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Pregnancy: the early signs

Even before you miss a period, right from the moment of conception, your body starts to undergo changes.

28 JUNE 2010

Some women know immediately; others take a little longer to tune in and recognise the signs. But right from the start, there are little changes in your body that let you know you might be pregnant. It's not always easy in the very first stages of pregnancy to be certain whether it's just a slight hormonal imbalance or if you should start preparing for a new arrival, but will you recognise the clues your body gives you?

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  • Breast changes and discomfort. Without doubt, one of the earliest and most obvious symptoms of pregnancy is an alteration in breast size. It won't be a dramatic change at this stage, but you may notice that your bra seems a little tighter than usual. Your breasts may also be slightly tender or sore. A change in the colour of the areola, or the appearance of fine veining are also common signs that may clue you in to your state.
  • Tiredness. Do you fall into bed exhausted each night although you haven't changed your routine? Don't worry: general fatigue is a common consequence of hormonal changes occurring in the body during the first trimester – the first three months of pregnancy.
  • Nausea. It sounds like a cliche, but morning sickness is one of the surest symptoms for detecting a possible pregnancy and it's unlikely to stop until the second trimester. That said, “morning sickness” may not be the best name for it: during the first six weeks you're likely to feel sick at any time of day.
  • Headaches, backache and cramps. The headaches are due to hormone changes, while backache is caused by the muscles of the lower back relaxing slightly as the body gains weight and the centre of gravity changes. Cramps tend to be similar to those associated with premenstrual syndrome and are an indication that the uterus is changing to adapt to the coming baby.
  • Mood swings. You may wake up feeling angry only to find yourself weeping into your cornflakes shortly afterwards; then maybe you're perfectly chirpy again by coffee time. No, you're not going crazy: it's the hormones again, undergoing a silent revolution during the early weeks of pregnancy and incidentally setting you off on a roller coaster of emotions. Relax: it's only a phase.
  • Sensitivity to smells. Just like a new Marvel Comics superhero, you suddenly notice even the slightest scent or smell. You probably haven't just acquired a superpower, it's just one more of those early warning signs of pregnancy.
So, if you're tired, your head aches and the fact you can smell the kitchen bin from the bedroom is driving you crazy, maybe you should drop into the chemist's for a pregnancy test.

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