Most women have a general idea of what pregnancy will be like – how they would feel, what they would do, whom they would turn to, among other things – and all too often they expect that they would immediately figure out that they are with child if one too many symptoms show up. After all, how hard could it be to figure out if a woman is pregnant or not? There are the common signs such as morning sickness (which often happens at any time during the day, and not exclusively during mornings, as many would believe), nausea and vomiting, increased urination, and of course, the all-too-known-symptom that often presses the woman to grab that stick and check if those two lines show up: the missed period.
Contrary to popular belief, there is more to pregnancy than just these symptoms that people often see on television and in the movies. Signs may vary for a myriad of women, depending on their bodies; what happens to this woman’s body during her first trimester may not happen to her friend when she, too, becomes a mother. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. Symptoms also vary from pregnancy to pregnancy for the same woman.
What many do not know is that aside from the usual symptoms, there are also those that come up during a woman’s first trimester that she may not realize are her body’s way of telling her that there is a life inside of her. Below is a list of symptoms that women often do not realize are actually pregnancy indicators.
12 Getting Winded
More often than not, when working (or even non-working) women begin breathing uneasily, they associate this with dehydration or probably even just a lack of good old rest and relaxation. After all, getting breathless does not seem like a very unusual event, does it? In fact, shortness of breath is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms. The increased levels of progesterone in the woman’s body causes her difficulty in breathing as the body tries to adapt to the changes in hormonal levels during the first trimester.
This difficulty may sometimes be taxing, especially when it comes to the point when the pregnant woman can’t even finish a sentence without taking in a deep breath. This could also worry some mothers who think that this may mean a lack of oxygen in their or their child’s lungs. Fortunately, if it comes in gradually, even as it worsens, shortness of breath is something that one should not be worried about. On the other hand, if it happens so suddenly and too often, then this is something that may warrant medical attention.
11 Massive Hunger And Unquenchable Thirst
Food is good, and it gets even better with an increase in appetite. When this happens, most people would think nothing of it because, well, food can really be irresistible. But who could have known that this could also be a sign that a woman is pregnant? It is not uncommon for pregnant women to feel hungry all the time during her first trimester. In fact, most forums will reveal how many of these women feel the insatiable desire to keep munching on something every few hours, even after having a hearty meal or two.
On the other hand, the 40 percent increase in blood volume could also mean having unquenchable thirst as more water is needed for the additional blood. Aside from feeling the need to keep on chewing, women in their first trimester would almost always feel the need to hydrate as well. This thirst may not be completely satisfied, but quenching it temporarily may be done by drinking plenty of water and fruit juices, and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
10 Repulsed By Certain Foods
Of the many ironies that pregnancy brings, food aversion probably tops the list. Though pangs of hunger come up every few hours, what makes things more difficult for mom-to-be is the aversions to certain foods that used to be eaten on a regular basis. This may not seem out of the ordinary even for regular folks who do not carry a life inside of them, but may also be a symptom that can barely be noticed.
There has not been proof of where these aversions come from, but there have been many theories circulating this topic. One is the change in hormonal levels, as where many other pregnancy symptoms stem from. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or HCG levels are at their highest during the first trimester, which causes nausea, vomiting, and most probably, food aversion as well.
Some also say that this could be the body’s natural way of steering away from certain foods that may be harmful to the baby, as the first trimester is the most crucial developmental stage. To support this theory, it has been reported that women who have experienced morning sickness and food aversions during their pregnancy have been less prone to premature babies, stillbirths, and miscarriages.
9 Bleeding From Unexpected Places
Some women may have gone through that horrible experience of conversing with people and suddenly having to stop short in the middle of her sentence as she feels something wet about to drip from her nose. While some may think that this could be associated with their high blood pressure, medications, or excessive alcohol intake, this could also mean that one should expect exciting times ahead because of an addition to the family.
As blood levels increase to accommodate the nutrients needed for the baby, pregnancy may also be responsible for blood vessels in the nose to expand. The increased blood flow may at times put too much pressure on these vessels, causing them to rupture, hence resulting in a nosebleed. This may be prevented by drinking plenty of water to keep the mucous membranes hydrated, therefore avoiding any potentially embarrassing moments with the nose all throughout the woman’s pregnancy.
8 Superpower Smell
There may be a time when a woman suddenly realizes that her sense of smell is actually pretty impressive. Who else could have smelled that bucket of chicken inside the house from the sidewalk? Unfortunately, not to burst anyone’s bubble, but more often than not, this could be a superpower acquired only after a woman has conceived, and not an old super ability that has only surfaced recently.
Most women experience this heightened sense of smell during their first trimester, which may be associated with morning sickness and food aversions. This may explain a woman’s sudden repulsion for the scent of grilled pork, and maybe even ice cream! The culprit is once again the hormonal changes happening inside the pregnant woman’s body. One way to remedy this seemingly shallow, yet often extremely bothersome symptom is to simply avoid all strong odors, and maybe even keep an air freshener handy at all times.
7 New Gag Reflex
One weird symptom that may not seem like a sign of pregnancy is the gag reflex a pregnant woman feels while brushing her teeth. She may not associate this with her pregnancy, but this may be considered as one of the body’s many defense mechanisms to help protect the baby. As the woman may not have an idea of her situation yet during the first couple of months of her pregnancy, her everyday habits still remain normal. To avoid anything that may be detrimental to the fetus, the body adapts by having certain changes that may initially not be noticeable.
When brushing, people tend to scrape out every single corner of the mouth with the brush. During the first trimester, pregnant women may feel a need to retch whenever they brush the inner part of their mouth. This may be avoided by replacing her regular toothbrush with a toddler’s, as the head is smaller, which may be accommodated well by the adjusting body.
6 The World Starts To Look A Little Different
Contrary to popular belief, changes in vision are not only caused by old age and the abuse of one’s eyesight. Quite surprisingly, pregnancy may also cause dry eyes, blurred vision, and other changes in the woman’s eyesight.
Fluid retention is commonplace in most pregnant women, and a side effect could be the change in thickness and shape of the cornea. This is responsible for the blurry and distorted vision that pregnant women may be experiencing, although these often go away after she gives birth.
There is basically nothing worrisome about this, but it is always best to check with the doctor to ensure that everything is running normally. There may be other factors to consider that could cause these changes in vision, one of which is high sugar levels in the body. Pregnant women are more prone to a temporary form of diabetes called gestational diabetes, and the high sugar levels that damage the blood vessels supplying a woman’s retina may cause the vision changes. Should this be the case, the pregnant woman must keep track of her sugar levels and maintain a healthy and balanced diet which involves less or no sugar at all.
5 Feel Like You Have A Perpetual Cold
It is a well-known fact that pregnant women are more prone to illnesses due to a weakened immune system. The body does this so as to prevent itself from fighting off the baby, which is somewhat a foreign agent inside a woman’s body. So that cold that may have been bothersome for weeks now? It might not just be a common cold, but may actually also be a symptom of pregnancy.
One other possible purpose of the woman’s weakening immune system during pregnancy is to keep her physically active and extra careful. When a person begins to realise that he or she is more prone to getting sick, the person makes an effort to avoid catching an illness at all costs and resorts to regular exercise and a balanced diet, among many other things. A pregnant woman, whether she knows that she is with child or not, tends to do the same.
When the colds do come, though, the best way to treat this is through water therapy. Pregnant women are limited to acetaminophen when it comes to medicines, but it is always better to take the natural course when treating an illness to prevent any damage to the baby.
4 Hair Isn't What It Used To Be
Working too much may take its toll on a woman’s vanity at times, as she may come to neglect her aesthetic appearance in order to attend to more important matters. So it does not seem out of the ordinary for her looks to eventually appear a little more haggard than usual – this may just be due to an increase in stress levels and workload. But there are more ways than one to achieve this not-so-desired look.
When people speak of pregnancy symptoms in relation to physical appearance, people often picture a woman with glowing skin and healthy hair. Unfortunately, this only applies to some and quite paradoxically, the opposite applies to most pregnant women. Hormonal fluctuations are to be blamed once again: the increase in androgens (or sex hormones) may enlarge the woman’s sebaceous glands, causing an increase in the production of sebum, an oily substance in the skin and can lead to acne.
Changes in the body depend on each woman, though, so there may also be a chance for her estrogen levels to increase, causing her hair to appear fuller and thicker and less likely to fall out. There is not much one can do to avoid this, but to keep remembering that this will all subside after pregnancy when the hormonal levels return to normal.
3 Falling Asleep Anywhere
Many women nowadays spend much of their time working – be it in the office, with one of their hobbies, or even at home as they prepare a comfortable abode for when her significant other gets home from work and her children from school. So it comes as no surprise when she feels as if she has been overworking herself, and drowsiness normalizes as the days go by. What comes as a surprise, though, is that this may also be an indicator that she has a little angel inside of her.
During the first trimester, many hormonal changes happen, and this includes the body producing more blood than usual to provide nutrients for the baby, thus causing a sense of fatigue and sleepiness. Aside from shortness of breath, the increase in progesterone levels also causes one to feel sleepy.
There is nothing to worry about in the increase of hormonal levels, though, so long as stress levels do not increase along with them. Eventually, the tiredness and sleepiness will wear off and the little angel that comes with them will make all these symptoms worth it.
2 Strange Dreams That You Remember All Day
One symptom few people ever advise pregnant women to expect are strange dreams. During the first trimester, the overflow of emotions and hormones may produce different dreams that a woman may remember vividly upon waking up. These strange dreams may include sex, random strange objects appearing in places where they shouldn’t be, as well as talking inanimate objects, among others. The dreams may take on different forms, as they reflect the woman’s emotions about her pregnancy.
Since most women feel a range of emotions from anxiety to excitement, especially during her first trimester, there will be more factors that could keep her waking up frequently at night (this, in addition to the frequent urination, backaches, cramps, and other symptoms of pregnancy). Sleeping is a cycle which begins with drowsiness, light sleep, then rapid eye movement or REM – the phase when a person experiences dreaming, and often the phase when a pregnant woman’s sleep is interrupted. Waking up from REM may help with remembering one’s dreams, and repeatedly doing so may cause more vivid dreams that the pregnant woman remembers as she wakes.
1 Change In Libido
Probably the most ironic symptom of all is the changes in libido, the very reason for the pregnancy in the first place. It may not seem like a curious thing to the woman, but her partner may be wondering why she suddenly has an increased – or decreased – sex drive.
Once again, as with many other symptoms during a woman’s pregnancy, hormones are the main culprits; but the additional blood flow in the breasts and genitals during her first trimester may also increase sensitivity in these parts, leading to a dramatic increase in a woman’s sex drive. The fluctuation of these hormones may also make the woman even more emotional, craving for more cuddles and intimacy from her partner.
On the other hand, a woman may also feel turned off by the idea of intimacy during her first few weeks of pregnancy caused paradoxically by the same thing: hormones. She may begin feeling self-doubt, fatigue, or even just like she doesn’t want to be intimate for no particular reason at all. There is no way around this but for the couple to converse with each other and help each other with the challenges that come with pregnancy and having a baby. Besides, after all has been said and done, these pregnancy challenges will all be worth it once the parents see their little angel for the first time.