What leads a woman to think she is pregnant? Those who are anxious for (or fearful of) a pregnancy may seize on any unusual feeling. Others who do not think about it and in whom pregnancy produces little disturbance may not realize they have ‘clicked’ until a relatively advanced stage. Pregnancy should be considered if one or more of the following symptoms occurs.
Missed periods (amenorrhoea). Although there are many reasons for missing a period, pregnancy should be one of the first to come to mind. Sometimes the period is not completely missed but may be late, with a light loss which does not last long. A slight loss or spotting is quite common at the time of the first missed period and may continue off and on for several weeks, to be followed by a perfectly normal pregnancy. Women who usually have irregular or infrequent periods may take some months to realize that they have stopped, especially when there are no other symptoms.
Nausea. Vomiting and upset stomach affect nearly 80 percent of pregnant women. They are usually more troublesome in the mornings and are therefore known as ‘morning sickness’. But they may occur at any time or be confined just to the evenings and be aggravated by cooking smells. Sickness usually starts in the ten days following the missed period but it may come on even before the period is due.
Breast changes. Particularly with first pregnancies the breasts may feel sore and full and also tingle or itch. The nipples and surrounding pigmerited areas (areolae) darken by eight weeks. Pimple-like elevations (Montgomery’s tubercles) appear on the areolae and extra veins may be noticeable leading away from them. By 12 weeks a small amount of watery yellowish fluid may be squeezed from the nipple.
Congestion. This is a dull dragging ache or heaviness in the lower abdomen or pelvis, which gives the feeling that a period is due but that it will not start. The feeling may persist well into the third month but it does not mean that a miscarriage is likely.
Moods. These may change unaccountably in early pregnancy and bouts of depression, listlessness, vagueness and irritability are quite common. Tears seem to well up and there is a sense of hopelessness at minor frustrations.