· By Tiny Hearts Education
9 Signs You Might Be Pregnant
9 Signs You Might Be Pregnant
Written by Jade | Midwife, Mama of 3 & Tiny Hearts Educator
Pregnancy signs + symptoms are weird and wonderful things. What might be the experience of one mama may be completely different to the mama standing next to her. But first of all, why do we get pregnancy signs + symptoms?
A hormone known as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin [HCG] is only ever raised when a person becomes pregnant. It's responsible for many of the common pregnancy symptoms we see, along with many other hormones that come into play when it comes to pregnancy, such as Oestrogen and Progesterone. The rapid change in these hormones can wreak havoc on our bodies, leading to an array of symptoms of differing intensities. So let's get into it:
9 Signs You Might Be Pregnant
1. NAUSEA + VOMITING
You've probably heard of morning sickness, but the truth is that it may not only or always occur in the mornings. Some people may just feel nauseous, while others will vomit too. It could occur in the evenings, or for some unlucky mamas, it may occur all day. Nausea and vomiting might begin somewhere around 5-6 weeks and will likely subside somewhere around 12-13 weeks. In saying that, some mamas will experience it for longer or shorter periods of time, while others won't experience it at all. While the exact cause is unknown, it's thought to be caused by the rapidly changing hormones associated with being pregnant. To try and manage nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, you might consider:
- Eating small meals regularly
- Snacking at some stage overnight
- Eat before getting out of bed in the mornings
- Avoiding foods/ smells that worsen the nausea
- Eating foods/ drinks that have a natural anti-nausea effect, like ginger biscuits
- Keep some sickie catchers in your handbag all the time
- Medications, which you can get from the GP
When nausea and vomiting in pregnancy are constant and extreme, it may be a condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarium, leading to dehydration, weight loss, dizziness and many other distressing effects. This condition needs medical management, so if you think you've got Hyperemesis, chat to your Midwife, Obstetrician or GP.
2. Sore boobs [and nipples]
Sore boobs and nipples are usually one of, if not the earliest, pregnancy symptoms many mamas notice. Again, you can thank the huge surge in pregnancy hormones for this, which has been said to be noticeable as early as 4.5 weeks, but more commonly from 6 weeks onwards. It's common for the boobs to swell in early pregnancy, which is responsible for some of the tenderness. As the pregnancy progresses, the body makes changes to the breast tissue in preparation for milk production. In fact, milk is said to be present in the breast as early as 16 weeks, meaning so much change happens in those first weeks of pregnancy. While there's nothing you can do to prevent this, to help manage this symptom, you could try:
- Wearing well-fitting bras; some mamas find firm sitting to be soothing as well
- Adding extra padding to the nipple area in the bra
- Avoid exposing the nipples to the cold air
- Using heat or cool packs
- Using paracetamol if very uncomfortable
- Taking extra care when showering, bathing or getting dry and dressed to avoid rubbing the nipple unnecessarily
3. Food aversion
Around 6 out of 10 mamas will experience some form of food aversion during pregnancy. This is when a mama develops a strong dislike of a certain food or food group, causing avoidance, disgust, or even gagging/ vomiting by eating, seeing, smelling or even thinking of the food trigger. Pregnancy can also cause an increase in the sensitivities in smell or taste, which can influence food aversions too. Most of the time, these will pass on their own but may pop up at any point in the pregnancy. Usually, these occur between weeks 6-14, with the most common foods aversions being to:
- Spicy foods
- Fatty foods
Fatigue in pregnancy is so, so common once again, thanks to those pregnancy hormones, particularly in the first and third trimester, with a lot of mamas finding reprieve during the second trimester. Many mamas find themselves feeling guilty about sleeping more during the first trimester, but what so many don't realise is that while it may feel like you're not doing anything, your body is hard at work growing new life! Your hormones are also working against you to make you feel more fatigued, so remember, a morning sleep in or an arvo nap is never a bad thing if your body is telling you that you need it.
5. missed period
A missed period is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms. Usually, once the fertilised egg is implanted in the uterus, the hormone Progesterone increases, which prevents a period from occurring. This isn't a hard and fast rule, though, because there are still pregnant mamas out there that appear to get what seems to be a normal period for them. This is also tricky for mamas who don't get regular monthly periods because it may not be out of the blue for them to have a late period or skip a period altogether. Some things that can influence a period to be late are:
- Hormonal changes
- Birth control
- Medical conditions such as PCOS
If you're ever unsure seek medical advice.
6. implantation bleeding
When your fertilised egg implants in your uterus, it may cause spotting [known as implantation bleeding]. It can occur between 7-14 days after your egg is fertilised, which is usually around the same time that your period is due. Sometimes it can be tricky to determine what's the start of your period and what is implantation bleeding. You know what's normal for you when it comes to your period, but when it comes to implantation bleeding, you may find the bleeding:
- Is very light or more like spotting
- Doesn't continue like a period does
- Is lighter or darker coloured blood compared to a period
- May be accompanied by other pregnancy symptoms
- Usually lasts 1-2 days
Knowing what you know now, it may be obvious why cramping is an early pregnancy symptom. There's so much growth going on inside the uterus itself, hormones are going crazy, and the egg has implanted/ is implanting into the uterus. It's no wonder you've got some cramping during early pregnancy. The tricky thing is that this may also be caused by a period or a miscarriage. If the cramping is anything more than mild or is accompanied by concerning signs + symptoms, seek medical advice.
8. changes in bladder habbits
Even during early pregnancy, a mama may experience an increase in urination frequency from those hormones. As pregnancy progresses, bub will get bigger and put more pressure on your bladder, leading to you needing to empty the bladder much more frequently.
I'm a big believer in a mama's intuition. If you suspect you are pregnant, in my experience, chances are you're probably right. You know your body best and what's normal and not normal for you, particularly if you've had a baby already before.
Ways to confirm:
Blood test, urine test or ultrasound
If you suspect you are pregnant, one of the easiest ways to test is to purchase a home pregnancy test. These work by detecting the HCG hormone in the urine. Some tests are extremely sensitive and may detect the hormone before your period is due, while others may recommend not testing until your period is late. They are cheap and easily accessible but may not show true results if taken too early before enough HCG levels have accumulated.
The next way to test for a pregnancy is a blood test through the GP. If you suspect you are pregnant and go to the GP, they will offer you a blood test to measure the amount of HCG in the blood, which can be performed from very early pregnancy. We know that the level of HCG doubles roughly every 2-3 days, so the level that your hormones are found to be at may help to indicate how far along you are. No HCG in your blood = not pregnant.
If your urine test and/ or blood test are positive, indicating pregnancy, your Doctor or Midwife may offer you a dating scan. This is an ultrasound to determine how pregnant you are, confirm where the egg has implanted, check how many babies are growing and look at bub's development so far. As a result, an ultrasound will also confirm the presence of a pregnancy.
When do symptoms start?
When symptoms start is so individualised. It depends on a range of factors such as hormones and if you're pregnant with one or more than one bub. Some mamas find they feel their first symptom around 4-6 weeks pregnant, while others feel it a bit later on. It's exactly like how some mamas' pregnancy symptoms settle around 12-13 weeks, while others don't subside all pregnancy or settle initially then come back again later on. The truth is, everyone is different. You may have three pregnancies, and all three of them are polar opposite, so the only way to know for sure is to wait and see.
As pregnancy progresses, there are many many other symptoms you might experience, like:
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Skin breakouts and sweating
- Bleeding gums
- Hair growth
- Stuffiness in the nose
- Darkening nipples, melasma [dark patches of skin on the nose, cheeks and forehead] and a linea Niagara [dark line down the belly]
- Mild swelling in the feet
- Varicose veins
- Leaking milk from the breast and growing breasts
On the original post, I'd love to know; what were your first pregnancy symptoms and how far along were you when you got it? Looking forward to reading all your experiences! 💗
bump, birth and beyond
The Bump, Birth & Beyond course will educate you and your co-pilot (support person) on what to expect during pregnancy, birth and the first trimester with your new little love.