Once you have made the decision to have a baby it can’t happen quickly enough. The first wait is until ovulation, and then, assuming you have timed your sex correctly, the countdown to the first pregnancy test begins. Those two weeks can feel like forever. Every twinge or ailment could be a hint at a possible pregnancy. Are my breasts always this sensitive? Do I feel a bit sick this morning or is it just hunger? Am I catching a cold, or is it maybe pregnancy related tiredness. The two-week wait can be an emotional rollercoaster, especially if you have been trying for a while.
The first physical signs of a pregnancy can easily be confused with the usual pre-menstrual symptoms, sensitive breasts, mild cramps, tiredness and bloating. But how can you tell if it’s typical PMT or perhaps the first exciting clues that you might be pregnant? The most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period and the only way you can be absolutely sure you are pregnant is to do a pregnancy test, but in the meantime your body might be trying to share some very exciting news with you. There are in fact some symptoms of pregnancy which can begin before your period is due – here is what to watch out for …
Tender, swollen breasts.
Within just days of conception your breasts may already be feeling more sensitive. Estrogen and progesterone levels rise rapidly after conception and this hormone surge causes your breasts to retain more fluids, resulting in them feeling sore and swollen. The veins may also be more prominent and the breasts heavier and fuller.
Light spotting known as implantation bleeding.
About 6 to 12 days after conception the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the womb. Because this happens at around the time a period would be expected, women sometimes mistake this light spotting and cramping for the start of a period. It is however usually lighter than a period and brown or pink in colour.
Feeling sleepy or even exhausted is a common early sign of pregnancy. The soaring levels of progesterone after conception often leave you feeling tired and emotional.
Nausea, whether in the morning or at any other time of the day, may well be a regular reminder that you are pregnant. Some women experience “morning sickness” as a mild motion sickness or general queasiness very early in their pregnancy. Nausea before a pregnancy test may be caused by rising levels of the hCG hormone, the hormone produced by cells surrounding a growing embryo and which eventually form the placenta after implantation. The presence of hCG is detected by some pregnancy tests as an indication that a woman is pregnant.
You might hope that it is the first sign of a baby bump but bloating during early pregnancy is caused by hormonal changes slowing down the digestive system. This is also a common symptom of PMS which stops when your period arrives.
Elevated Basal Body Temperature.
The higher levels of estrogen before ovulation cause a woman’s basal body temperature to fluctuate within a lower range. The second phase of the menstrual cycle, the luteal phase, begins at ovulation, during this phase the higher levels of progesterone cause the basal body temperature to fluctuate within a slightly higher range. If an egg is fertilized the progesterone levels continue to rise, if fertilization has not taken place progesterone will drop – and with it the woman’s basal body temperature. This means that if a woman’s basal body temperature remains at a higher level after ovulation it is an indication of higher progesterone levels and therefore a developing embryo.
Some women may notice a white, milky vaginal secretion. The walls of the vagina start thickening almost immediately after conception. The cervix is building a mucus plug to block the opening of the cervix and protect the uterus from infection.
And then there are the symptoms which defy explanation. Is it your body’s intuition? A gut feeling? Is your body sending you messages to avoid certain foods which may not be good for a developing embryo, like alcohol, caffeine, shellfish or greasy fast-food.
Strange tastes, smells and cravings.
- A strange taste in your mouth, which many women describe as metallic
- You can no longer face your morning coffee and just the thought of a prawn sandwich is enough to make you heave.
- Suddenly giving up smoking isn’t as difficult as you thought, in fact smoking makes you nauseous.
- You hate the smell of your own favorite perfume and a Friday night curry is out of the question!
The only way to know for sure that there is a baby on the way is to do a pregnancy test, but for now, listen carefully to your body, maybe it already knows something you don’t!