Every pregnancy is different because every woman's body is unique. This means symptoms will vary from person to person.
Your experience is unique, but there are common symptoms that women share. Your pregnancy might include all of them, just a few, or maybe none at all. Learning about your baby, your body, and what to expect is the first step to a happy and healthy 9 months.
Here are some common symptoms of pregnancy and tips for getting relief along the way:
1. Slight bleeding
As many as 25% of pregnant women may experience slight bleeding or spotting that is lighter in color than normal menstrual blood. This typically occurs at the time of implantation of the fertilized egg (about 6 to 12 days after conception) but is common in the first 12 weeks.
Care tip: Just remember that it's normal for slight bleeding to occur. Discuss this with your health care provider if you are unsure whether the bleeding seems normal or not.
2. Swollen breasts or nipples
Some pregnant women might experience tender, swollen breasts or nipples. Women may notice this symptom as early as 1 to 2 weeks after conception. Hormonal changes can make the breasts sore, irritated, heavy, or full.
Tips for relief:
- Wear breast pads in your bra to help shield your nipples from irritation.
- Sleep in your bra for extra support.
- Take a warm bath for relaxation and soothing.
Many women feel more tired in the first trimester because their bodies are producing more of a hormone called progesterone. In addition, during this time the body pumps more blood to carry nutrients to the baby. Pregnant women may notice fatigue as early as one week after conception.
Tips for dealing with tiredness:
- Take naps and listen to your body.
- Slow down your pace and activity levels.
- Ask for help from your partner, friends, and family.
- Get more sleep at night; go to bed earlier and sleep later if you can.
- Eat well. Get plenty of protein and nutrition to fuel your body.
- Snack on healthy foods throughout the day.
- Short walks or low-impact exercise can help.
The sudden rise of hormones may trigger headaches early on. Other factors like nutrition, diet, and lack of sleep may trigger headaches as well.
Tips for headache relief:
- Acetaminophen is safe to take as directed, but aspirin and ibuprofen, as well as most prescription migraine drugs, aren't recommended for pregnant women. Consult with your practitioner.
- Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.
- Prevent low blood sugar with snacks and small, frequent meals.
- Try relaxation techiques, such as yoga or meditation.
- Get a massage to release tension in the shoulders, neck, and back.
- Use a warm compress, like a rice bag, on your head and neck.
5. Nausea or vomiting
This symptom can start anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks after conception and can continue throughout. Commonly referred to as "morning sickness," it can actually occur at any time during the day.
Here are some recommended remedies to try at home, from AmericanPregnancy.org:
- Avoid foods and smells which trigger your nausea.
- Keep soda crackers by your bed and eat a couple before getting up. Allow some time for digestion and rise slowly once you are ready.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day instead of 3 big meals.
- Drink less water/fluids with your meals and instead drink them between meals.
- Eat more dry, plain foods such as white rice, dry toast, or a plain baked potato instead of richer, creamier foods.
- Suck on hard candy.
- Keep rooms well ventilated or have a fan close by for easier breathing. If neither of these is possible, take time to go outside and get some fresh air.
- Get plenty of rest. Listen to your body when you are feeling fatigued and try lying down.
- Snif ginger or lemons, or drink ginger ale or lemonade, which both help ease the feeling of nausea.
- Talk with your healthcare provider about the prenatal vitamins you are taking. Having too much iron may cause nausea and switching to a different vitamin could help.
- Ask your healthcare provider about taking a vitamin B-6 supplement.
Prescriptions: If your nausea is severe and home remedies do not provide relief, speak with your health care providers about prescriptions that are specifically designed for your nausea.
6. Mood swings
Hormonal changes often cause sharp mood swings. These can occur as early as a few weeks after conception.
The physical changes in your body, as well as the emotional changes, can cause stress, feelings of unattractiveness, being uncomfortable, and feeling out of control of your body. It's natural that all of these changes would cause mood swings.
Tips for dealing with mood swings:
- Take care of yourself. Many of the aforementioned tips about nutrition, rest, and exercise, apply here.
- Talk with your partner about how you're feeling and strengthen your relationship by spending time together.
- Make special time for feeling good and pampering yourself.
- Keep a journal to identify your feelings and mood swings.
- Talk it out with a friend or therapist.
- Manage stress and decompress regularly, rather than letting it build up.
Managing the emotional and physical experiences of being pregnant in the right way will help you feel your best throughout those short 9 months. Learning about your baby, your body, and what to expect is the first step to enjoying the time preparing for your little one.