Common early pregnancy symptoms, such as missing out periods, gentle breasts, morning sickness, and feeling exhausted all day long, are well-known early signs of pregnancy.1Foxcroft, K. F., Callaway, L. K., Byrne, N. M., & Webster, J. (2013, January 16) ) 'Development and validation of a pregnancy symptoms inventory' Source-PubMed
However, there are few lesser-known early pregnancy symptoms experienced by pregnant ladies during the 1st trimester. These symptoms may vary from person to person.
Let’s have a look at the top 12 less-known early pregnancy symptoms:-
Many women experience vaginal discharge in a typical day to day life; however, it is not related to pregnancy. Most pregnant women secrete white or yellow-colored sticky vaginal discharge during the 1st trimester or throughout pregnancy2Anderson, J. (2020, March 16) 'Early Pregnancy Diagnosis' Source-PubMed
During pregnancy, the cervix and vaginal walls become soft, and therefore, to prevent infections, vaginal discharge increases.
If a woman experiences smell, burning sensation, itching, greenish-yellow discharge, changes in discharge viscosity (too sticky or watery) in the vaginal discharge, then she should consult a gynecologist as this could be an indication of a probable infection3Spence, D., & Melville, C. (2007, December 01) 'Vaginal Discharge' Source-PubMed
When you wake up in the morning, you might feel a slight increase (half to one degree) in your body temperature, and it remains like this until the eight week of pregnancy4J;, H. T. (2011, April). 'Core body temperature and the thermoneutral zone: A longitudinal study of normal human pregnancy' Source-PubMed
However, keep an eye on your body temperature. If it increases beyond half to one degree, please consult your gynecologist.
Headache is caused due to hormonal changes and changes in the blood volume of a pregnant woman. Apart from these, there are some secondary reasons for headaches, like, lack of sleep, nausea, vomiting sensation, fatigue, fluctuations in the blood sugar level, hypertension, low blood pressure, sinus infection, migraine, cluster headache, tension headache, etc. Your gynecologist can help you with the exact reason5Negro, A., Delaruelle, Z., Ivanova, T. A., Khan, S., Ornello, R., Raffaelli, B., . . . European Headache Federation School of Advanced Studies (EHF-SAS). (2017, October 19) 'Headache and pregnancy: A systematic review' Source-PubMed
Any headache which spans over the second trimester (4th month onwards) should be evaluated as it could be a sign of pregnancy induced hypertension, which could be life threatening both for the mother and the baby if uncontrolled
There is an increase in the blood hormone called HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone), which increases the flow of blood in the kidney. This results in increased urine formation. Further, during pregnancy, the uterus increases in size, and since it’s next to the urinary bladder, it exerts pressure on the urinary bladder, and thereby, it increases the urge to urinate frequently6HE;, C. T. (n.d.). 'Changes in renal volume during normal pregnancy' Source-PubMed
Frequency of urination, if associated with burning, foul smell, or pain in the lower abdomen, could be a sign of urinary tract infection, and therefore should be reported to the gynecologist.
Some pregnant women also feel cramps on the sides of the lower abdomen. Since the uterus expands during the pregnancy, it exerts pressure on the muscles and ligaments. The abdominal pain may increase during coughing, sneezing, or changing positions while sleeping.
While cramps are common during pregnancy, one should let her gynecologist know about it. Sometimes there are serious reasons behind abdominal pain like urinary tract infection, ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption, preterm labor, miscarriage, preeclampsia, etc. To rule out the doubt, it becomes essential to consult your gynecologist before its too late7O;, K. C. (n.d.). 'Abdominal pain in pregnancy' Source-PubMed
During pregnancy, a woman may experience a sudden change in the hormone levels leading to an increase in the blood flow required for fetal development. This increase in blood flow leads to a decrease in blood pressure, also known as hypotension. Because of this, the woman might feel shaky or experience dizziness. It is commonly encountered while sitting down from a standing position or getting up from a lying position8Shen, M., Tan, H., Zhou, S., Smith, G. N., Walker, M. C., & Wen, S. W. (2017, July 24) 'Trajectory of blood pressure change during pregnancy and the role of pre-gravid blood pressure: A functional data analysis approach' Source-PubMed
Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can also make you feel dizzy in early pregnancy especially if you have a lot of nausea and vomiting. Its important to keep taking fluids like juices or lemonade and eat small portions of food every 2-3 hours.
But if you experience severe dizziness along with vaginal bleeding, then consult your gynecologist immediately. This could be a sign of tubal / ectopic pregnancy wherein the embryo attaches outside the uterus.9Daniilidis, A., Pantelis, A., Makris, V., Balaouras, D., & Vrachnis, N. (2014). 'A unique case of ruptured ectopic pregnancy in a patient with negative preg-nancy test - a case report and brief review of the literature.' Source-PubMed
Bowel movement slows down in pregnant women due to increased progesterone hormone and decreased motilin hormone. Since the transit time of the bowel movement increases, extra water is absorbed from the intestine, and as a result of which, the stools become dry and hence lead to constipation. Further, supplements like calcium and iron also lead to constipation during pregnancy10Bradley CS;Kennedy CM;Turcea AM;Rao SS;Nygaard IE;. (2007). 'Constipation in pregnancy: Prevalence, symptoms, and risk factors.' Source-PubMed
You should consult your gynecologist if you are feeling constipated. He/She can prescribe you stool softeners like lactulose, docusate sodium, which is considered safe to use in pregnancy. You should also add more fiber in your diet, drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly11Trottier, M., Erebara, A., & Bozzo, P. (2012, August) 'Treating constipation during pregnancy' Source-PubMed
Even though consumption of stool softeners is considered safe, however, it is strongly advised to consult your gynecologist before taking any medicine during pregnancy. Also, consult your gynecologist before doing the exercise.
Some women encounter minor bleeding or spots of blood early in the pregnancy. The color of the blood may be red, pink or brown. It can be a sign of implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus. It is prevalent in pregnant women. As per a research study12Harville, E., Wilcox, A., Baird, D., & Weinberg, C. (2003, September 01) 'Vaginal bleeding in very early pregnancy' Source around 9 percent of the women experience implantation bleeding at least once during the first eight months of pregnancy.
Since bleeding due to implantation is not the only reason for bleeding spots; therefore it is strongly advised to consult your gynecologist to rule out the possibility of irritation in the cervix, tubal/ectopic pregnancy, infection in the cervix, cervical polyp, molar pregnancy, missed abortion, or miscarriage.
Cough, Cold, and Flu are prevalent in pregnant women. Pregnancy affects the immunity of the body and thereby makes your body susceptible to cough, cold, and flu. Although the good news is that it does not affect the fetus13Murphy, Vanessa E, et al. “A Prospective Study of Respiratory Viral Infection in Pregnant Women with and without Asthma.” Source
If you are at risk of severe infection from flu, then consult your gynecologist immediately. Please do not take any medications without consulting your gynecologist, not even over the counter medicines.
Some infections like rubella and parvovirus B19 if occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy, may cause only mild flu-like symptoms like cold, fever, and muscle pain in the mother; however, there are high possibilities of it to cause congenital deformities in the baby. So cough, cold, and flu should not be taken lightly during pregnancy and should always be reported to your gynecologist so that it can be further evaluated, and if needed, appropriate action can be taken14Waring, G. J. (2018, April 02). "Parvovirus B19 infection: Timely diagnosis in pregnancy essential" Source-PubMed
Hormonal changes during pregnancy (increase in progesterone and relaxin) cause the gastrointestinal smooth muscle tissues to relax.
The esophagus is a muscular tube connecting the throat with the stomach. At the junction where the esophagus meets the stomach, there is a ring of muscles. Because of the increase in the levels of progestrone and relaxin, these muscles become relaxed. This leads to acid leaks into the esophagus from the stomach, resulting in acidity and chest burn in pregnant women15Vazquez, J. C. (2015, September 08). 'Heartburn in pregnancy' Source-PubMed
How to Manage Acidity During Pregnancy?
Chest burn and acidity are typical in pregnant women. The best way to minimize it is by eating food in small proportions, frequent meals, avoid spicy and junk food, and consume milk. It is also advised to let your gynecologist know about the symptoms so that, he/she can supplement the diet with prescription medicines too.
Mood swing is one of the most common signs of pregnancy due to increased estrogen and progesterone levels in the body. You may abnormally feel emotional and want to cry for no reason. Further, some women may experience anxiety, depression and irritability too16Tyrlik, M., Konecny, S., & Kukla, L. (2013, April). 'Predictors of pregnancy-related emotions' Source-PubMed
During pregnancy, due to an increase in the levels of estrogens and progesterone, a woman may experience a change in taste. This is also referred to as Dysgeusia, in which the mouth may taste metallic, foul, burnt, or salty. The easiest way to improve the taste of the mouth is by chewing gum17Kuga, M., Ikeda, M., Suzuki, K., & Takeuchi, S. (2009). 'Changes in Gustatory Sense During Pregnancy' Source
It is always wise to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Although it is vital to notice the signs of early pregnancy, it is even more important to consult your gynecologist as soon as you notice any of these symptoms to ensure healthy fetal growth.
- 1Foxcroft, K. F., Callaway, L. K., Byrne, N. M., & Webster, J. (2013, January 16).
Development and validation of a pregnancy symptoms inventory.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3599678/
- 2Anderson, J. (2020, March 16).
Early Pregnancy Diagnosis.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556135/
- 3Spence, D., & Melville, C. (2007, December 01).
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2099568/
- 4J;, H. T. (2011, April).
Core body temperature and the thermoneutral zone: A longitudinal study of normal human pregnancy.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21087419/
- 5Negro, A., Delaruelle, Z., Ivanova, T. A., Khan, S., Ornello, R., Raffaelli, B., . . . European Headache Federation School of Advanced Studies (EHF-SAS). (2017, October 19).
Headache and pregnancy: A systematic review.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5648730/
- 6HE;, C. T. (n.d.).
Changes in renal volume during normal pregnancy.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2520811/
- 7O;, K. C. (n.d.).
Abdominal pain in pregnancy.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7941766
- 8Shen, M., Tan, H., Zhou, S., Smith, G. N., Walker, M. C., & Wen, S. W. (2017, July 24).
Trajectory of blood pressure change during pregnancy and the role of pre-gravid blood pressure: A functional data analysis approach.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5524922/
- 9Daniilidis, A., Pantelis, A., Makris, V., Balaouras, D., & Vrachnis, N. (2014).
A unique case of ruptured ectopic pregnancy in a patient with negative preg-nancy test - a case report and brief review of the literature.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4309153/
- 10Bradley CS;Kennedy CM;Turcea AM;Rao SS;Nygaard IE;. (2007).
Constipation in pregnancy: Prevalence, symptoms, and risk factors.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18055731/
- 11Trottier, M., Erebara, A., & Bozzo, P. (2012, August).
Treating constipation during pregnancy.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418980
- 12Harville, E., Wilcox, A., Baird, D., & Weinberg, C. (2003, September 01).
Vaginal bleeding in very early pregnancy.
Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/18/9/1944/708284s
- 13Murphy, Vanessa E, et al.
“A Prospective Study of Respiratory Viral Infection in Pregnant Women with and without Asthma.”
Chest, The American College of Chest Physicians. Published by Elsevier Inc., Aug. 2013, Retrieved September 22, from 2020 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7107276/.
- 14Waring, G. J. (2018, April 02).
Parvovirus B19 infection: Timely diagnosis in pregnancy essential.
Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5960029/
- 15Vazquez, J. C. (2015, September 08).
Heartburn in pregnancy.
Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562453/
- 16Tyrlik, M., Konecny, S., & Kukla, L. (2013, April).
Predictors of pregnancy-related emotions.
Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601497/
- 17Kuga, M., Ikeda, M., Suzuki, K., & Takeuchi, S. (2009).
Changes in Gustatory Sense During Pregnancy.
Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00016480260046544