Pregnancy occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg after it’s released from the ovary during ovulation. The fertilized egg then travels down into the uterus, where implantation occurs. A successful implantation results in pregnancy.
On average, a full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Women who receive an early pregnancy diagnosis and prenatal care are more likely to experience a healthy and give birth to a healthy baby.
Symptoms of Pregnancy
You may notice some signs and symptoms before you even take a pregnancy test. Others will appear weeks later, as your hormone levels change.
A missed period is one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy (and maybe the most classic one). However, a missed period doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pregnant, especially if your cycle tends to be irregular.
There are many health conditions other than pregnancy that can cause a late or missed period.
Headaches are common in early pregnancy. They’re usually caused by altered hormone levels and increased blood volume. Contact your doctor if your headaches don’t go away or are especially painful.
Some women may experience light bleeding and spotting in early pregnancy. This bleeding is most often the result of implantation. Implantation usually occurs one to two weeks after fertilization.
Early pregnancy bleeding can also result from relatively minor conditions such as an infection or irritation. The latter often affects the surface of the cervix (which is very sensitive during pregnancy).
Bleeding can also sometimes signal a serious pregnancy complication, such as miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or placenta previa. Always contact your doctor if you’re concerned.
You can expect to gain between 1 and 4 pounds in your first few months of pregnancy. Weight gain becomes more noticeable toward the beginning of your second trimester.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, sometimes develops during pregnancy. A number of factors can increase your risk, including:
- being overweight or obese
- having a prior history or a family history of pregnancy-induced hypertension
Hormones released during pregnancy can sometimes relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus. When stomach acid leaks out, this can result in heartburn.
Hormone changes during early pregnancy can slow down your digestive system. As a result, you may become constipated.
As the muscles in your uterus begin to stretch and expand, you may feel a pulling sensation that resembles menstrual cramps. If spotting or bleeding occurs alongside your cramps, it could signal a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.
Hormones and stress on the muscles are the biggest causes of back pain in early pregnancy. Later on, your increased weight and shifted center of gravity may add to your back pain. Around half of all pregnant women report back pain during their pregnancy.
Pregnant women have an increased risk of anemia, which causes symptoms such as lightheadedness and dizziness.
The condition can lead to premature birth and low birth weight. Prenatal care usually involves screening for anemia.
Between 14 and 23 percent of all pregnant women develop depression during their pregnancy. The many biological and emotional changes you experience can be contributing causes.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you don’t feel like your usual self.
Insomnia is another common symptom of early pregnancy. Stress, physical discomfort, and hormonal changes can be contributing causes. A balanced diet, good sleep habits, and yoga stretches can all help you get a good night’s sleep.
Breast changes are one of the first noticeable signs of pregnancy. Even before you’re far enough along for a positive test, your breasts may begin to feel tender, swollen, and generally heavy or full. Your nipples may also become larger and more sensitive, and the areolae may darken.
Because of increased androgen hormones, many women experience acne in early pregnancy. These hormones can make your skin oilier, which can clog pores. Pregnancy acne is usually temporary and clears up after the baby is born.
Vomiting is a component of “morning sickness,” a common symptom that usually appears within the first four months. Morning sickness is often the first sign that you’re pregnant. Increased hormones during early pregnancy are the main cause.
Hip pain is common during pregnancy and tends to increase in late pregnancy. It can have a variety of causes, including:
- pressure on your ligaments
- changes in your posture
- a heavier uterus
Diarrhea and other digestive difficulties occur frequently during pregnancy. Hormone changes, a different diet, and added stress are all possible explanations. If diarrhea lasts more than a few days, contact your doctor to make sure you don’t become dehydrated.
Stress and pregnancy
It can also be a source of stress. A new baby means big changes to your body, your personal relationships, and even your finances. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for help if you begin to feel overwhelmed.
The bottom line
If you think you may be pregnant, you shouldn’t rely solely on these signs and symptoms for confirmation. Taking a home pregnancy test or seeing your doctor for lab testing can confirm a possible pregnancy.
Many of these signs and symptoms can also be caused by other health conditions, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Pregnancy week by week
Pregnancy weeks are grouped into three trimesters, each one with medical milestones for both you and the baby.
A baby grows rapidly during the first trimester (weeks 1 to 12). The fetus begins developing their brain, spinal cord, and organs. The baby’s heart will also begin to beat.
During the first trimester, the probability of a miscarriage is relatively high. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), it’s estimated that about 1 in 10 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and that about 85 percent of these occur in the first trimester.
Seek immediate help if you experience the symptoms of miscarriage.
During the second trimester of pregnancy (weeks 13 to 27), your healthcare provider will likely perform an anatomy scan ultrasound.
This test checks the fetus’s body for any developmental abnormalities. The test results can also reveal the sex of your baby, if you wish to find out before the baby is born.
You’ll probably begin to feel your baby move, kick, and punch inside of your uterus.
After 23 weeks, a baby in utero is considered “viable.” This means that it could survive living outside of your womb. Babies born this early often have serious medical issues. Your baby has a much better chance of being born healthy the longer you are able to carry the pregnancy.
During the third trimester (weeks 28 to 40), your weight gain will accelerate, and you may feel more tired.
Your baby can now sense light as well as open and close their eyes. Their bones are also formed.
As labor approaches, you may feel pelvic discomfort, and your feet may swell. Contractions that don’t lead to labor, known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, may start to occur in the weeks before you deliver.
The bottom line
Developments will most likely occur within this general time frame. Find out more about the changes you and your baby will undergo throughout the trimesters and sign up for our I’m Expecting newsletter to receive week-by-week guidance.
At Amrita Medical Center, our staff is happy to answer any of your questions and help you decide if the right fit for you. We even offer same day appointments for your convenience. Contact us here!