You go through various physical, physiological, hormonal, and emotional changes during pregnancy. These changes are unique to a pregnancy and affect each organ of your body. Some of the early changes like breast tenderness may indicate that you are pregnant. Every pregnancy is different, so it’s normal if you experience some of these symptoms earlier or later than the other moms.
What week do pregnancy symptoms start?
You may start having early signs of pregnancy like breast tenderness, heightened sense of smell, and fatigue during week four of pregnancy. But most women experience early symptoms one week later.
How does your lower stomach feel in early pregnancy?
You may experience stomach pain or mild abdominal cramps now and then. It would be best if you didn’t worry about them. These are usually caused by constipation, wind, or stretched ligaments because of a growing womb. But if you experience severe or continuous abdominal pain that is not going away or is associated with other symptoms like vaginal bleeding, you must see your doctor.
Symptoms of pregnancy week by week
The intensity and duration of symptoms may also vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. Here’s a quick view of all the symptoms of pregnancy week by week.
Your pregnancy weeks are counted from the first day of your last menstrual cycle. So actually, during the first week, you are not pregnant yet. Instead, you have your regular monthly periods and associated symptoms like abdominal cramping, mood changes, etc.
Your body is getting ready for ovulation (releasing a mature egg from your ovary). Usually, ovulation happens on day 14 of your cycle, but it may occur slightly before or after, depending on your menstrual cycle length. An ovulation predictor kit can help you figure out days when you have the highest chance of conceiving within your menstrual cycle.
Some ovulation symptoms include ovulation pain (mild lower abdominal pain), breast pain, or a slight rise in basal body temperature at the time of ovulation.
When the egg is released, fertilization occurs within 24 hours if the egg cell meets a sperm cell—if you had unprotected sex on that day or in the past few days.
During the third week, the fertilized egg (zygote) reaches the uterus and gets embedded in the inner lining of your womb. This process is called implantation. You may experience mild vaginal spotting, also known as implantation bleeding and lower abdominal pain cramping.
Rarely does the zygote gets implanted at the wrong place, like in fallopian tubes—ectopic pregnancy. It could be potentially life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. So if you experience severe pain and bleeding, immediately consult your doctor because it could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy.
You may not notice any symptoms in the first 4 weeks of pregnancy. You may not know that you are pregnant till now, but if you’ve been trying to conceive, it’s always better to:
- Start taking folic acid tabs (reduce the risk of neural tube defects in baby)
- Avoid taking vitamin A-containing supplements (they are harmful to developing fetus)
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
This is when you may miss your period and start thinking that you may be pregnant. Get your pregnancy confirmed by urine and after taking the pregnancy test, arrange for your first prenatal appointment with your doctor or prenatal care team.
It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions during pregnancy. You may also start feeling lethargic and sleepy. So take more rest.
Morning sickness may start during this week. Although it’s called morning sickness, nausea and vomiting can occur any time of the day or night.
Your breast might feel sore and heavy. You are feeling tired and may need to pee more often than usual. Symptoms of morning sickness may also get intense.
Ginger water may help reduce nausea. Keep yourself hydrated.
In addition to all the symptoms described above, you may also start experiencing hypersalivation (excessive production of saliva), food aversions, and pregnancy cravings.
Some women may also have bleeding or sore gums. So take care of your oral hygiene.
You may find yourself going through an emotional roller coaster. You feel sad, and the next moment you feel happy. These emotional changes are because of pregnancy hormones, so don’t worry or feel ashamed or guilty for feeling this way. Always take care of your mental health during pregnancy.
It’s normal to have increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy. But if the discharge smells bad or is associated with soreness and itching, tell your ob-gyn because it could be a sign of vaginal infection and requires evaluation.
Your breast size has also increased, so wear a supportive bra.
Headache is prevalent in the first trimester because of hormonal shifts. So take care of your sleep, hydration, and prenatal diet to prevent and relieve mild headaches.
As blood flow increases because of hormones, you may notice that your skin starts glowing. But skin changes vary from pregnancy to pregnancy.
Constipation is quite common in pregnancy and could make you feel uncomfortable. Eat a balanced and nutritious prenatal diet rich in fiber.
Stay active and well hydrated.
This is the last week of your first trimester. You’ll probably start feeling better now if you’ve been exhausted and drained because of morning sickness. But in some women, morning sickness continues throughout pregnancy.
You’ll notice a small bump in your lower abdomen as your womb grows out of your pelvis.
You are in your second trimester of pregnancy now. Many women find this trimester better and easier than the first one. You’ll start feeling energetic and experience fewer mood swings. Your appetite will also increase. How much weight you should put on during pregnancy depends on your pre-pregnancy weight.
You may have backache or pelvic pain in pregnancy. Your growing womb and hormonal changes affect the ligaments of your body which result in strain on your back and imbalance in pelvic bones.
You may find it a little bit difficult to concentrate on things. Complaining of forgetfulness is also fairly common. This brain fog experienced by some women is called momnesia or pregnancy brain and is associated with physiological changes in the body, psychological conditions, brain structure, and pregnancy hormones,
You may experience skin darkening in different parts of your body like the neck, armpits, inner thighs, areola, and face. The extent of this discoloration depends on your complexion, as it is less common in women with fair skin. This discoloration usually fades slowly after delivery.
You might notice quickening (baby movements) around this time. But if it’s your first pregnancy, you may feel the first movement between 18 to 20 weeks.
Your growing bump looks more prominent now. Because of stretched ligaments, you may experience sharp pain on one side of your tummy, sometimes radiating to the leg.
If you’re experiencing severe or continuous pelvic girdle pain, discuss it with your doctor; better to get early treatment.
You may develop a dark brown line (linea nigra) running down the middle of your tummy. This pigmentation is normal and goes away slowly after delivery.
You may experience heartburn and constipation during the second trimester because of the growing womb and hormonal changes in your gut and sphincters.
At first, you may feel kicking as fluttering or bubbling in your stomach. But later on, you can easily recognize the movements.
You may find that your hair looks thicker and shinier because normal hair loss slows down during pregnancy.
You’ll start looking pregnant as your womb is growing quickly now. You can feel your womb has reached your belly button.
Your appetite has increased; stick to a healthy, well-balanced diet.
You may get stretch marks on your tummy, breast, and thighs. They usually become noticeable around 22 to 24 weeks. Though there is no definite treatment for these marks, we recommend keeping your skin moisturized. These stretch marks fade away gradually after delivery.
Tiredness and sleep deprivation are common in pregnancy. Listen to your body and take a rest. You can use pregnancy pillows to support your growing tummy while sleeping.
You may still be dealing with second-trimester symptoms like heartburn, constipation, tiredness, forgetfulness, leg cramps, backaches, etc.
Consult your doctor if you have pain when you pee because it could signify a urinary tract infection.
You may have slightly swollen feet and hands. It’s because of water retention, and usually, there is nothing to worry about. Home remedies for swollen feet include:
- Raising them on a chair or pillow
- Drinking plenty of water
- Doing gentle exercise to improve blood flow
Mention any swelling to your ob-gyn, so they can rule out a condition called preeclampsia.
You may develop piles, which can happen to anyone. These are swellings with blood vessels inside or around your bottom (anus). Co-existing constipation can aggravate the condition, so take a fiber-rich diet.
Nose bleeding is quite common because of pregnancy hormones.
You may also notice that you leak pee while sneezing and coughing. It’s because pregnancy weakens the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen these muscles.
It’s the start of your third trimester. Mild itching is pretty common during pregnancy and gets better with self-care. But if you have intense itching, it could signify a pregnancy-related liver disease called obstetric cholestasis, which requires early diagnosis and management.
You’ll experience more aches and pains during the third trimester. Some women may find it difficult to do daily chores because of pelvic girdle pain. Don’t hesitate to discuss these problems with your doctor.
You may find it hard to sleep comfortably because of the growing womb, body aches, or leg cramps.
You may also notice thick yellowish milk (colostrum) leakage from your breast sometimes. It’s normal.
Stretch marks may have become more noticeable.
Indigestion and heartburn may also start bothering you again during this time.
You may start to feel tightening in your belly, which comes and goes. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions which means that your uterus is practicing for labor. These mild, irregular uterine contractions usually start around 20 weeks of your pregnancy but become more noticeable later.
If contractions become longer, more frequent, and stronger with time, talk to your ob-gyn because it could be a sign of early labor.
Frequent trips to the toilet may become necessary because of pressure on the bladder. Try to keep yourself active; it will help you adapt to your changing shape and weight.
You’ll probably need to slow down since doing little work could sometimes become challenging. Don’t worry; you have just a few more weeks to go.
You may feel drained because of indigestion, sleepless nights, pelvic pain, muscle cramps, and fatigue.
Your abdomen may feel lighter if it’s your first pregnancy because your baby’s head has dropped in the pelvis and is engaged. Your baby is preparing to come out. In primigravida (first pregnancy), the process of head engagement starts a few weeks before labor, while in women who have had prior births, engagement occurs when labor begins.
You may feel some leaking from your nipples, and this is normal. Increased pressure in your lower abdomen is because of the baby’s head engagement (also known as lightening).
Labor usually starts between 38 to 42 weeks. Your midwife or ob-gyn might have given you information about different pain relief options during labor.
If your water breaks, you’ll experience a sudden gush of fluid going down along your legs, making your clothes wet. This may occur with or without other signs of labor like uterine contractions, pressure in the lower abdomen, and backache.
Alert your doctor if you have these symptoms.
Pregnancy typically lasts for 280 days, that is 40 weeks. Mostly labor starts a week earlier or later than the expected date, but you might go overdue. Your doctor may discuss induction options with you.
If you have an elective C-section, it should be scheduled in the next few days.
You may get distressed because you are overdue. Calm down; just keep an eye on the baby’s movement and wait for the labor.
Labor should have started naturally by now. But if you don’t go into labor by 42 weeks, then induction is offered. Going beyond this week could prove a little risky for your baby. You may need increased monitoring to check for your baby’s wellbeing.
These pregnancy changes and transformations occur to nurture your baby inside your womb and prepare your body for delivery. Don’t fear. You’re not alone, and this is part of the journey of motherhood. Most of these pregnancy symptoms start reverting to your pre-pregnancy state soon after delivery.