If you've ever thought that expecting a baby was 'smooth sailing', forget about it, as you will have to cope with many pregnancy symptoms.
When you become pregnant, your body turns into a 'baby-making machine', which, of course, entails both physical and emotional changes. We at Captain Mums aren't trying to back you down, but instead to let you know what to expect while waiting for your baby's arrival. And with that purpose in mind, we want to offer you the definitive guide on all pregnancy symptoms, divided into each trimester of pregnancy. If you want something more specific, you an also check our pregnancy symptoms week by week guide.
Are you ready to find out what may await you during the next few months? Let's get started on those pregnancy symptoms without further delay.
First trimester pregnancy symptoms
Oh, the first trimester! Your excitement as a pregnant newbie may get a little overshadowed by a long list of pregnancy symptoms that can haunt you in many different ways. Let's get to know them:
- Morning sickness: probably the most famous of all pregnancy symptoms! Up to 85% of pregnant women have to put up with nausea and vomiting early in their pregnancies. It strikes the most when you wake up in the morning, and that's where its name comes from, but it can hit you at any time of the day. Hormonal changes in your body are to blame when it comes to accounting for this queasiness.
- Fatigue: you will probably feel very tired, because of the hustle and bustle going on in your body. As a result, you'll find yourself sleeping a lot more than you've ever imagined, but that's a good sign since this is the best recipe for you right now. Take as many naps as you need!
- Dizziness: suffering from some dizzy spells is another possibility in the first trimester pregnancy symptoms, especially after eating or when getting on your feet straight away. These 'vertigos' are generally caused by blood pressure dropping all of a sudden.
- Headaches: the increased blood flow that your body will experience, along with drops in blood glucose, can result in severe headaches that usually affect the sides or the back of your head. They can make you miserable, so be ready to take action by doing physical exercise, having snacks throughout the day and ensuring the necessary resting time.
- Food cravings... and aversions: craving foods isn't a myth, but one of the real pregnancy symptoms. You may feel a strong desire to please your tummy with a variety of foods, some of which may be too fatty. You can indulge your eagerness and treat yourself once in a while, but remember to keep a balanced diet. On the contrary, you may be repelled by certain foods that you used to love but that now may trigger your morning sickness.
- Heightened sense of smell: it's also usual for you to have a sharpened sense of smell towards certain foods or odours that you would not normally feel. There's a theory that aims at this side effect as the natural way your body has to keep you from, for example, foods with natural toxins or high bacteria content while the embryo is developing.
- Frequent urination: when pregnant, you'll be told to drink between 8 to 12 glasses of water a day. Plus, your expanding uterus will start putting pressure on your bladder little by little, so it's not hard to predict what's going to happen: your visits to the bathroom, during day and night, will multiply!
- Acne: as your skin will produce extra oil during pregnancy, don't be surprised if you have acne breakouts. Don't scrub them, because that can exacerbate the problem.
- Swollen breasts: even though it's still early, your breasts are already turning into milk-suppliers for your little one thanks to the pregnancy hormones once again. Your bosoms will grow in size, but at the same time they'll feel tender and swollen, so you'll have to buy larger bras.
- Mood swings: acknowledging that you are pregnant and experiencing so many pregnancy symptoms can lead to ups and downs. You may jump from joy to sadness at the drop of a hat, but don't worry... it's normal!
Second trimester pregnancy symptoms
Past the first three months, some pregnancy symptoms will fade, whereas others may turn up. Roughly speaking, these are the typical second trimester pregnancy symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Abdominal pain: it's pretty normal to suffer from lower abdominal pain or stomach cramps, as your ligaments stretch out to host and support the growing baby bump. The discomfort can be mild or severe.
- Breathlessness: you may also experience shortness of breath when doing regular activities that, under normal circumstances, don't take much effort. This is the consequence of the expanding uterus crowding your lungs and making more difficult for air to flow in and out. Relax and take it easy unless you can handle it, in which case you should seek medical help.
- Skin changes: at this stage, you could experience some skin alterations, including darkened patches in your face and body, acne, stretch marks and general itchiness. It is during these days when the linea nigra may show up vertically on your belly.
- Heartburn and indigestion: hormonal changes combined with the relaxation of muscles in your digestive tract can lead to intestinal discomfort, along with heartburn, which feels like a burning pain in your throat, oesophagus and chest.
- Constipation: here we have another side effect caused by the growing uterus, which can pressure against the large intestine, making it harder for you to pass stool and leading to constipation and bloat.
- Sexual arousal: actually, one of the nicest pregnancy symptoms! In the second trimester of pregnancy, the production of oestrogen will be in overdrive, making you feel a lot more sexual. In fact, some women report having multiple orgasms for the first time coinciding with this pregnancy time.
- Pregnancy brain: although this name may sound a bit odd, you shouldn't forget it, and here's why; pregnancy or baby brain refers to the difficulties some pregnant women find when it comes to being focused. You may miss appointments, have a hard time remembering daily stuff and so on.
- Bleeding gums: pregnancy hormones can also cause swelling in your gums, which may feel extra sensitive and bleed, especially when brushing your teeth or using dental floss. If it gets too severe, visit your doctor.
- Foetal movement: not really one of the pregnancy symptoms, but definitely worth taking into consideration! Between 16 and 20 weeks pregnant, you'll start to feel 'signs of life' inside you, as your foetus is thriving and moving around.
Third trimester pregnancy symptoms
And we get to the third trimester, in which your body rules what you can or can't do. Your big bump will make you a little clumsy, but that won't be all. As you make it to the final lap, you'll notice other pregnancy symptoms. Both you and your baby are gearing up for birth, but what effects can that have on your body? Check out the usual third trimester pregnancy symptoms to figure it out:
- Extra fatigue: at this point, you may be carrying around 10 extra kilos and, also, your body feels cramped and strained due to the expanding uterus. That's why it's not surprising that you feel so tired all the time. Give yourself a break and remember that this is almost over!
- Back pain: this is probably one of the worst third trimester pregnancy symptoms. Back pain is very common late in pregnancy, because of the weight gained but also due to pregnancy hormones, which will make the ligaments of your body relax. That will put more stress and pressure on your joints and back muscles.
- Swollen feet: fluid retention in the lower part of your body can cause your feet, ankles and legs to be swollen these days. Such a puffiness can be accompanied by varicose veins, some of which may remain after giving birth.
- Braxton-Hicks contractions: these 'fake' contractions can occur by months eight or nine, and you need to learn how to distinguish them from 'real' contractions. The main difference is that Braxton-Hicks contractions are usually felt in the front of the abdomen and don't intensify when shifting positions. In comparison, labour contractions tend to start in the back before moving to the front, and its intensity can vary if you move around.
- Intense dreams: the emotional distress prior to birth can invade your dreams, which may become a little disturbing. Some mums report dreaming of losing their babies, failing at parenting or even about labour pain. Don't dig into them, as such dreams are just a reflection of your anxiety.
These are, pretty much, all the most common pregnancy symptoms (you can also read about the most unusual pregnancy symptoms). Though some may sound scary, remember that they may affect you in a different way, if they do so. However, it's important that you talk to your doctor to address any specific concerns about your personal situation. After all, you need to be aware of those symptoms that deserve special attention, so that you can avoid further complications.