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Pregnancy

Every day a large number of women worldwide ask themselves the following question: How do I know if I am pregnant? Although pregnancy symptoms vary in intensity, frequency and duration from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy, the earliest pregnancy signs are usually easy to recognise. Herewith a list of common symptoms that can indicate the fact that you are indeed expecting a baby.

Pregnancy Test

1. Missed period
When your period is late the most logical conclusion you come to is the fact that you must be pregnant. You don’t have to be, however, as your period can be late for a number of other reasons – such as stress, illness, being overweight or underweight and changes in medication.

2. Morning sickness
Nausea and/or vomiting are pregnancy symptoms that are most common between weeks four and eight, however some women experience morning sickness throughout their whole pregnancy while some don’t experience it at all. Morning sickness – usually triggered by certain smells – can actually occur at any time of the day, and is generally caused by a rapid rise in oestrogen produced by the foetus and placenta.

3. Extreme tiredness and exhaustion
In your first pregnancy trimester your body is trying to get used to all the changes that are happening within, and will be working hard to adjust to these changes. This means that you’ll more likely than not feel very tired – more so than what you normally do. Also your foetus is taking necessary nutrients from you in order to grow, which means that your supply of important vitamins and minerals such as iron will decrease. Besides, your body is producing more progesterone – which is known to cause tiredness. You’ll also be emotional as hormones are playing havoc with your body, and this will no doubt wear you out as well.

4. Bloating and a higher body temperature
A bloated tummy can be an early pregnancy sign, and so can a higher body temperature. BBT, your basal body temperature, is the temperature of your body as you wake up and get out of bed in the morning. During ovulation your BTT normally increases, but during menstruation it decreases again. However when you have conceived your BTT continues to stay high after your period is late. This means that a high temperature could indeed indicate the fact that you are pregnant.

5. Tender and swollen breasts
Tender and swollen breasts is a common early pregnancy symptom for most women. As your breasts undergo changes to prepare for breastfeeding, they will be sore and extra sensitive. The same goes for your nipples, which sometimes also darken in colour.

6. Light bleeding and cramping
When a fertilised egg implants itself in the uterine lining, 10-14 days after conception, you might experience a light bleeding. And when your uterus begins to expand in order to make room for your growing baby, cramping similar to menstrual cramps often occur.

7. Lower back pain
When it comes to lower back pain, this is a common early pregnancy sign that can be caused by a number of reasons – such as weight gain, the fact that your posture gets thrown out of alignment, lack of sleep because you are uncomfortable and hormonal changes (i.e. joints and ligaments are loosening up to get your body ready for birth).

8. Frequent urination
For a pregnant woman running to the bathroom all the time is very common -especially in your first and last trimester – as your uterus is growing and puts pressure on your bladder. Also, pregnancy causes extra body fluids to be processed by your kidneys and bladder.

9. Headaches, dizziness and fainting
Increased hormone levels can cause intense headaches when you are pregnant, especially in your first trimester. And simple tasks such as climbing stairs and standing in line at the grocery store can make you feel light-headed or even make you faint. When you are pregnant your uterus swells and will compress arteries in your legs – which in turn can drop your blood pressure and make you dizzy. Also, if you don’t eat for a while you may feel very faint.

10. Mood swings and irritability
It’s completely normal to feel anxious about pregnancy and birth. It’s also normal to at the same time feel happiness and anticipation. Increased hormone levels in pregnant women can indeed cause severe mood swings, and feeling irritable is also very common. A patient, loving partner who can give you plenty of hugs is definitely what the doctor orders here!

11. Loss of appetite, food cravings and aversion to certain foods
Pregnancy hormones play a big role here, but there’s also some truth in the theory that you crave what your body needs and are repulsed by what’s not good for you; which explains why regular coffee and alcohol drinkers often go off it as soon as they are pregnant. Whatever your cravings are, try to not give into them too often unless they are healthy foods, and try to stay away from those foods that make you feel ill. And although you’re experiencing loss of appetite, remember that your baby needs nutrients – which means that you have to carry on eating whether you like it or not.

12. Just “that” feeling
A mother’s intuition is more often than not proven correct. So if you think you might be pregnant, especially when experiencing a few of the pregnancy symptoms explained above, you are more than likely right!

The symptoms of pregnancy can very often be mistaken for the onset of premenstrual symptoms, as some of the early symptoms mimic these quite closely. Also, signs varies from woman to woman and you can never really be 100% sure of what’s going on until you have taken a home pregnancy test (or two). So run to the pharmacy, grab a couple of tests and confirm that feeling once and for all… Good luck!