So, you think you’re pregnant? Here are some signs to look out for. By Kim Bell
Pregnancy timelines are based on the date of your last period, even though at that stage you haven’t ovulated and the egg hasn’t even been fertilised. Health professionals agree that pregnancy begins when a fertilised egg implants into the uterine wall, but the pregnancy test won’t show a positive result until another week after implantation. The reason that the first day of your last pregnancy counts as day one of your pregnancy is because most of us cannot be 100% sure when we conceived.
Ovulation occurs approximately 14 days after your last period.
Fast fact: An egg can survive for just 24 hours after ovulation (unless fertilised). Sperm, on the other hand, can survive in your reproductive tract for up to five days.
There are around 23 signs of pregnancy, according to Philip Druce, founder of Ovulation Calculator. Philip’s team conducted a survey with those women who had recently fallen pregnant through Ovulation Calculator, to find out more about the different symptoms, how commonly they occur and when you can expect to experience them.
According to the survey, 64% of participants experienced three or more symptoms. Tender breasts were the most common first symptom experienced, with some women reporting this symptom as early as six days after ovulation. Other women noticed implantation bleeding or fatigue as the first signs, and these were usually found in week four of pregnancy. During weeks four and five, symptoms such as morning sickness, bloating, constipation and the need to urinate more often all occured. The timing of these symptoms differs from woman to woman.
Here are the 13 most common symptoms of pregnancy:
Your body is starting to get your breasts ready for breastfeeding after birth, which involves high levels of progesterone, oestrogen, growth hormone and prolactin. The breast tissue and ductal swelling can cause sensitivity and tenderness.
Cervical fluid starts flowing during ovulation, and if you fall pregnant, this white, milky discharge drastically increases – so this may be one of your big tip-offs you are pregnant.
Spotting and cramping
Known as implantation bleeding, this is when a small amount of blood is discharged, sometimes accompanied by mild cramping or a slight pain in the lower abdominal area. This can occur around nine days after ovulation. Basically, when the fertilised egg implants into the uterine wall, it destroys a part of the wall in order to penetrate and start forming the placenta. This can be a confusing symptom, so look for other pregnancy signs to accompany this.
Your body is growing another human being. Cells are constantly dividing and growing, which uses a large amount of energy and nutrients. Hormones, such as cortisol and thyroid hormone T3 cause the breakdown in fat, glycogen and protein stores. There is also an increased demand on your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, plus there is pressure on your iron stores. All of these can cause fatigue and tiredness.
Nausea, particularly in the mornings, is considered a stereotypical sign. This is most common throughout the first trimester, and sometimes can be all-day sickness, depending on the severity. You may find that your senses, particularly smell, are also heightened. Certain foods, drinks or substances can smell or taste different, or can bring on a strong aversion. Health experts believe that this may be nature’s way of getting rid of substances that can be perceived as unhealthy for your baby. Around 75% of pregnant women experience morning sickness.
Constipation and bloating
Again, this is related to hormonal changes. Increased hormones relax the intestines to make more room for your growing baby, which in turn can result in you feeling constipated and bloated.
Your endocrine system undergoes a massive transformation during pregnancy, which results in an intense influx of hormones which can result in rapid mood shifts, more intense emotions and high irritability levels. This influx of hormones can mean that you may be crying one minute, and smiling the next.
This can be due to low blood sugar or dehydration as your body works overtime. Make sure you stay hydrated and eat small meals, particularly if you are also experiencing nausea.
Faster nail growth
A good side effect of pregnancy hormones is that your nails may grow more quickly.
Again, those pesky hormones are to blame. Your skin produces more oil which can cause your pores to become blocked from the dead skin cells and more oil, which in turn can increase breakouts. Around one third of women will experience breakouts during pregnancy.
Of course, headaches can have a long list of possible causes, but some women experience more headaches when pregnant. Hormones can result in the blood vessels relaxing in your brain, which can cause pain. Interestingly, those who usually experience migraines, may find that these lessen, due to less fluctuation of oestrogen and progesterone compared to your normal menstrual cycle.
The development of the placenta causes the release of a hormone, hCG, that results in a higher progesterone release. These high levels of progesterone are what “shut off” your normal menstrual cycle hormones.
A positive home pregnancy test
This is the easiest way to predict a pregnancy, as the test measures the hCG levels in your urine, which can be detected around two weeks after conception. This time frame is based on how sensitive the home test is.
Kim Bell is a wife, mother of two teenagers and a lover of research and the way words flow and meld together. She has been in the media industry for over 20 years, and yet still learns more about life from her children everyday. You can learn more about Kim Bell here.