First symptoms of pregnancy

Pregnancy symptoms may appear a few days or weeks after conception.

Before the cycle, the couple is worried about whether conception has occurred.

Fortunately, there are some methods and symptoms that can detect whether a woman has become pregnant, even in the first few weeks.

The woman’s organism changes already in the first days after fertilization to create the conditions for the growth of the embryo.

The hormones can cause anatomical and functional changes in the woman’s body, including:

  1. enlargement of the breast,
  2. vasodilation (dilation of arteries and veins),
  3. increase in body temperature,
  4. Relaxation of smooth muscles (unintentionally).

At the beginning of pregnancy, the symptoms are very different, some women have clear symptoms, while others do not perceive any difference.

The symptoms of pregnancy can appear a few weeks after conception.
Many people think that pregnancy cannot occur during lactation. But this is wrong, especially if the child is not breastfed regularly.


Signs and symptoms of the first days of pregnancy

The result of a positive pregnancy test after delaying menstruation is a safe index for a pregnant woman.

Nevertheless, other physical signs may also exist before the absence of menstrual bleeding.

Abdominal swelling
Most women feel this symptom in the early stages of pregnancy.
Hormonal changes that take place in the body cause the body to swell.

Increased basal body temperature

In the period when the egg implants in the uterine wall, the basal body temperature increases (body temperature at rest upon awakening).

Basal body temperature depends on progesterone:

  • Before ovulation, progesterone levels are low and body temperature is around 36.3°C. The value may vary, but it usually does not exceed 36.6 °C.
  • If the level of this hormone in the blood is elevated, the temperature rises to 36.8 °C/37 °C.

Normally, this increase in temperature occurs immediately after ovulation and the temperature does not drop again until 6-12 days after ovulation.

With fertilization, the basal body temperature remains elevated for at least 15 days after ovulation. This is a reliable sign that conception has occurred.

However, there may be other factors that can change the temperature, such as a cold or infection.

Painful breasts and darker nipples
An early sign of pregnancy is a swollen breast that causes pain. The chest pain is similar to that before the onset of menstruation and is more pronounced during pregnancy.
Hormonal changes can increase blood flow to the breasts and make them more sensitive.

Hormonal effects on the breast

  • Progesterone is a hormone responsible for breast changes at the beginning of pregnancy.

This hormone favors the growth of the breast so that the woman has enough milk available for the nutrition of the newborn.

  • Estrogens and prolactin lead to proliferation and dilation of the channels that carry the milk to the areola.

The estrogens also cause an increase in the size of the areola, which becomes darker over the course of pregnancy.

This can be observed in the 1st-2nd week after conception.

Tiredness or sleepiness

The increase in progesterone levels leads to massive fatigue. The change in hormone levels makes pregnant women:

  • exhausted
  • and sleepy.

These are the most common symptoms and they occur:

  • in the first trimester, even at the beginning,
  • in the third trimester.

At the beginning of pregnancy, the body has to work hard for the formation of the placenta.

The hormonal changes lead to:

  • Low blood pressure, because it comes to the dilation of the superficial blood vessels. The result is less resistance to blood flow and thus the heart pumps the blood with less force.
  • Drop in glycaemia (blood sugar levels).
  • Nausea, vomiting and lack of appetite.

The need for iron increases, so the woman may suffer from anemia.

In addition, some women suffer from insomnia and this in turn leads to nervousness and fatigue.

Light discharge during implantation bleeding
Nidation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg implants in the well-supplied uterine wall. The spot that stands out is slightly red, pink or brown-reddish in color. It can be observed over a day a few days before menstruation.

One should consult the doctor to rule out the possibility of ectopic pregnancy. If there is an outflow:

  • longer than 5 days,
  • together with pain in the abdomen,

Implantation bleeding can occur within 6-12 days after conception.

Pain and abdominal cramps

The sudden increase in hormone levels in the body at the beginning of pregnancy can cause:

  • Headaches, which can be caused by anxiety, fatigue, dehydration, insomnia, and nausea.
  • And back pain in the initial stages, caused by the increase in the hormone relaxin. This hormone increases the elasticity of ligaments. The result is a greater range of motion and less stability of the spine. In this condition, the bones of the joints are loosened in an abnormal way, allowing some joint elements to stretch. This causes joint inflammation and pain. Cramps can also be caused due to the changes in the uterus.

Some women also experience symptoms after conception, such as shortness of breath, emotional fluctuations and hot flashes.

Pregnancy symptoms in the first few weeks

Nausea and vomiting
The increase in hormone levels in the body causes nausea.
It can occur at any time of the day or night. However, nausea is not always accompanied by vomiting. The woman may also develop a finer sense of smell, which leads to nausea with certain foods.
This sign may disappear over the course of 2-8 weeks after conception.
Some women feel heartburn. If nausea is severe and causes vomiting, it is important to drink plenty of water or other fluids to avoid dehydration.

Scientists do not know the exact cause of nausea in pregnancy, but they agree that it is related to the hormones.

Some studies point in particular to the relationship between hCG peak and pregnancy vomiting between the twelfth and fourteenth week of pregnancy.

In addition, this symptom exists in some diseases or situations characterized by an increase in hCG, such as molar or twin pregnancy.

Sources: Goodwin T. Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy; of obstretric syndrome. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002;186:S184–S189. [PubMed]

Some scientific studies have evaluated the role of prostaglandin E2 as a cause of nausea during pregnancy, because it acts on the smooth muscles of the stomach.

A study by North et al. found higher levels of prostaglandin E2 in the periods when nausea and vomiting were more severe than in asymptomatic periods of 18 pregnant women.

Sources: North RA, Whitehead R, Larkins RG. Stimulation by human chorionic Gonadotropin of Prostaglandin Synthesis by early human Placental Tissue. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991;73:60–70. [PubMed]

According to the hygienists, the woman should not eat if she feels nausea in the first three months of pregnancy, but better wait until the appetite returns.

Weight loss at the beginning of pregnancy is relatively common.

Stool constipation or diarrhea
The intestine becomes sluggish due to hormonal changes. The result is constipation.

Causes are:

  • The increased progesterone level relaxes the smooth muscles (involuntarily) throughout the body, including the muscles of peristalsis, i.e. the muscles that move the food in the intestine. This means that the food moves forward more slowly.
  • The uterus becomes larger and heavier due to the child, pressing on the intestine.
  • Iron supplements can promote constipation.

One should therefore move a lot and eat foods rich in fiber (fruits, raw vegetables, potatoes, nuts, almonds, legumes, etc.).

Some women may be prone to the opposite, diarrhea.

Frequent urination

The hormone changes caused by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) also lead to increased urination. The hormones relax the bladder muscles and thus limit the ability to retain urine.

Another reason for frequent urination during pregnancy is the growth of the uterus pressing on the bladder (especially in the third trimester). As a result, the bladder fills quickly and the toilet needs to be visited more often.

This symptom is most common:

  • in the first 3 months,
  • in the third trimester.

Cravings/aversion to food
Most women have an appetite for certain foods before their menstrual period and in the later stages of pregnancy. However, some women may have the craving for food even in the early stages, but confuse it with a symptom of premenstrual syndrome. On the other hand, there is also an aversion to food in the early stages of pregnancy, especially dairy and cheese products, fish and fried foods.

According to psychologists, this desire is a sign of the need for attention.

When do pregnancy symptoms begin?

Within a week of conception (about a week before the period), the first symptoms of pregnancy appear. But for every woman, the times are different.
Sometimes the symptoms come and go (for example, occur every other day), even if the course of pregnancy is normal. Again, some women have no symptoms whatsoever even though they are pregnant.

Normally, women wait for the absence of menstruation to confirm the result.
This symptom occurs within two weeks of conception.

Beta-hCG in blood and urine Even though blood tests and urine
tests to determine the result are fairly accurate in the first few days (within a week), it is always recommended to wait at least 20 days to get a reliable result.
A significant increase in human chorionic gonadotropin (beta hCG) is expected, reaching a concentration of 25 mIU/ml during the first and second weeks.
The presence of this hormone in the blood and urine confirms pregnancy. In addition, the large amounts of hCG and progesterone during pregnancy are responsible for the physical and emotional changes that occur in the body.

The first symptoms of pregnancy

The first sign of pregnancy is the absence of menstruation (amenorrhea).
There are also symptoms similar to premenstrual syndrome, except nausea and vomiting.
These are the most obvious signs of pregnancy after a month.
Chest pain, swollen nipples, and a dark areola are some physical changes that indicate pregnancy during the first and second weeks.

During the second and third weeks, the uterine lining expands and cramps may occur in the lower part of the body, especially in the legs and abdomen.

Pregnancy symptoms when taking contraceptives

A woman can become pregnant despite taking contraceptives.

This can be done for various reasons, for example:

  • if the instructions for use are not followed correctly (if you forget to take a pill),
  • if you suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, because then the pill can not be absorbed correctly,
  • if medications are taken that reduce the effect of contraception, for example, an antifungal drug such as fluconazole or antibiotics such as azithromycin).

If a woman becomes pregnant while taking contraceptives, the symptoms of pregnancy are no different than with a normally desired pregnancy.

A woman can become pregnant despite taking contraceptives.

The first signs are easy to recognize, especially if it is not a woman’s first pregnancy.
However, it is important to mention that during each pregnancy, the symptoms are different.
In one pregnancy, the woman may suffer from nausea, while in another there is no such symptom.

Other symptoms include:

  • Minimal menstrual period
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Ravenous appetite

Difference Between Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Pregnancy

Symptoms that distinguish pregnancy from PMS include:

  1. Absence of menstruation: it can be considered a reliable sign of pregnancy in women who have a regular menstrual cycle.
  2. Nidation bleeding: it occurs when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining.
    This usually takes place 6-12 days after fertilization.
    The bleeding is light and the blood appears pink or brown (abnormal). Does not occur in all women.
  3. Frequent urination: pregnancy leads to the growth of the uterus and its pressure on the bladder increases.
    This triggers a frequent urge to urinate.
  4. High sensitivity to odors: pregnant women may develop a pronounced aversion not only to certain odors, but also to scents previously perceived as pleasant.
  5. Morning sickness: it occurs in 90% of pregnant women. This is a feeling of nausea. Even though it is referred to as “morning”, it can occur at any moment of the day.
  6. Elevated basal body temperature: if it persists for more than 18 days after ovulation, it is a very likely sign of pregnancy.
  7. Shortness of breath: pregnant women may suffer from shortness of breath. This can be explained by an increased oxygen demand for the development of the embryo.
    If this symptom occurs suddenly together with pain or lying down, the doctor must be notified immediately.
  8. Darkening of the areola: the increased estrogen levels in the mother expand the size of the areola. In addition, it becomes darker as pregnancy progresses.
  9. Melasma: also known as pregnancy mask, melasma is a dark discoloration of the skin exposed to sunlight. After birth, the melasma disappears again.

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