Nausea and Vomiting (Morning Sickness)
Up to 80% of women experience morning sickness in the early stages of pregnancy. The symptoms vary from woman to woman, but in many cases it impedes women from being able to perform everyday tasks, can sometimes cause depression and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (excessive vomiting) in the most severe of cases. Vomiting during pregnancy, although common, can lead to a substantial loss of nutrients and body weight. Since this can be detrimental to the baby’s development (which is particularly sensitive in the early stages of pregnancy), we advise that you talk to your doctor or midwife should you be vomiting excessively or feel as though you may have HG. It is common for pregnant women to have a hard time keeping food down during the early stages of pregnancy. Check out this blog for more information on Pregnancy Super Foods that provide an amazing amount of nutrients in just a few bites.
Health experts aren’t entirely sure why women are prone to having headaches throughout their pregnancies. Doctors have suggested several potential contributing factors that may increase the incidence of pregnancy-related headaches, including the increase in blood flow and circulation throughout the body that occurs, the imbalance and restructuring of bodily hormones, general fatigue, stress, depression, dehydration and hunger.
During the first few weeks of being pregnant, you may experience implantation cramps and spotting while your fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus. Like all of these early-stage signs, implantation cramping is also subjective. Some women have experienced these symptoms as soon as 1 week after they ovulate, while others have experienced no cramping or spotting whatsoever. Cramping can continue after the initial stages of pregnancy, at which time it is referred to as ‘round ligament pain.’ The stretching and growing of your uterine muscles, as it works to constantly make more room for your growing baby, causes round ligament pain.
Shortness of Breath
Your body will require more oxygen during pregnancy and feeling short of breath can often be fairly noticeable, even in the very early stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy causes progesterone levels to rise. This hormonal increase affects your lungs and respiratory center of the brain. As you progress through your pregnancy the baby’s growth gradually increases its pressure on your diaphragm, which can often lead to labored breathing. Labored breathing while pregnant is particularly true for women who are carrying multiples or have an excess of amniotic fluid.
Many women experience back pain as an early sign of pregnancy in varying degrees of severity and related symptoms can persist for as long as 20 weeks. That being said, pregnancy-related back pain can last even longer than that, particularly for women who have pre-existing back problems or are carrying multiples. Much like experiencing a shortness of breath, pregnancy-related back pain often occurs due to the natural increase of progesterone levels within the body. This hormonal increase softens the ligaments and disks of the back resulting in tight, burning pains particularly in the lower parts of the back.
Having to pee frequently is one of the most common early signs of pregnancy and it can start as early as 6 weeks into your first trimester. This is caused by (you guessed it) hormonal changes within the body that cause an increase in blood flow through your kidneys. This results in your bladder becoming full more frequently. As your pregnancy progresses, so does the pressure your growing uterus has on your bladder. Pregnant women typically need to urinate more often during the night or whilst lying down. This occurs as a result of retained fluids stored in your extremities flowing back into your bloodstream and eventually into your bladder.
Fatigue is very common during the first trimester and often returns with a vengeance in the third trimester. Like many of these early pregnancy symptoms, the levels and severity of fatigue amongst pregnant women vary. Some women can feel tired for their entire pregnancy, while others don’t feel tired at all. It has been suggested that pregnancy-related fatigue is mostly caused by hormonal changes in the body, depression, poor sleeping habits and discomfort/restlessness during sleep (and having to get up frequently through the night of course). Morning sickness, and particularly vomiting, can also be exhausting.
Much like many of the aforementioned symptoms including frequent urination, fatigue and headaches, breast soreness is associated with hormonal changes and increased blood flow within the body that occurs during pregnancy. Breast tenderness can begin as early as 4-6 weeks and usually lasts for only the first trimester. The breast tissues continue to change, grow and prepare for nursing throughout pregnancy so many women can continue to experience breast soreness in the second and third trimesters as well.
Cravings and/or Food Issues
This is another pregnancy-related symptom that stems from the effects of pregnancy hormones. These hormonal shifts also intensify sense of smell and therefore influence taste and food choices. Experts aren’t entirely sure why some women have food cravings and food aversions, although some argue that it is the body’s way of protecting itself. It has been suggested that food cravings and aversions work to notify the body of what it does and does not need. However, many experts maintain that this is highly unlikely and that these cravings and aversions have possibly more to do with such things as the processes of the brain, stress, emotional duress, fatigue and changes in mood.