Typical Signs and Symptoms what can you anticipate during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a transformative journey for your body as it nurtures the development of your baby in the womb. These changes often lead to a range of symptoms, which are typically not cause for concern. In most cases, these symptoms naturally resolve during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, often without requiring any medical intervention. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the most prevalent pregnancy symptoms, categorized into the three trimesters. It’s important to note that there may be some overlap between trimesters, and a few symptoms might persist throughout the entire pregnancy.
- First Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms
- Second Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms
- Third Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms
First Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms
1. Missed Period
If you have a regular menstrual cycle, you may notice the absence of your period approximately two weeks after conception. This is often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Occasionally, you might experience slight spotting around the time when your period would normally occur, which is known as ‘implantation bleeding.’ If you’re uncertain about whether you’re pregnant, it’s advisable to take a urine or blood pregnancy test to confirm.
2. Breast Changes
During the first trimester of pregnancy (weeks one to twelve), your breasts undergo significant changes as your body prepares for milk production. They may become more tender than usual, and you might notice tiny bumps around the nipple area becoming more prominent. Additionally, there may be increased pigmentation around the nipple and areola.
Early pregnancy is a period of substantial bodily changes, which can lead to increased fatigue. Later in pregnancy, fatigue may also set in as the baby grows larger and heavier. Rest is essential during this time. If you experience extreme tiredness, it could indicate conditions like anemia or hypothyroidism. It’s important to consult your doctor and undergo a thyroid function test if needed.
4. Increased Urination
Pregnancy hormones can cause an increased urge to urinate. As your pregnancy progresses, the growing baby can put pressure on your bladder, leading to even more frequent urination. Pregnant individuals are at a higher risk of urinary tract infections due to hormonal changes and the pressure on the urinary system. Staying well-hydrated is crucial. Studies have suggested that cranberry juice may help prevent recurring urinary tract infections. If you experience pain or a burning sensation while urinating, seek advice from your doctor promptly.
5. Morning Sickness
Many women experience nausea, particularly in the morning, during early pregnancy. However, some may endure nausea throughout the day and even at night. Roughly three-quarters of pregnant individuals experience nausea or vomiting early in their pregnancy. Typically, this subsides after the first 12-14 weeks, but it can persist intermittently throughout your pregnancy. Managing it can involve eating small, frequent meals to prevent hunger, as well as trying remedies like ginger biscuits or ginger tea. In cases of severe vomiting, consult your doctor for guidance on safe anti-nausea medications during pregnancy.
Pregnancy hormones can slow down the movement of your digestive system, potentially leading to constipation. This occurs because your body absorbs more water from food, resulting in harder and more difficult-to-pass stools. To alleviate constipation, it’s important to consume plenty of fluids and maintain a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods like cereals. For severe cases of constipation, your healthcare provider may recommend safe solutions, such as Isaplol and stool softening agents, suitable for use during pregnancy.
Second Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms
1. Weight Gain During Pregnancy:
During pregnancy, weight gain is a natural and expected part of the journey. The specific amount of weight you’ll put on varies from woman to woman and depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. On average, you can anticipate gaining approximately 10 to 12.5 kilograms (22 to 28 pounds) throughout your pregnancy.
This weight gain consists of several components, including:
- The growth of your developing baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid.
- The expansion of your uterus and breasts.
- The increase in blood volume in your circulation.
- Retention of water and the accumulation of fat stores.
It’s worth noting that some women may experience excessive weight gain due to fluid retention, which can sometimes raise concerns about conditions like pre-eclampsia. Conversely, others may gain relatively little weight, which might be indicative of reduced fetal growth, known as fetal growth restriction.
2. Managing Backache:
During pregnancy, the ligaments in your body become more pliable, which can put additional strain on the joints in your lower back and pelvis. To alleviate this discomfort, it’s essential to bend your knees and maintain proper posture when lifting objects. Additionally, massages can provide relief from backaches.
3. Dealing with Joint Instability and Suprapubic Pain:
Many expectant mothers notice that their pelvic joints, particularly the hips, feel “looser” and occasionally experience sharp pains. This phenomenon results from pregnancy hormones like relaxin and progesterone and is typically not a cause for alarm. Some women might also encounter midline pubic or suprapubic pain, which is likewise linked to pregnancy hormones. However, if these symptoms become severe, hinder your ability to walk without substantial pain, or cause significant discomfort, consulting your doctor is advisable.
4. Addressing Stretch Marks and Skin Changes:
The expansion of your skin as your baby grows often leads to the development of stretch marks, initially appearing as red lines on areas like your abdomen, hips, and thighs. After childbirth, they tend to fade and take on a silvery hue. While numerous creams and lotions claim to prevent or reduce stretch marks, their effectiveness with specific ingredients remains uncertain.
Some pregnant women may also notice increased pigmentation on areas such as the back of the neck, thighs, and the appearance of a dark line along the abdomen’s midline, known as linea nigra. These changes are typical during pregnancy and do not typically raise medical concerns.
5. Managing Bleeding Gums:
Pregnancy hormones can make your gums more prone to bleeding. It’s crucial to prioritize dental hygiene by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and using dental floss and mouthwash as needed. Neglecting gum issues can lead to periodontal disease, tooth loss, and, in rare cases, preterm labor. Therefore, scheduling a dental checkup during the second trimester of pregnancy is advisable.
6. Hair and Skin Changes:
Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy may lead to thicker hair growth and faster hair growth overall. While some women might notice increased hair shedding, there’s no need to worry, as this is usually a result of the accelerated growth cycle. Additionally, pregnancy hormones can cause your skin to produce more oil, potentially leading to skin issues like acne. If your skin becomes dry or itchy, moisturizing daily can help soothe discomfort, but it’s wise to avoid perfumed products that could irritate your skin.
Third Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms
During pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to the relaxation of the muscle at the end of your esophagus, which is responsible for preventing stomach acid from flowing back up. This can result in a condition known as heartburn, often accompanied by discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen. To alleviate these symptoms, consider opting for smaller, more frequent meals. Additionally, consult your healthcare provider to discuss safe antacid options for managing heartburn during pregnancy.
2. Varicose Veins
Varicose veins, typically found in the legs, can occasionally appear around the vulva during pregnancy. These swollen veins are a common occurrence due to hormonal changes that slow down circulation. To minimize the risk of worsening varicose veins, avoid prolonged periods of standing. Compression stockings may also help in preventing further development of varicose veins in your legs.
3. Piles (Haemorrhoids)
Constipation is a common pregnancy symptom that can lead to the development of painful and itchy piles, also known as haemorrhoids. The best way to prevent this issue is by addressing constipation promptly.
4. Urinary Incontinence
Pregnancy can stretch and sometimes damage the pelvic floor muscle, which supports your bladder. This can result in stress incontinence, causing small urine leaks when you cough, sneeze, laugh, jump, or run. To strengthen the pelvic floor and reduce the risk of stress incontinence, consider performing pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) during and after pregnancy.
5. Swelling in Ankles, Feet, and Hands (Oedema)
Oedema, characterized by swelling in the ankles, feet, and hands, occurs because the body retains more fluid and carries increased blood volume during pregnancy. If this swelling becomes severe, your doctor will monitor it to rule out pre-eclampsia, a serious condition.
6. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that arises when extra fluid in the body during pregnancy compresses the nerve passing through the wrist’s palm side. This compression can lead to tingling, numbness, and pain in the fingers and thumbs, affecting hand usage. Fortunately, carpal tunnel syndrome usually resolves shortly after giving birth. Using wrist splints, also known as Carpal Tunnel Splints, at night when sleeping can help alleviate this symptom.