Pregnancy is a time of radical change in a woman’s whole body. The signs and symptoms of these changes can manifest themselves in many ways. A woman may experience one, few or all of the normal discomforts of pregnancy.
Breast tenderness or tingling – This may one of the first signs and symptoms of pregnancy or in subsequent pregnancies may not be very apparent. Either way the breasts will ready themselves for the job of providing nourishment for the new baby.
Abdominal Cramping or Backache – The enlarging uterus and stretching and growing round ligaments can cause cramping and pain along the sides of the abdomen and pain in the lower back. This usually does not last long and but can be very uncomfortable. It is not accompanied by any other symptoms and may be helped by rest or a warm bath
Frequent urination – Because the bladder is in such close proximity to the uterus, the additional bulk of the uterus pressing on the bladder (especially in the 1st and 3rd trimesters) can make frequent trips to the bathroom necessary. The increase in blood flow during pregnancy also makes kidneys produce more urine. Report symptoms of burning or pain at urination, or fever, to your care provider immediately as this can be signs of a UTI (urinary tract infection).
Fatigue – When you think about it, it would be very unusual for a pregnant woman not to be tired. The body is in a production mode that is not to be believed. It is making hormones, baby, placenta, and colostrum for the baby’s first feed. Let your fatigue be a signal to set rest as a top priority.
Constipation, Diarrhea, Bloating, Indigestion or Heartburn – These discomforts probably stem from the large production of pregnancy hormones and their effect of relaxing and slowing the entire gastrointestinal tract. These symptoms are very uncomfortable but may in turn make for better nutrient absorption for the baby.
Dizziness or Shortness of Breath – During the early weeks of pregnancy, you may find yourself gasping for air halfway up a staircase that you previously climbed two steps at a time. You may also find yourself dizzy and grabbing for something to hold on to the next time you get up rapidly. These symptoms are due to a circulatory system that is rapidly expanding without the fluid to fill it completely. This is why pregnant women are encouraged to drink plenty of extra fluid.
Headaches – In the first trimester, an increase in the incidence of headaches is common. This probably due to the fluid balance changes brought on by the increase of female hormones.
Nasal Stuffiness, Nose Bleeds – Again those pesky pregnancy hormones contribute to an increase of blood flow to the mucous membranes of the nose causing stuffiness and possibly post-nasal drainage.
Excessive Salivation – The saliva glands also step up production. This is often worse for those women experiencing nausea.
Food Aversions or Cravings – You used to like cauliflower but now the smell has you running for the bathroom or you have never really liked fruit but suddenly you are eating seven oranges a day. These pregnancy food cravings or aversions are perfectly normal and again are brought on by increasing hormones. If you are craving strange things like dirt, let your care provider know.
Mood Swings – “Wearing your heart on your sleeve” is certainly a phrase that is appropriate during pregnancy. Laughing one minute and crying the next and leaving your partner totally confused in the process, can be the reality that some women experience during pregnancy. Again, the stress of pregnancy combined with those wild hormonal fluctuations may keep your emotions just under the surface ready to spring forth at the next inopportune moment.