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Quick GuideStages of Pregnancy: See the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Trimesters of Mom & Baby
13 signs and symptoms of early pregnancy
A number of symptoms begin in the early stages of pregnancy:
- Missed menstrual period: A missed menstrual period is the hallmark symptom of pregnancy, and menstruation is absent throughout the pregnancy. Sometimes, the mild cramping and spotting experienced at the time of implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus (see later) can be mistaken for a menstrual period. Women whose menstrual cycles are irregular may also not immediately notice the absence of a menstrual period.
- Implantation bleeding or cramping: Mild bleeding or spotting may occur when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining, anywhere from 6 to 12 days after fertilization. Mild cramping can also occur at this time.
- Vaginal discharge: Some women may notice a thick, milky discharge from the vagina in early pregnancy. This occurs in the first weeks of pregnancy as the vaginal walls thicken. This discharge may occur throughout the pregnancy. If there is an unpleasant odor associated with the discharge, or if it is associated with burning and itching, this is a sign of a yeast or bacterial infection. You should contact your health care professional if this occurs.
- Breast changes: Many women experience changes in the breasts as early as the first weeks of pregnancy. These changes can be felt as soreness, tenderness, heaviness, fullness, or a tingling sensation. The discomfort typically decreases after several weeks.
- Darkening of the areola: The areola, or area around the nipple, may darken in color.
- Fatigue While this symptom is very nonspecific and may be related to numerous factors, pregnant women often describe feelings of fatigue from the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
- Morning sickness: This is actually a misnomer because the nausea of pregnancy can occur at any time of day. Some women never experience this symptom, while others have severe nausea. Its most typical onset is between the 2nd and 8th weeks of pregnancy. Most women experience relief from the symptoms around the 13th or 14th week, but others may have nausea persistent throughout the pregnancy.
- Increased urination: Some women will have more frequent urination due to hormonal changes, starting about the 6th to 8th week. If other symptoms occur, such as burning on urination, you should see your health care professional to make sure you are not suffering from a urinary tract infection.
- Constipation: Hormone levels can also cause some women to have constipation in early pregnancy.
- Headaches: Headaches, as well, may be related to changing hormone levels and may occur throughout pregnancy.
- Food cravings/aversions: Cravings may begin in early pregnancy and may last throughout the pregnancy. Likewise, food aversions (feeling nausea or distaste for a particular food) can also occur.
- Back pain: Often considered more a symptom of late pregnancy, low back pain can actually begin in the early stages of pregnancy. Women can experience some degree of back pain throughout pregnancy.
- Mood changes: Mood swings are relatively common during the first trimester of pregnancy due to changing hormone levels. They may also be related to stress or other factors.