Ah! The dreaded two-week wait. While this term is known to many women, it may actually be foreign to those who are not actively trying to conceive. So, what does the two-week wait actually mean? The term refers to the time between the big O, aka ovulation, and the next expected period. If a woman is successful in conceiving, she will have to wait approximately 14 days to see a visible positive on a home pregnancy test.
Whether a woman has tried to get pregnant without treatment or with fertility medication, the part of the cycle that involves waiting to hear the "news" may be exhausting. Each day a woman may be monitoring her body for signs of early pregnancy or for signs that her next expected period is about to arrive. It's truly an emotional rollercoaster. And, while many pregnancy tests are now able to detect up to six days before a woman’s missed period, the best (and most accurate) results will occur after the two-week wait when the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) - a hormone produced by the placenta after implantation - is most evident.
In most cases, a woman’s pregnancy can be more easily confirmed after the two-week wait, but that doesn’t mean she won’t feel early pregnancy symptoms. That’s right! Pregnancy symptoms can be felt the moment conception happens. Aside from women reporting “they just know they are pregnant,” they can actually experience very early symptoms as well. And, it makes perfectly normal sense. Think about it: from the moment of conception, a woman’s body will begin to undergo major physical changes in preparation for a healthy 40-week pregnancy.
So, with that being said, let’s take a look at some common symptoms a woman may experience during the two-week wait.
Mild cramps are a normal part of early pregnancy and are linked to the normal physical changes a woman’s body goes through in preparation for carrying her baby. Believe it or not, this cramping can be felt just a few days after conception. Many woman have reported mild twinges on one or both sides just a few days after conception, signaling the very first sign of pregnancy. Some woman may even get cramps with a little spotting when the embryo implants itself into the wall of the uterus.
When it comes to cramping in early pregnancy, one concern many woman have is that cramping is a sign of miscarriage. However, according to parents.com, cramping is not usually a sign of miscarriage. Miscarriages usually occur when there is a chromosomal abnormal development in an egg or embryo, in which the body responds by eliminating the pregnancy. Cramping during a miscarriage is actually caused when blood and tissue irritates the uterus, naturally causing it to contract.
14Tender Or Swollen Breasts
Tender or swollen breasts is a completely normal part of pregnancy, and in most cases, will be one of the first signs that detect pregnancy - even before a home pregnancy test can. For many women, putting on their bra may feel a little different than usual. Not only will a woman feel a tender, heavy-feeling in her breasts, but she may also notice darkening of the areolas and even more pronounced veins on her chest.
This tenderness and swelling usually begins during the first two weeks of conception, which is why a woman may know she is pregnant before actually seeing that positive. While breast tenderness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, it can last the entire pregnancy as hormone levels continue rising. The best way to deal with tender, swollen breasts is by wearing a supportive bra to help ease discomfort. A woman may even want to wear this supportive bra to bed (if need be).
If a woman is feeling increasingly tired and has had unprotected sex within the last 14 days, she could very well be pregnant. That’s right! Fatigue is particularly common during the first trimester and tends to start within 12-14 days of conception. While most women will notice less fatigue in the second trimester, it tends to return in late pregnancy. In some cases, however, a woman may feel tired throughout her entire pregnancy.
Generally speaking, the first trimester is when a mother is likely the sleepiest she will ever be during her pregnancy. This is because her body is going through a significant amount of psychical changes – something she may not be yet used to. Hormonal changes such as the production of hCG, increased progesterone, and increased estrogen, not to mention the increased blood flow to carry nutrients to the placenta, can certainly prompt a woman to stay in bed a little longer than usual.
Just days after conception, a woman may notice the need to urinate more frequently. This new feeling is completely normal and will usually begin 10-14 days after conception thanks to the pregnancy hormone hCG. Because this hormone is made by cells formed in the placenta, which nourishes the egg after it has been fertilized and becomes attached to the uterine wall, it increases blood flow to the kidneys, helping them efficiently flush out any waste from both the mother’s and baby’s body. This results in more frequent urination on the mother’s part, as her body is internally preparing for pregnancy.
Additionally, a growing uterus – yes, even as early as two weeks after conception – will begin to put some pressure on the mother’s bladder, leaving less available space for urine thus bringing forth more frequent trips to the ladies room. Frequent urination will also continue throughout a woman's pregnancy, as her baby continues to grow.
Because a woman will experience a surge of hormones and an increase in blood volume during the first trimester, she will have more frequent headaches that can start during the two-week wait. Moreover, these headaches could be further provoked by stress, poor posture, extreme fatigue or dehydration, but whatever the case, they are sure to cause some unneeded aggravation.
If a woman is experiencing frequent headaches and may suspect she is pregnant, she can alleviate the pain by:
- Cold compress with a cold cloth or a frozen bag of peas
- Tylenol for pain relief (Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories are not safe during pregnancy)
- Remain hydrated at all times
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Pay attention to posture
- Get enough sleep
- Take a cold shower to stimulate and constrict the blood vessels
- Massage the head using hair-washing motion, to work directly on the blood vessels
- Acupuncture and acupressure
Though food aversions do not usually appear until week five of pregnancy, some women have reported strange cravings within days of conception. It’s true! If a woman has recently had unprotected sex and is beginning to crave certain foods over others, there’s a possibility that she could be pregnant.
Not only are food aversions a sign of early pregnancy, but they will also continue to affect a woman’s appetite throughout her pregnancy. Why? Both pregnancy hormones and morning sickness can be directly linked to these strange cravings or aversions. In fact, according to study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, both nausea and food aversions will begin at the same time in pregnancy for the majority of women. So, for some women, this could be during the two week wait, and for others, it could be closer to week five or six of pregnancy.
Noticing some back up in the bathroom department? Expecting mothers are likely to get constipated during the two-week wait. Though mothers will notice more constipation in the late second and third trimesters, they may also notice it very early on – as early as within two weeks of conception.
There are many reasons as to why constipation could occur during this two-week wait:
- Slower digestion caused by the hormone progesterone
- Increased water absorption in the large intestines
- Pressure of the uterus on the rectum (more commonly seen in the second and third trimester)
- Iron supplements or prenatal vitamins (many woman actively trying to conceive will take a prenatal vitamin prior to conception, which could cause early constipation)
Luckily though, constipation (in any stage of a woman’s pregnancy) may be eased or prevented by eating fibre rich foods, eating smaller, more frequent meals, drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day, and exercising regularly.
Dreaming vividly in the early stages of pregnancy is very common. An expecting mother may see a baby in her dream, or it may even be an irrational, clear, or powerful dream that has nothing to do with babies. Whatever the case may be, vivid dreams can occur in early pregnancy – even as early as in the first two weeks of conception.
In most cases, the changes in a pregnant woman’s hormones are what bring on this dreaming, but it could also be linked to the fact that pregnant women need to sleep more. Think about it: when a woman sleeps more, she will also dream more.
According to WebMD, women tend to dream about gardens, fruits, or flowers in the first trimester, and there are often images of water, as the womb begins to gather amniotic fluid. In the second trimester, dreams will gear more towards fetal development and a woman may see small animals, or images that represent small babies. In the third trimester, dreams tend to be more focused on the baby’s physical traits. For example, a baby may tell the mother his name, or an expecting mother may dream about her baby’s gender.
7Heightened Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
Many woman may use a basal thermometer to track their first morning temperature for ovulation, but what they may not know is that it can also be used to track pregnancy. For those unfamiliar as to what basal body temperature (BBT) is, it refers to is the lowest body temperature attained during rest. Basal body temperature is usually estimated by a temperature measurement immediately after awakening and before actually getting out of bed, or performing any type of physical activity.
Just after conception, a woman’s basal body temperature will rise to about one degree higher than norma, and it will stay elevated throughout her entire pregnancy. Though not a telltale sign of pregnancy (body temperature can rise for various reasons, not just pregnancy), it could give a woman some advance knowledge as to whether she is pregnant before actually receiving a positive on a home pregnancy test.
The moment conception happens, a woman’s body will begin to go through physical changes that she may immediately notice. That’s why if a woman is experiencing back pain during the two-week wait, she may be pregnant. While annoying, back pain is another common early pregnancy symptom that can in fact proceed into the second and third trimester.
In pregnancy, back pain occurs as the uterus expands, which can actually start doing so as soon as conception happens. An expanding uterus will shift a woman’s center of gravity, weakening and stretching out the abdominal muscles, and therefore affecting her posture. Plus, as pregnancy progresses and the baby grows, a mother will be carrying extra weight, which means more work as well as increased stress on the back muscles.
There are many ways an expecting mother can deal with backaches:
- Pay attention to posture
- Sleep on side
- Lift objects properly by squatting and lifting, instead of bending and lifting
- Stay active
- Stretch properly and frequently
It’s quite normal for an expecting mother to have sudden and unpredictable mood swings. A woman may find herself giggling one minute, and the crying for no apparent reason the next. It’s also quite normal to become very easily irritated, and nothing anyone can say or do will seem to help.
One of the main reasons for a woman’s mood swings, is again, the change in hormone levels. For example, during conception, the amount of estrogen and progesterone in the body increases, which is why mood swings may begin to occur during the two-week wait. In fact, many women have reported mood swings as one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Other women, on the other hand, may link mood swings to their upcoming period and may not even relate them to early pregnancy.
In later pregnancy, mood swings could also be related to the sudden overwhelming feeling of meeting baby.
In fact, common worries in pregnancy that can also trigger mood swings include:
- Parenting fear
- Financial fear
- Body changing fear
- Labour and delivery fear
- Marriage or relationship stress
4Heightened Sense Of Smell
It’s not uncommon for a woman’s sense of smell the change during the two-week wait. Whether she smells food, drinks, or other people that become less (or more) appealing, this heighted sense is surely an early sign of pregnancy.
As with most of these early pregnancy symptoms mentioned, when it comes to a heightened sense of smell, a woman can blame her pregnancy hormones. In the case of smell sensitivity, estrogen can make every scent wreak havoc on those nostrils. In fact, almost every pregnant woman will notice a change in her sense of smell during pregnancy. Some women will notice it more than others, and this sensitivity to smell may or may not be a direct culprit for nausea and morning sickness.
The best way to deal with this heightened sense of smell is to try to avoid scents that could trigger nausea. Some strategies to try are:
- Freshen up by leaving windows and doors open to banish musty smells
- Keep clean and wash clothes more often than usual
- Use lightly scented toiletries, cleaning products, etc.
At the moment an egg is successfully fertilized by a sperm, the embryo begins to develop and sends out signals to a woman’s body to prepare her for pregnancy. Anywhere from six to 12 days after fertilization, the embryo will move down the mother’s fallopian tubes and into the uterus where it will implant itself for the next nine months.
During this implantation stage, a woman may notice some light spotting. Why? When the embryo implants in the uterus, it can intrude on the tiny blood vessels in the spot that it attaches to. Since implantation bleeding often occurs before a positive can be detected on a pregnancy test, it can be hard to know whether this spotting is an early sign of pregnancy or just a normal symptom that leads to aunt flo. Consequently, about 30 percent of pregnant woman will experience slight spotting during implantation that will likely arrive earlier than the expected monthly period (usually around five to ten days after conception and during the two-week wait).
While hormonal changes can take some credit for pregnancy related nausea, the exact causes of morning sickness are still unknown. Pregnancy nausea is believed to be caused by:
- Estrogen levels - estrogen can be 100 times higher during pregnancy.
- Progesterone levels - high levels of progesterone are known to relax the stomach and intestines, resulting in excess stomach acids.
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) - some experts suggest there may be a link between hCG and morning sickness.
- Sense of smell - during pregnancy, there may be an increase in sensitivity to odors, which might trigger increased nausea.
For some women, nausea won’t hit until they are around six weeks pregnant, but for others, it may start during the two-week wait. Pregnancy nausea (with or without vomiting) is commonly referred to morning sickness, however, it can hit at any time of the day. Morning, afternoon, or evening.
The good news is that most pregnant women with nausea feel complete relief by the beginning of the second trimester. For others, it may be the first half of their second trimester for the queasiness to ease up. And, there are a lucky few who escape nausea altogether.
During the two-week wait, a woman may notice that she is having more trouble than usual buttoning up her jeans. And, while bloating can be directly linked to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, it can also be an early sign of pregnancy. Early pregnancy bloat may be hard to distinguish from pre-period bloat, but it’s something many woman experience during this time and continuing on during the first trimester of pregnancy.
What causes this early pregnancy bloat? The hormone progesterone – a female hormone produced by the ovaries during ovulation. Progesterone also helps prepare the lining of the uterus to receive the egg if it becomes fertilized by a sperm. This hormone, highly evident during the first trimester of pregnancy, will slow down digestion, giving the nutrients from the foods eaten more time to enter into the bloodstream and reach the embryo thus causing more frequent and possibly uncomfortable bloating.
Sources: Parents.com, NCBI, BabyCentre.co.uk, WedMd.com, Parenting.com
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