Are you feeling “different” and suspect you might be pregnant? Here are some of the early pregnancy symptoms that can help you determine if you have a bun in the oven…
Common early signs of pregnancy
Every woman is different and will have different symptoms when pregnant. You may be very lucky and experience just one or two or you may be unlucky enough to have every symptom the book can throw at you. That said, these are some of the most common signs you can expect.
- Missing a period. If your menstrual cycle is regular, it will be easier for you to notice if you’ve skipped a period and act accordingly. If you have an irregular cycle, it may take you a bit longer – and a few other symptoms – to realise that you’re pregnant.
- Implantation bleeding (which happens when the fertilised embryo attaches to the uterine wall) occurs 10 to 14 days after conception and can also be mistaken for a light period.
- Sensitive, swollen breasts. Hormonal changes early in your pregnancy may cause your breasts to become tender or swollen. Fortunately, this discomfort will most likely fade as your body becomes accustomed to these hormonal changes.
- Morning sickness. Contrary to the term, nausea and/or vomiting is not limited to the morning. Some women may experience it in the morning, others may suffer all day. Thought to be caused by hormonal fluctuations, morning sickness is usually an early first-trimester symptom, but some women may suffer throughout their pregnancy. Some women may even suffer from a very serious form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum that will require treatment.
- The urge to pee more often. Why do you suddenly need to urinate all the time? During pregnancy, the volume of blood in your body increases. Your kidneys need to process this extra fluid, which is then sent to your bladder resulting in more frequent trips to the loo.
- Tired all the time. Another one to chalk up to hormones, fatigue during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is quite common. This can be accompanied by emotional ups and downs.
- Cravings and/or aversions. If your favourite food or fragrance suddenly turns your stomach, or you have an unexpected inclination to mix peanut butter with pickles (or other bizarre combinations) or yearn for something you don’t normally eat or drink, it’s a good sign you might be expecting. These food cravings or aversions can last throughout your pregnancy and even after your baby has been born.
- These may occur especially during your first and third trimester and are most likely caused by hormones and an increase in blood volume.
- A thin, milky vaginal discharge occurs throughout pregnancy and is caused by oestrogen and the thickening of your vaginal walls. Wearing a panty liner may keep you feeling more comfortable and confident.
- Bleeding gums and noses. Hormones can cause gums to become inflamed and bleed during brushing or flossing, while expanded blood vessels in the nose can cause nose bleeds.
Uncommon early signs of pregnancy
- Pica is craving and eating non-nutritive substances such as dirt and chalk, ice or clay.
- Stuffy or blocked nose due to excess mucus production.
- Cramping similar to period pains can occur in the first trimester.
- Dizziness due to increases in hormone levels as well as a change in blood pressure and the volume of blood in your body. Low blood sugar can also result in feelings of light-headedness.
- Dysgeusia is a metal taste in the mouth that usually disappears after the first trimester.
- Migraines are vascular headaches caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the brain. You may have had these before pregnancy or they may be a new symptom. Migraines can be debilitating, so talk to your healthcare professional about the best way to ease the pain.
- Varicose veins. As your uterus expands, it puts pressure on the inferior vena cava (largest blood vessel on the right side of your body) which can cause varicose veins in your legs and even your vulva and breasts.
“One of the more embarrassing symptoms of pregnancy, an increase in the production of progesterone slows down digestion causing gas.”
- Bloating and flatulence. One of the more embarrassing symptoms of pregnancy, an increase in the production of progesterone slows down digestion causing gas.
- Vivid dreams and nightmares can be due to pregnancy hormones, as well as interrupted sleep caused by trips to the toilet, cramps or, later, your baby’s movement.
- Butterfingers. You may have dropped things before and have people ask if you’re pregnant – it isn’t always a joke and may well be a sign that you’re pregnant.
- Waking up feeling hot. Ovulation increases body temperature and if it doesn’t regulate within a couple of weeks, you could be pregnant.
- Change in breast milk. If you’re breastfeeding another child when you fall pregnant, they might refuse the breast due to pregnancy hormones changing the taste of your milk.
How did you know you were pregnant?
Vahnia-Jane Felix Cunningham: “High blood pressure in the early stages. I didn’t know if it was a sign of pregnancy but it had never happened to me before then and it was how I found out I was pregnant. It was unusual because I was told that if high blood pressure happens during pregnancy, it’s normally towards the end.”
Hasina Hajat: “I got very sick with flu and a bad runny nose in the first month of all three of my pregnancies. That’s how I knew.”
Nthabi Sli Mohlomi Swarts: “Extreme abdominal cramps for almost the whole month. I thought it was period pains but when I missed my period, I got a home pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant.”
Cariad Mc Aslin: “I knew I was pregnant as my legs got tired and felt heavy.”
Sal Sarika Govender: “I was feeling cold during 30-degree summer weather. I sat in the office with a blanket and hot water bottle, and the aircon on heat.”
Nelani Mdletshe: “Hot flashes every other minute. When this continued into the following day, I booked an appointment with my GP and, to my crazy surprise, I was four weeks pregnant.”
You can expect plenty of changes to your body (thank you, hormones!) and a variety of symptoms when you’re pregnant. However, if you are worried about anything, always speak to your healthcare professional.