Becoming a mom is an experience that is special and unique to each woman. Every woman will have different physical sensations and emotions during her pregnancy – from the moment she or he becomes pregnant, to the time the baby is born, and even after the baby is born.
It’s common to feel like you’re in the dark about what to expect during pregnancy, but that’s why it’s important to do your research and find out as much as you can about what to expect. By reading about other women’s experiences and learning about the full range of options, you can identify anything that may come as a surprise to you. If something unexpected happens, you will be less likely to panic.
First Signs That You Might Be Pregnant
If you suddenly feel as if you ate something bad and head to the emergency room, you may be surprised to find out that you’re leaving with a baby you didn’t know you were carrying. While this is very rare, there are usually many signs that tell you it’s time to take a blood test to see if you are pregnant.
The most common sign is a missed period. If your menstrual cycle is regular, and you suddenly miss a month, you should take an at-home pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant. Other signs of pregnancy include fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and mood swings. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult your doctor.
If you’re wondering whether you might be pregnant, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, sometimes an irregularity in your period doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pregnant. Second, if you’re taking an at-home pregnancy test, it may be too soon to tell for sure – you may want to wait another month or get a blood test done.
Cramping and spotty periods are also normal during implantation, so don’t worry if you experience either of those things. They don’t necessarily mean you’re miscarrying. In short, if you’re wondering if you might be pregnant, the best thing to do is wait a month or two and see how your body responds.
You may experience mood swings when you first become pregnant – like crying or getting angry for no reason. Even extreme happiness can occur because your hormones are all over the map. If you find yourself crying more than usual, it could be a sign that you’re pregnant!
Some of the common symptoms of pregnancy mimic your menstrual cycle symptoms. Swollen, tender breasts are a good example of this. You probably experience this a week before your period as part of your PMS symptoms, but it happens when you become pregnant, too.
Pregnancy Symptoms During the First Trimester
The first signs and symptoms of pregnancy, such as morning sickness, can occur throughout your first trimester. Though morning sickness may or may not happen to you, it’s important to know the other possible symptoms so that you can prepare yourself for them. You may initially think you have food poisoning, or that you are coming down with the flu, but in reality it’s just the beginning of a 9-month journey! Though it may not be the most pleasant experience, remember that it’s all part of the process of bringing a new life into the world.
There are different ways to alleviate morning sickness, depending on when you experience it throughout the day. If you find that you have it mostly in the mornings, keeping crackers by your bed to eat before you get up can help. You can also try using “seasick bands” on your wrists. If those don’t work, ask your doctor for advice on what medications he or she feels are suitable during pregnancy.
Some smells and foods may turn your stomach, even if they’re items you used to love or cravings you never had before. This is perfectly normal! Just listen to your body and give it what it wants.
You might also find yourself having to use the restroom more frequently. This is because your bladder will produce more urine, and you’ll need to empty it more often – both during the day and at night.
Extreme fatigue and dizziness are common during the first stage of pregnancy, as well as lightheadedness and fainting. If you’re feeling these symptoms, it’s best to sit down and not try to stand until the feeling passes.
Headaches are unfortunately a common occurrence during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you’ve never had to deal with them before, it may come as a bit of a shock to suddenly have them so frequently.
Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any medication for your headaches, as whatever you take will also affect your baby. It’s important not to over medicate yourself, or take the wrong kind of medication that could harm both you and your child.
The first trimester can be very draining – both emotionally and physically. Your body is going through so many changes, and it can be tough to keep up. But once this stage is over, things will start to look up in most cases.
Pregnancy Symptoms During the Second Trimester
The honeymoon period of pregnancy is when the majority of bad symptoms subside, and you start to feel fantastic! You may have heard about how a pregnant woman can start to “glow” during this time – this is when it happens.
You may also start to feel the baby flutter at this time. It feels like a butterfly is captured in a jar and its wings are softly fluttering around inside.
At first, you might wonder if your body is just having a simple spasm, but then you’ll get used to it and realize that it’s actually the baby moving around in there. Don’t worry if you don’t feel it all the time – it simply means the baby is still.
As you approach the last trimester, you might even experience your baby having a case of the hiccups. You’ll know because it’s a consistent blip as opposed to random movements in your womb.
During the second trimester, you may start to experience constipation. Some women do and some don’t, so if it’s something you’re struggling with, be sure to talk to your doctor about safe remedies. You don’t want to add hemorrhoids to your list of symptoms!
Around this time, you may also notice that your areolas are darkening. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Not everyone experiences this change, so if your areolas stay the same color, that’s totally fine too.
Your breasts and stomach will most likely grow during this time. And people will begin to realize you’re pregnant if they haven’t been already.
As your body expands, you might start noticing unsightly stretch marks appearing on your stomach, and sometimes in other areas like your upper thighs. You can use topical lotions or creams with vitamin E to help your skin maintain a flawless appearance.
Aside from the baby moving, you might also feel another type of symptom – false contractions known as Braxton Hicks. This doesn’t mean you’re going into labor. They’re not as strong and they’re inconsistent.
And you might begin to feel leg cramps – especially at night when you’re sleeping. This is common and painful, but it does go away. Some women drink milk or extra water to help alleviate this, but if one strikes, just massage it and wait for it to go away.
Pregnancy Symptoms During the Third Trimester
If you’re in your third trimester, you might be feeling more tired than usual. This is normal, as your body is going through a lot of changes. You might also notice a dark line on your stomach, known as the linea nigra. This is nothing to worry about, as it will disappear after you give birth.
At this stage in your pregnancy, you may find that your belly button is protruding more than usual. This is because your stomach is full of your growing baby. After you give birth, your belly button will go back to normal, so don’t worry about it now.
In addition to fatigue, you may also experience shortness of breath from time to time. This is partly due to tiredness, but also because the baby is taking up so much space in the womb during the final trimester!
Pregnancy can be tough on your body, leaving you feeling winded and tired easily. Just take your time and understand that you might be slower during this period.
Your weight will soar during this time because the baby is growing rapidly. This is normal, but you want to watch for extreme weight gain. Talk to your doctor about maintaining normal growth during the third trimester.
As your womb grows during pregnancy, it puts more strain on your back which can cause some discomfort. However, it’s important to make sure that any pain you’re experiencing isn’t coming from a bladder or kidney infection. During pregnancy, a burning sensation can usually be felt when urinating.
Heartburn is another symptom that a lot of women experience during pregnancy, but it’s most common during the last trimester. This is because the growing uterus pushes the stomach up, causing food to come back up.
This makes sleeping very uncomfortable. To fix this, try sleeping in an upright position during the last trimester, or elevating your head and chest a bit more than you used to.
Vaginal discharge is normal in some cases, but if you notice a lot of it, you should visit the doctor to make sure it is not leaking amniotic fluid.
Common Issues That Occur During Birth
Many women, especially those who are pregnant for the first time, worry that they will not be able to distinguish when they go into labor. They are also concerned about what is considered normal and what is not while they experience childbirth.
There are a few signs that may indicate that you are in labor, such as having consistent contractions. These contractions, unlike Braxton Hicks, last longer and do not go away completely after a short period of time. Instead, they come back at regular intervals, getting closer together as each hour passes.
Back pain during labor can sometimes be quite severe. Some women mistakenly believe that contractions are only felt in the front of the body where the womb is located, but in reality, you may also feel them deep in your lower back.
Another common symptom of labor is a white vaginal discharge known as the mucus plug. This is perfectly normal, and your doctor will be able to tell you whether it has passed. Some women notice this discharge while others do not.
Your water will break at some point – this is when the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus ruptures and the amniotic fluid leaks out. It might happen when you’re at home or out somewhere, or it could happen in the hospital after you’re feeling contractions and have been admitted.
Some doctors will go ahead and break your bag of water for you, helping to move labor along so that you can deliver your baby faster. It will feel like a warm gush of water, and it can be clear – but sometimes it’s not if there is meconium (fecal stool) in the amniotic fluid.
The duration of labor can range anywhere from a few hours to upwards of a day – every woman is different. That being said, labor has been known to go by faster the second or third time around, but this isn’t always the case. The mother’s body has already been through the motions before and generally knows what to expect.
The whole process can be very hard, which is why many hospitals do not allow patients to eat during labor. Ice chips are usually allowed if they feel sick.
Your pain relief options during labor will be discussed with you by your health care specialist prior to delivery, and may include an epidural. If you have any concerns about using these methods, be sure to voice them so that you can make the best decision for you and your baby.
Some women worry about having a bowel movement while pushing their baby out, but this does not always happen and if it does, you probably won’t know. The nurses and doctors are ready for it and will have it cleaned and gone before you even realize it happened.
After your baby is born, you’ll be so amazed by them that you may not even pay attention to the placenta being delivered. Once everything is said and done, you’ll need to relax and recover from the exhausting, yet satisfying nine-month journey to happiness.