There are certain signals that your body sends out immediately after conception indicating a pregnancy. Find out what these early signs and symptoms of pregnancy are and what to expect of them.
By Amrita Gracias
“Am I pregnant?”, “How can I know that I am pregnant?”, “What signs should I look out for to know that I can expect a visit from the stork?”, “When will I find out that I have conceived?” – do questions such as these fill your mind?
Well, it would help to know that your body actually begins sending out little signs and signals that you are pregnant just a few days after conception. While the pregnancy can be confirmed only four weeks after conception, there are some symptoms that you may begin to experience soon after, indicating some exciting news ahead for you! In fact, some of these symptoms can even begin to occur as early as one or two weeks after conception.
Do keep in mind, however, that these symptoms may vary for each woman, and that you may not experience all of them either. In fact, sometimes these indicators may be similar to those you usually feel before menstruation. Therefore, you may not actually recognise these as signs of pregnancy at all.
1. Tender breasts / sore nipples: You might first begin to notice changes to your breasts and nipples. The breasts begin to feel fuller, heavier, sore and more sensitive as well. The increase in sensitivity is due to the secretion of the oestrogen and progesterone hormones. The breasts also appear swollen as they gain fat and the milk ducts increase in size, causing them to sometimes feel even painful and heavy. The areola – the area around the nipple – also usually begins to darken because the pregnancy hormones activate the pigmentation cells in the skin.
2. Nausea: Nausea during pregnancy is commonly referred to as morning sickness, although it can occur at any time of the day or night. It usually ranges from slight feelings of sickness in the stomach to severe vomiting. Queasiness in the tummy can be felt as early as two weeks after conception. It is believed to be caused by the rising levels of oestrogen, which also slows down digestion. Pregnancy can also cause an aversion to certain smells, and this can also contribute to an uneasy feeling in the stomach.
3. Food aversions: In the early stages of pregnancy, it is common for you to have aversions to certain foods that you might otherwise eagerly dig into! Sometimes, even just the thought or smell of these foods can trigger a bout of nausea. Food aversions are linked to hormonal changes, and your senses of smell and taste are also extra receptive during the initial stages of pregnancy. The aversion usually happens with foods that have strong flavours and aromas. Although there is no actual cause for these feelings, it is believed to be the effects of the pregnancy hormones on the body.
4. Constipation: The increase in progesterone also results in food passing slowly through the intestines, leading to slow bowel movements and constipation. As the food stays longer in the bowels, water is absorbed back into the body, making it harder to pass stools. This also leads to bloating of the stomach. Moreover, the swelling of the uterus causes the intestinal muscles to relax, which in turn makes food and waste to move slowly through the system. Sometimes, slow digestive processes also cause mild indigestion and heartburn.
5. Frequent urination: In the days soon after conception you will begin to urinate quite often. This is because the uterus begins to swell, putting pressure on the bladder. Additionally, the extra blood flow to the kidneys, which begins immediately after conception, also causes more production of urine. Also, the increased blood circulation in the pelvis region can make you urinate more frequently.
6. Fatigue / Extreme tiredness: The increased secretion of progesterone and other hormones can make you feel extremely drowsy and tired. Your body is also pumping more blood to carry nutrients to the foetus, which can reduce your energy levels. Besides, the low blood sugar levels and low blood pressure during pregnancy can also cause lethargy and fatigue.
7. Light-headedness: Pregnancy causes the blood vessels to dilate and blood pressure to drop, which can make you feel a bit light-headed. Changes in the blood volume or low sugar during the initial period can also make you feel dizzy now and then. You can even feel a bit giddy when you suddenly change positions; for instance, when you quickly stand up after lying or sitting down.
8. Mood swings: As a result of the sudden rush of hormones during pregnancy, you are bound to feel extra emotional. You will find yourself increasingly sensitive and your moods may tend to fluctuate rather abruptly as well. Moreover, the fatigue that you may be experiencing can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. Besides, the discomfort owing to the sore breasts, constipation and bloating can also impact your mood.
9. Cramps: Post conception, when the fertilised egg is implanted onto the wall of the uterus, you may feel some cramps or pain in the tummy. This is usually due to the uterus swelling up and preparing to expand massively over the next nine months. Cramps can also occur when progesterone is released.
10. Missed period with bleeding or spotting: A missed period is perhaps the most obvious sign that you might be pregnant. However, you can experience some slight bleeding or spotting after conception, around the date your usual period is due. This is referred to as implantation bleeding and can occur about 6 to 12 days after the fertilisation of the egg. This can sometimes be accompanied by a whitish vaginal discharge, which occurs due to the thickening of the vaginal lining.
While these are the most common and usual signs that you can in fact be pregnant, it is always better to confirm the pregnancy using a home pregnancy kit or a routine hCG blood test, followed by a visit to a gynaecologist. These tests are usually recommended until a few days after the date of your missed period.
Validated by Padma Shri Dr Kamini A Rao, Medical Director at Milann – Centre for Reproductive Medicine (A Unit of BACC Healthcare Pvt Ltd).
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