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Women are pretty amazing. We are so in-tune and great at picking up small changes in our bodies. Sometimes that leads us to think we might be pregnant! That could be a scary thought, an exciting thought, or maybe even a sickening thought. Whether planned or unexpected, women usually struggle to wait the several weeks for pregnancy to be able to show up on a wee stick.
Enter, your extensive list of early signs that may indicate you’re up the duff. We’ve described 13 common symptoms of early pregnancy so you don’t have to scour the depths of the internet.
1 – Breast Changes
I can hear all the itty-bitty-titty sufferers singing with joy. Increased breast size is common in early pregnancy. Our body knows that it needs to prepare to nourish a baby, so milk ducts and fatty tissue go through a rapid growth phase. With the increased blood volume that occurs in pregnancy, you may also notice that your breasts appear more veiny. Don’t go buying a handful of expensive maternity bras just yet. Your breasts are going to go through a lot of size changes once bub is earthside, so it’s best to wait and see.
2 – Dark & Sensitive Nipples
Your nipples can change colour. Even as a Midwife, when I had my own baby this one really surprised me. I’m so pasty white. Pre-pregnancy me basically had areola that could barely be seen because they were so pale. When they turned to a deep brown colour in early pregnancy I felt like I’d won the lotto. My tiny boobs were now full and perky, and my camouflage nipples were finally making an appearance.
Too bad they weren’t as fun as they sound. The breast sensitivity that comes with pregnancy is like nothing else. You’re very unlikely to want anyone or anything touching the girls! Beware the sharp tingly shock feeling you get as a crunchy towel sweeps across the nipples. Youch! Even sleeping comfortably in first trimester can be a nightmare because of breast and nipple tenderness. You may find using a body pillow from very early on can help you get a good night’s rest.
3 – Missed Period
It isn’t uncommon for women to get their period a little late on occasion. Perhaps we’ve had a particularly stressful month or some major diet changes that have kept Aunt Flow away. You know your own body and cycle the best. If you usually have an irregular cycle, then a missed period may not immediately suggest pregnancy to you. However if your cycle is consistently regular, to the day, then missing a period can be an early sign that a little baby has been conceived.
4 – Spotting
Ever heard a woman say she was pregnant but still got her period? That’s because some women get an implantation bleed in early pregnancy, and it can easily be confused with a period. So how can you tell the difference? While a period will generally last 4-7 days, an implantation bleed may only last 1-2 days. The amount of blood is a lot lighter, and severity of cramping is also lighter, if at all.
5 – Nausea and Vomiting
If you’re already confident you’re pregnant, because you feel so damn sick, my heart goes out to you. Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy affects everyone differently.
Some are lucky to have nothing, or a few days of uncomfortable nausea. Some have some really nasty bouts of vomiting or constant nausea, and some develop a debilitating condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Which basically means excessive vomiting in pregnancy.
If you have the latter, you may find no remedies work, and you should see a GP to discuss further treatment/relief options. For most women, some common strategies used for relief include snacking before getting out of bed, avoiding foods/smells that trigger your nausea, vitamin B6, Doxylamine, Metoclopramide or Ondansetron (script required), acupuncture, and acupressure bands.
Snacking on bland foods throughout the day can also be helpful. My friend/GP got me hooked on little packets of Tiny Teddies as she’d found these helpful in her own pregnancy.
6 – Exhaustion
The level of exhaustion that comes with the hormonal changes of pregnancy is beyond belief. I’d done 12-14 hour night shifts, with no breaks, yet had never felt as tired as I did in early pregnancy. Listen to your body – it knows best. Rest as much as you can. Master the art of daytime naps or getting into bed ridiculously early. That’s easier said than done if you have little ones at home, so you might need to get good at communicating your needs with your partner.
Remember, if they don’t know how to help, they may not offer.
7 – Extreme Headaches
Another fabulous symptom of early pregnancy hormones are headaches that feel like a brick to the head. Tried and tested relief include laying down with a heat pack across your eyes and one across the back of your neck, don’t shy from paracetamol, stay hydrated and rested, and peppermint migraine roll-on sticks. Keep the room dark, the noise low, and cancel plans if you can – lots of self love required. Some Mamas swear by bodywork also – such as Acupuncture, Chiro, or Bowen Therapy.
8 – Mood Changes
Be kind to yourself Mama. There’s no doubt that pregnancy can cause mood changes as it’s so hormonally driven. But don’t let anyone make you feel like a ‘crazy pregnant lady’.
No matter what number baby it is, pregnancy brings the promise of changes in the dynamic of the family and relationship with your partner. It demands us to evaluate so much about ourselves, our lives, our relationships, finances, career – the list is endless.
Yes hormones play a part, but give yourself some credit, and allow yourself to feel what comes up for you. If anxiety, worry, sadness, fear or isolation is impacting your emotional wellbeing, talk to your Midwife, or contact the PANDA Helpline 1300 726 306.
9 – Increased Sense of Smell
Yet another symptom that can be blamed on hormonal changes, increased sense of smell can vary among women. Some women develop an ability to smell only rivalled by drug-detection dogs. A piece of fruit being peeled can be smelt from several rooms away. Some poor Mamas find their increased sense of smell a trigger for nausea or vomiting.
Having Hyperemesis Gravidarum myself, my poor husband copped the worst of this symptom. He seemed to develop horrific morning breath as soon as I hit 5 weeks. In 12 years he’d never had it, but all of a sudden I could barely tolerate laying next to him. I’ll never forget the morning he rolled over, now face-to-face, and said “morning baby”. To which I promptly rolled over and hurled.
Our son is now 18 months old, and I still can’t stand the smell of the particular hairspray hubby used in our ensuite (my vomit room) in early pregnancy, nor the face cream I was using. If you too are suffering with bad nausea & vomiting, my advice to you is to stop using your favourite products until it passes!
10 – Changes to Taste, Food Aversions & Cravings
Noticed you can barely stand the thought of your favourite food? Been craving foods you generally wouldn’t eat? Metallic taste in the mouth? Personally, I think I kept the tomato juice companies in business during my pregnancy.
When associated with nausea and vomiting, it’s not unusual to wonder how you’ll ever enjoy food ever again. You may experience a weird conflict between feeling starving hungry yet totally grossed out at the thought of eating. Just trust me on this one, by the end of pregnancy, or maybe after baby has arrived, you will enjoy food again… and in more variety than just a particular craving.
And if you’re completely repulsed by the thought of eating, there’s always Nutella from the jar.
11 – Constipation
And as if all of the above symptoms aren’t enough to endure, constipation is an often unspoken symptom of pregnancy. Now more than ever you need to keep up the fibre, fruit & veg, and hydrate hydrate hydrate. Prune or pear juice can help. Some laxatives and stool softeners are safe in pregnancy (talk to the pharmacist), but be mindful that they can irritate the bowel and cause discomfort so should be a last resort.
Physical movement like walking can also aid bowel motility, and some women even find chewing gum helps.