What most women take as a first sign of early pregnancy is a missed period but truthfully, there are a few other signs that can be detected earlier than a missed period that could mean you’re pregnant. Keep in mind that these symptoms are generally counted on as reliable indicators of pregnancy but are in no way a guarantee—it’s always best to get tested by your physician. So what are some very early pregnancy signs and symptoms?
Especially if they’ve been trying to conceive, women can become understandably obsessed with recognizing early pregnancy signs and symptoms. We all know that you wait until you’ve missed a period, take a test, and you will know for sure. But what about the other little signs that women seem to know, but the books rarely mention? They are called ‘soft signs of pregnancy’ or ‘signs of implantation’ and are hardly discussed. Once, when I was a week late, somebody asked me – do you feel pregnant? Pardon? Feel?
There aren’t many scarier experiences in a woman’s life than when she is thinking she may be having a miscarriage. Statistics tell us that around 50% of pregnancies do end in miscarriages, but most of those women have no idea they were even pregnant in the first place. The majority of miscarriages happen in the first two weeks after conception, and the woman thinks she is just having a slightly heavier menstrual cycle than normal. However, when miscarriage happens further along in the pregnancy it can be truly devastating, especially to those parents who have planned and perhaps waited for years for their baby. Many women will ask – how can I tell if I have miscarried?
Some scientists say that implantation is when and where pregnancy begins. What is implantation and are there any common signs of implantation? Implantation occurs when the egg that has been fertilized by the sperm attaches to the inner wall of the uterus about 7-9 days after conception. Having traveled down the fallopian tube and divided several times, the fertilized zygote has reached its final destination in the warm and nourishing uterine lining. Now it can receive the oxygen and nutrients from mom to begin to grow and develop into the beautiful baby it will become. Implantation must occur for pregnancy to continue.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in antioxidants and high in nutrients is important, but there is more to it than that – it can boost fertility. Surprisingly, it’s not just what you eat, but when you eat it. Our bodies have different nutritional needs over the course of the month, so it makes sense that there is a link between conception and food.
Oh dear. Spotting before your period – what does it mean? Your period is not due for at least another week, but you have found a little blood or pink or brown discharge that isn’t followed by normal flow bleeding. This is spotting and tends to always lead to your heart skipping a beat.
That moment when you think you might be pregnant. I remember both very clearly – trekking to the store for a pregnancy test, then trekking back to the store for a more expensive pregnancy test just to be sure!
So much stuff happens while you’re pregnant and after you give birth, sometimes it feels as though aliens have taken over your body! Listed below are a few common pregnancy and postpartum conditions, and foods that help to alleviate the symptoms.
Constipation: this uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy and birth is all too common. Make sure you seek out fiber rich foods and whole grains. Oats also have a mild laxative effect.
Include more quality omega 3 oils to help lubricate the digestive system. Foods like flax, fish, raw nuts and seeds, as well as fiber rich foods, legumes, fruits (such as pears, blueberries, prunes, figs), and veggies like cauliflower. Olives are also known to help stimulate peristalsis and parsnips helps to improve bowel function.
Low energy/fatigue: whether you’re pregnant or a run-off-your feet parent, chances are you’re tired to minimize these effects, be sure you consume complete proteins either from animal products (fish, eggs or a combination of vegetarian sources, like whole grains combined with beans or legumes), ion rich foods including dark green leafy veggies as well as avocados (which are known to prevent anemia) and beets (which act as a blood builder), and complex carbs, and finally whole grains are great too – but make sure to prepare them properly by soaking the grains to eliminate phytic acid, which inhibits nutrient absorption.
Lack of breast milk: quinoa helps stimulate milk flow, as well as dark green leafy vegetables. Avoid sage, as it slows down milk production.
Postpartum depression: fluctuating hormones and lack of sleep can cause a roller coaster of emotions that all mothers can relate to, but sometimes these lows can be longer lasting and more intense then the regular ‘baby blues’. It’s always important to talk to your doctor if you suspect you may be experiencing post partum depression. It is also known that increasing foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as nuts, seeds, fish (mackerel) also helps to balance hormones. Increase intake of foods containing B vitamins like nutritional yeast, eggs, whole grains and green leafy vegetables. Foods with slow release sugars such as whole grains, legumes and starchy vegetables will help ensure that your sugar levels are not constantly peaking and crashing.
Morning sickness: who ever named it ‘morning sickness’ clearly was never pregnant. For many people, ginger can alleviate the symptoms, it may also help to increase vitamin B6 rich foods – such as millet, buckwheat and oats.
Tissue healing: omega 3 rich foods (salmon, walnuts and flax seeds) which are anti-inflammatory can help with tissue healing after giving birth. It’s best to avoid the night shade family (peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes etc.) which are pro-inflammatory. Also do your best to include more antioxidant rich foods (cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower etc., whole grains, berries etc.) in your diet.
Colicky baby: when you’re breastfeeding, the foods you consume go right through to your breast milk and can affect your baby. Avoid gas-promoting foods like garlic, onions, beans, legumes, and vegetables from the cruciferous broccoli, cauliflower family. Brown rice helps with colic when given to both baby (as rice water) and mother.
Heartburn: this is a common affliction amongst pregnant ladies, even those who had not experienced it before. Try to increase consumption of complex carbs, which are less likely to increase acidity. Heartburn is caused when stomach acid is washed back into the esophagus. eat foods like broccoli, brown rice, winter squash, and potatoes. Also include foods rich in vitamin B5, which helps break down fats, carbs and proteins, and helps to convert them into useable compounds. Examples of vitamin B5 rich foods include avocados, yogurt, sunflower seeds, salmon & mushrooms. Digestive enzymes can also be quite helpful, both papaya and pineapple are full of enzymes which will help aide digestion. Be sure to eat small meals throughout the day and be sure to chew thoroughly.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell your period apart from early pregnancy signs. I remember with both pregnancies asking myself “am I getting my period or could I be pregnant?” A lot of women confuse the symptoms with each other. Some of the early signs of pregnancy include: fatigue, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, sore breasts, and headaches. These are just a few of the early pregnancy symptoms. However each woman is different and the pregnancy symptoms may vary.
Early pregnancy symptoms are also similar to those of side effects of getting your period. But how do you tell if you’re pregnant and it’s not just your period? If your period is a few days late I wouldn’t get too worried just yet. While your period can be on time for many years, it can also regulate now and then. If your period is 7 or more days late, you can always try a pregnancy test. It’s usually difficult to even catch a pregnancy with a test at the very early weeks, so if it’s negative your first time and your period still hasn’t come, I would wait a week or so then try the test again. Cramping, hot flashes, headaches, and light spotting can very well just be your period.
Some pregnant women do notice a little light spotting around the time of their period, however you can also experience light spotting during the time of your period even when you are not pregnant. If you have more than a few of these symptoms, I would take a pregnancy test right away.
– Sore breasts
– Lack of energy
– 5-7 days or later period
– Cravings or food aversions
– Mood swings
– Elevated body temperature
– Sensitivity to smells
– Dizziness or fainting
All of these signs can point to pregnancy. (We also have some ‘Very Early Pregnancy Signs‘ if you are interested). If you feel other symptoms such as pelvic or abdominal pain, or lightheadedness, call your practitioner immediately. These can be signs of ectopic pregnancy.
When you are trying to conceive, there are so many myths. A few of our favourites include elevating your hips after intercourse, making love while standing, or drinking various elixirs. What we do know, is that conception can only occur around the time of ovulation. Ovulation is when an egg is released, and for most women, happens approximately two weeks after the start day of your last menstrual cycle.
A Diet for Conception
If you are trying to conceive, taking a folic acid supplement is a must. Cutting down on alcoholic beverages, caffeine and processed foods will also help your body to function more efficiently. Being at or around your ideal weight will also help. Fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, and whole grains will make the entire body healthier in preparation for conceiving a baby. Not only does an egg have to be released, but the fluid around the egg must be amenable to sperm. The healthier the woman is, the more chance there is of this mucous being the proper texture and acidity so that the sperm can travel and survive for as long as possible. As women age, the window in which this fluid is amenable, and her eggs are all healthy is decreased. This is why conception at increased ages can be more difficult.
Best Positions to Conceive
We won’t get into positions suggested to choose the gender of your child in this article, but will say that any position that allows the sperm the best chance of travelling to the egg is best. Orgasm also assists with the drawing of the sperm into the uterus. This is not to say that you must be upside down in order to conceive, but you will have a better chance. Sperm are made to swim, so we also don’t want to suggest that jumping up and down after intercourse will prevent pregnancy!
What the Man Can Do
Yes, he can do more than, well, the obvious. Studies have shown that a man’s health affects his sperm, just as a woman’s affects her body. See our article on preparing for pregnancy and preparing to conceive for some extra tips.
Whatever your stage of trying to conceive, it is always a great idea to seek the advice of your physician or midwife and be completely honest with questions and concerns. Good luck!!
Q. Should I see my Doctor for a “trying” visit?
If you are not one of the lucky few who feels great during the first trimester, read on. As hormones shift in early pregnancy, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting can wreak havoc on daily life. You can try the preggo pops, tums and dry crackers, but there are a few other options as well. Motherisk is run through Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and provides excellent support for pregnancy and parenting. The phenomenal Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP) forum is great.
A few select tips: