Missing your period and feeling a little unwell are common early signs of pregnancy – but there are many other early pregnancy symptoms that may indicate you are pregnant. Some people say they feel certain they’re pregnant at the moment of conception, thinking they can already feel the very first signs of pregnancy. While for others it may take a positive pregnancy test – or two – to convince them.
If you think you might be pregnant or get a positive pregnancy test, make an appointment with your doctor to confirm your pregnancy and run more tests as needed.
Common signs & symptoms of pregnancy
Early changes in your breasts
Your breasts can start changing soon after conception, becoming fuller, heavier and more sensitive, thanks to changing hormones. You may also notice your nipples darkening.
Tips: If your nipples are tender, try a breast pad to reduce friction. For tender or swollen breasts, it may be time to buy a maternity bra with no underwire, that gives you room to grow!
Nausea and vomiting
Morning sickness (and not just in the morning!) can kick in any time after conception. There can be varying degrees of morning sickness - some lucky women don’t experience any at all! If you have severe nausea and can’t keep anything down, contact your doctor.
Tips: Eat small amounts regularly – while it may be hard to avoid all the things you crave, try to keep your meals and snacks to healthy choices. Avoid greasy and spicy foods which may aggravate your stomach, and you may want to stay out of the kitchen if food smells set you off.
Tiredness and fatigue
Although fatigue is common in the first weeks as your progesterone levels rise, tiredness often continues into your first trimester and may last throughout your pregnancy. Fatigue which continues into late pregnancy may also be a result of low iron levels or anaemia. Your doctor will monitor your levels throughout pregnancy and may recommend tablets or an infusion if required.
Tips: Take as much rest as possible. You may find that even sitting with your feet up gives you relief. Eat foods rich in iron throughout your pregnancy to help maintain adequate iron stores.
You may notice irritability caused by the drastic hormonal changes in your body.
Tips: Try to avoid stress, communicate your needs and pamper yourself.
Early in your pregnancy, you may notice you’re using the bathroom more frequently. Your body starts producing more blood which means your kidneys process extra fluid. This extra water ends up in your bladder and needs to go somewhere! During the later stages of your pregnancy the increasing size of your baby pressing on your bladder will also mean more frequent toilet trips.
Tips: Empty your bladder as frequently as required – it might help to always use the bathroom before you go to sleep at night!
Pregnant women often experience cravings or aversions for foods. Some women even develop strange cravings for non-food items like soil or paper. Speak to your healthcare professional if you have any ‘unusual’ food cravings, as it may indicate a nutrient deficiency.
Tips: Try to opt for healthy snacks and nutrient packed meals to meet your additional nutritional needs and give you the energy you need.
Heightened sense of smell and taste
Pregnancy hormones can affect your taste buds and sense of smell.
Tips: Try to keep to healthy snacks and meals, and variety may be the key.
There are a range of other symptoms women experience in the early stages of pregnancy, for example constipation, backache, itchy skin and leg cramps. However, these could all be indicative of other non-pregnancy conditions. See your doctor if in doubt about any symptoms you’re experiencing.