Understanding the Signs of Pregnancy

Keeping a record of your monthly menstruation helps with early diagnosis of any abnormalitiesMost young mothers-to-be are often familiar with common signs of pregnancy.

Missed period, morning sickness, breast swelling and tenderness, fatigue and a few others are some signs women are familiar to. But what do they mean? Why do they happen?

Missed period – this is one of the most common signs which a woman would relate to the possibility of her being pregnant.  Menstruation is the shedding of the inner walls of the womb when there is no fertilization. When shedding does not occur, this means that the womb needs to maintain its thickened inner wall to support the fertilized egg. Unless irregular, most woman would expect that she’s pregnant a month or so after her supposed menstruation.

Morning sickness and tiredness– nausea and vomiting makes one weak. In early pregnancy, this happens most possibly because of pregnancy hormones. As these hormones lessen the movement of the stomach and intestines, future mothers often feel like vomiting and have less appetite to eat. This is usually managed by eating regularly and not skipping meals. Your gynae may recommend vitamins such as B6 which is relieves nausea as well as stress. Ginger is also proven scientifically to reduce vomiting. Morning sickness normally occurs in the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy).

Breast swelling – prepares the breasts for breastfeeding. In early stages, the breasts especially around the nipples, feel slightly tender and painful. Nipples darken in colour and you may notice small goosebump-like structures around the nipple area known asMontgomerytubercules. Besides darkening of the nipples, you may also notice a vertical dark line on your abdomen, also known as ‘linea nigra’. Women with darker complexion may experience general darkening of her skin.

Headaches – this is usually noticed later in the first trimester. Increased blood pressure is the main culprit. When one is pregnant, it is a signal for the body to pump more blood. The increase in pressure is necessary to push blood to the forming placenta. Usually, the pressure stabilizes later in the second trimester and headaches subside by then. It will be a problem if it doesn’t and a doctor should be noted. Having a good rest, short naps and avoiding noisy places is advisable. If you are trying to cease coffee consumption, it’s better to do it slowly. A sudden withdrawal from coffee or any other caffeine products will cause headaches. Close monitoring of your blood pressure throughout your pregnancy is highly recommended. In all cases of headache, never skip your meals as it will aggravate the pain.

Frequent urination – You may notice that your trips to the bathroom get more frequent. The new ‘pregnancy hormones’ cause this. When one is pregnant, the body pushes more blood to the pelvic area and therefore, more goes to the urinary system than usual. Since you are carrying another being in your body, more waste are produced as a result and more urine has to be excreted. In late pregnancy, the weight of the womb presses onto the urinary bladder which may cause frequent trips to the bathroom. In all cases, never keep yourself from drinking more water. This can aggravate urinary tract infections.

Vaginal spotting somewhere around your expected day of menstruation is alarming and confusing for first-time mothers-to-be. While it negates the fact that you’re pregnant, it also is, in fact, one of the signs of pregnancy. It all depends on its character. Normal menstrual blood on its first few days is dark red, happens around the time where your menses usually start, increasing in amount by the day. ‘Implantation bleeding’ during pregnancy happens a week or a few days before your expected period. When the fertilized egg is implanted in the wall of the womb, some blood are released and seen as vaginal spotting. But when this comes with sharp pain in the abdomen, it may be a sign of ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo is implanted elsewhere besides the womb). Immediately consult a doctor or call for emergency when this happens.

For many women, pregnancy is an exciting and a wonderful experience. Regular check-ups at your gynae can give you peace of mind and thus enhance your pregnancy experience.

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  1. hello, I’m 17 me and my bf had sex on the 28th of Jan and 4th of February. My last period was on Jan 17 and I’m 2 weeks late, no vomiting, no food cravings, no nausea, no penetration (he said he didn’t and pulled it out but i’m scared of precum) I do have a sensitive throat and it does hurts right now, i am stressed due to school. I’ve also had smelly vagina on the day I was supposed to have my period but all I had was white discharge and I still have white discharge but it’s not thick. am I pregnant?

    • Hi,
      As your period is late, you should get a pregnancy test to tell whether or not you are pregnant. A strange smell from the vagina as well as discharge might indicate an infection – for this, you should come down to the clinic to consult a doctor and determine if you need treatment.

  2. Hi there
    I had my period dec 5 and I was due for my next period Jan 2. But I haven’t gotten my period and I’m now 13 days late. My husband has a high count of white blood cells which the dr told him it would be hard for him to get me pregnant. We been having sex without protection all of dec and Jan. I went for an ultrasound on Jan 12 and the technician said my walls are thickened and that she sees a small black dot but it’s too small to tell. Could I be pregant even tho my husband has that issue or should I worry that something is wrong ?

  3. Hi doc
    Had my period on the 4th of dec 2016 finished on the 8,my next period is due on tge first of this month but nothing i am 8 days late and been having abdominal cramps on and off feeling tired and weak,did HPT but came out negative. Am i pregnant??

  4. I had my period on the 1st of October after which I had unprotected sex on the 9th of same month. Took postinor 2 some hours later. Had brown discharge 3-4days later and got a painless period on the 18th of October that lasted 4days just like my normal period.im due today(18th Nov) but no period. Though I had crazy cramps like 3 days already

    • my last period was dec 31..i had unprotected sex with my fiance on January 9 and 12…on the 26 of january i started having menstrual cramps +my breast is tender and my nipple hurt a bit..my next period suppose to be 28 of january…am i pregnant?

      • In my opinion your symptoms may be related to premenstrual syndrome. I recommend you to perform a urine pregnancy test to confirm as you have had unprotected sex with your fiancée.

  5. Rea Rose

    Dear Doctors,

    After my period ended on 28/9, I had unprotected sex a few times, but always withdrawing in advance. On 29/9, I took Postinor 2 as I was getting worried about pre-cum. On 4/10, I had bleeding from the effects of Postinor 2, which continued like regular menstruation, with less cramps. On 6/10, I noticed a back pain which continued until today 8/10. I have not injured myself nor does my stomach hurt. Is this a normal effect of Postinor 2?

    Thank you,
    Rea Rose

    • I have not heard of Postinor 2 causing back pain. You should see your doctor and find out what is causing your back pain.

  6. I didn’t have intercourse after the 12th, and been feeling funning. Thank you

  7. I had my period on 12th and 13th of this month not heavy and third day was nothing. Normally l do 3days in which l did preg test on 5day came out negative. Since march it as not been regular but been trying to preg. Does it mean l am pregnant doctor? Up till now, l feel sick, like vomiting but not vomiting, headache, back pain, tiredness. Since then l haven’t done any test. Thanks as l will be waiting to hear from u.

    • Sorry but I find your post rather confusing. You said you had your period on the 13th of this month. Today is the 23rd which is only 10 days after your period. And you said you did a pregnancy test on day 5 which was only 8 days ago and was negative. So why would you think you are pregnant? Nothing makes sense.

  8. Hi there doc, ive never been on BC. My fiance and i have been together 4 years and weve been sexually active for awhile. However, weve had our pregnancy scares in the past but we never concived. Ive always had irregular periods my whole life. I havent had a period in 4 months. This is slightly weird because my periods for the last year have been on time each month however since August they havnt been. It could be stress right? Anyhow igave this uncomfortable ache in my lower stomach that puts pressure on my cervix and hips, and i have been really gassy.? Ive been under alot of stress lately though

  9. I had unprotected sex but e didn’t release in me,d next day I started having cramps ,two days later I had abdominal pain and had a small amount of a white milky discharge..cud I b possibly be pregnant?? Pls.thanks

    • More likely you have an infection. The symptoms of pregnancy do not happen so quickly after sex. It takes time for the sperm to fertilize the egg and time for the fetus to float to the womb to implant and more time for the pregnancy to grow, increase hormone production and cause symptoms.

  10. Hey Dr I last see my date on August the 9 from then I didn’t c any date September I buy home pregnancy test it come back negative and October buy other one it come back negative I even went for soner but it’s still negative what is the problem

    • Dr Justin Sim

      I don’t understand the question. Are you saying that you have missed your menses?

  11. My last period was at 30 Sept and the last day was on 6 oct. I was fingered with semen on 7 Oct. I took postinor 2 on 8 oct and the bleeding occur 14 to 18 oct after taking postinor 2. May I know roughly when should I test for pregnancy using the pregnancy test kit if my period are not regular? And if I had period on Nov does it mean I am not pregnant or could the period or bleeding is caused by HIV? I have read online that hiv caused virginal bleeding. Confused.

    Please help me. Thank you.

    Thank you.

  12. My last period was at 30 Sept and the last day was on 6 oct. I was fingered with semen on 7 Oct. I took postinor 2 on 8 oct and the bleeding occur 14 to 18 oct after taking postinor 2. May I know roughly when should I test for pregnancy if my period are not regular? And if I had period on Nov does it mean I am not pregnant or could the period or bleeding is caused by HIV? I have read online that hiv caused virginal bleeding. Confused.

    Please help me. Thank you.

    Thank you.

  13. Hello doctor…..i did D&C operation on 11th of September and i saw my period on 6th of October……..after my period day anytime i urinate a drop of of blood will drop on my pant.its happenned for several days….. I have my last sex on 2nd of November and it was unprotected bt my boyfrnd did release inside me….i have been expecting my period 6th of November and nw am 5days late of period…i do have chest ache,stomach ache,tiredness,milky discharge from my vagina …i have done urine test nd its comeout negative…does that means am pregnant coz am worried ….

    • Pregnancy is the commonest cause of a delayed period. Home pregnancy test kits may not be accurate until your period is 2 weeks late. So you may be pregnant.

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