Everyone’s heard of the classic first signs of pregnancy: you miss a period, your breasts feel tender, you’re tired and fatigued all of the time, and you feel nauseous. While those tell-tale signs can help determine whether you’re pregnant, there are some early pregnancy symptoms no one talks about.
When it comes to being pregnant, the best thing you can do is to learn to expect the unexpected. Your entire prenatal experience will be different from anyone else’s, so don’t automatically switch into your mom mode and worry if you experience symptoms you weren’t expecting.
Most early pregnancy symptoms start occurring when you’re 6-8 weeks pregnant. Any of these following lesser-known symptoms could be clear indicators that you’re expecting!
Cramps and PMS Symptoms
Most people know not getting your period is a sign you could be pregnant, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience symptoms that resemble PMS. In fact, they can throw you off, causing you to think you’re about to get your period. Some PMS-like symptoms that could be signs of pregnancy include the following:
- Mood swings
Obviously, if you truly are pregnant, these symptoms won’t eventually lead to a period. Blood increases in volume during the first few weeks of pregnancy, which contributes to a lot of muscle aches and headaches. Be sure to drink a lot of water and talk to your doctor about taking acetaminophen for the pain.
Women go through a variety of physical changes during pregnancy. Varicose veins don’t occur during every pregnancy, but for some women, not knowing what they are can cause alarm.
Varicose veins occur when your growing uterus presses against the inferior vena cava. The higher volume of blood also puts more pressure on your veins. Though varicose veins are typically harmless, they can cause itchiness and discomfort because they often stick out from the skin.
They can happen anywhere, though the arms and legs are the most common locations. You’ll notice them by their dark blue color that may look somewhat swollen or even twisted as they spread out under your skin.
Aversions to Food
There are plenty of stereotypes about pregnant women craving certain foods, and there is truth to that. Your body needs more nutrients when you’re pregnant and also requires more energy because you’re likely to be more fatigued than usual. Despite that, you should beware of the “eating for two” myth. In the second and third trimester, you only need to increase your caloric intake by anywhere from 350-450 calories.
Another sign of pregnancy is actually an aversion to some foods – even ones you may typically love! When you feel nauseated, you become hypersensitive to certain smells. If something is cooking or you smell food nearby, and it makes you feel like you might lose it, it’s best to stay away from those foods for the time being.
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Women have a complicated relationship with migraines. More than 25% of women experience migraines during their lifetimes, and hormonal changes are one of the biggest triggers for migraines. Just like migraines themselves, the effects of pregnancy on a woman’s migraines can be inconsistent and unpredictable.
Research shows that just 10% of pregnant women experience migraines without an aura. If your migraines are accompanied by an aura, they might become stronger and more frequent thanks to the increased estrogen being produced by your body — this same side effect occurs if you are taking an estrogen-based contraceptive pill.
On the opposite side of the migraine coin, you could be one of the 50-80% of migraine patients whose headaches become less frequent during pregnancy. If your headaches do become more severe during pregnancy, taking prescription medication for them must be closely overseen by a doctor, just like any other prescription. Many of the newest prescription migraine meds are still so new that human trials have not yet yielded enough data to determine full side effects.
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You probably would never have guessed this, but getting pregnant might also mean getting a cold—sort of. Called pregnancy rhinitis, this congestion is caused by the increased blood flow throughout your body to support your growing fetus. The mucous membranes in your nose become inflamed, leading to your nose becoming plugged similarly to when you have a cold.
This is one of the common reasons you might struggle to sleep while pregnant — when you lie down, your rhinitis naturally becomes worse. Over-the-counter meds are not going to help you with your pregnancy rhinitis since it is not caused by a virus or bacteria. Instead, use methods such as hot showers, steam facials, and neti pot cleanses.
Should I be worried about these pregnancy symptoms?
You may never experience any of these symptoms while pregnant. Or you may experience all of them. Everybody is different. The key to taking care of yourself and your baby while you are pregnant is education and preparation. To continue our desire to help educate you regarding symptoms of pregnancy, both peri- and postpartum, please join us for the second part in this series, detailing postpartum symptoms and how to treat them.
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Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book.
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