/or pain, sore breasts, darkened areolas, tiredness, nausea or morning sickness, implantation bleeding etc.
The late pregnancy symptoms may include a few or all of these- Leg swelling, Backache, Heartburn, Leakage of urine, Shortness of breath , etc.
Some women may also experience Braxton-Hicks contractions in the later period of pregnancy. These non-worrisome non-labor contractions of the uterus do not increase in intensity and are irregular.
How early can you recognize the symptoms of pregnancy?
The most important early sign of pregnancy is a missed menstrual period. Apart from this, some women may experience other signs and symptoms earliest within the first weeks of pregnancy.
Nevertheless, Premenstrual syndrome can mimic the early symptoms of pregnancy, so very early recognition of other symptoms than missed menstrual period is not very reliable.
Does every woman experience the same symptoms during pregnancy?
Every woman experiences a different set of symptoms during pregnancy. In fact, every pregnancy is different. The symptoms experienced during first childbirth may be different during the second or third in the same women.
Even the quality or severity of these symptoms are different. The recognition of first signs and symptoms of pregnancy also varies with individuals. Some may experience the worst symptoms in the initial days, while others may carry a smooth journey till partum.
Are these signs and symptoms enough to confirm pregnancy?
No! These are common symptoms that may overlap with various other conditions. Firstly missed menstrual period is an early indicator, followed by urine and blood hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) test, which is the characteristic diagnostic test for pregnancy. After waiting for few weeks, your gynecologist is likely to advise you to go for Ultra Sonography (USG) to check the status of the embryo.
Most important Early pregnancy signs and symptoms
- Missed Menstrual period: it is the hallmark symptom of pregnancy. Apart, some women may also experience mild cramping and spotting, occurring at the time of implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus.
- Implantation bleeding/spotting or cramping: Implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus may cause mild bleeding or spotting between 6 to 12 days after fertilization in some women.
- Thick Vaginal discharge: A thick, milky discharge from the vagina may indicate early pregnancy. It is mostly observed in the first weeks of pregnancy as the vaginal walls thicken and can continue throughout the pregnancy.
- If this discharge is associated with an unpleasant odor or with burning and itching, it indicated yeast or bacterial infection, and your gynecologist will help you through this.
- Breast changes: This can start occurring earliest from the first weeks of pregnancy. One can experience it as soreness, tenderness, heaviness, fullness, or a tingling sensation over the breast that tends to decreases after several weeks.
- Darkening of the areola
- Feeling tired: It may be experienced by some or not by others. The appearance of Fatigue may be multifactorial.
- Morning sickness, i.e., nausea and vomiting: Most the women experience nausea and vommiting between the 2nd and 8th weeks of pregnancy, which may subside around the 13th or 14th week. Some may even experience it beyond the 14th week, while others may not experience it at all.
- Intolerance to specific smells: it is also one of the usually reported symptoms of early pregnancy, which may continue until late. Some may feel nauseous to smell of egg or oil etc.
- Frequent urination: In around the 6th to 8th week, some women experience frequent urination due to hormonal changes. Others may not experience it at all. However, any burning or change in color indicated urinary tract infection.
- Dizziness/ Lightheadedness/ Headaches
- Constipation: most women experience this at least once during their pregnancy.
- Liking/ disliking for food- Again, this is reported among the vast majority of pregnant women to develop a liking for certain and disliking for certain food during their pregnancy.
- Back pain: Low back pain can occur in the early days of pregnancy which may continue late.
- Mood swings- May be experienced due to hormonal changes
Late symptoms and signs of pregnancy
Late pregnancy may see a continuation of specific , early pregnancy symptoms, the occurrence of certain new ones, or the disappearance of some early symptoms.
Mood changes, headaches, increased urination, backache, food cravings, fatigue are likely to continue to the later stages of the pregnancy as well. While specific symptoms like the tenderness of breasts and nausea tend to improve as pregnancy advances. Shortness of breath due to increased oxygen demand may rise during late pregnancy.
Symptoms of late Pregnancy-
- Weight gain: A weight gain of 7-12 kgs is mostly observed during pregnancy. The growing fetus, placenta, breast enlargement, and increased blood and fluid volume add up to the weight of the mother.
- Changes in Breast changes: The breasts continue to experience changes throughout the pregnancy. While the early changes subside, late changes as an expression of colostrum can be noticed in some women.
- Heartburn: An increased Pressure to the stomach from the growing uterus may cause symptoms of heartburn.
- Swelling in feet and ankles: A compromised blood flow in the legs due to growing uterus may cause fluid buildup in the leg, causing leg edema.
- Occurrence of Varicose veins
- Urine leak/incontinence: pressure on bladder due to enlarged uterus can cause frequent urination or leak.
- Shortness of breath- again, the pressure from the uterus may push the diaphragm causing shortness of breath
- Braxton-Hicks contractions: these are weak contraction that diminishes with time, occurs during late pregnancy.
How to deal with it?
If you experience these signs and symptoms during your pregnancy period, then ; there is no need to worry; you are among the many women who experience these once or more in their lifetime. Home remedies and self-care strategies effectively relieve these symptoms but you can always consult your gynecologist if you face any trouble. They may prescribe you certain medications to get rid of the symptoms and enjoy your journey of becoming a mom.
1. Stoppler M.C. Early Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms: Am I Pregnant. MedicineNet. 2020.
2. American Pregnancy Association. (2015). Pregnancy symptoms—Early signs of pregnancy.
Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://americanpregnancy.org/home-page-featured/early-signs-of-pregnancy-71062
3. March of Dimes. Common discomforts of pregnancy https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/common-discomforts-of-pregnancy.aspx.