Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life as she undergoes a host of physical and emotional changes. According to the American Pregnancy Association, many women notice these changes at the onset of pregnancy within the first week, though they might not realize the changes are due to being pregnant. Still, others may have few symptoms this early on to mark their entrance into impending motherhood.
As explained by the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health website, conception occurs when a man’s sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg. This fertilized egg, a zygote, travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus and begins to divide into a cluster of cells. Once this cluster of cells enters the uterus, it further divides to become a blastocyst. If conditions are right, the blastocyst adheres to the thickened lining of the uterus and enters the embryonic stage of development. Implantation takes place six to 12 days following initial conception. Some women might notice slight spotting or cramping. However, implantation bleeding is frequently mistaken for the onset of menstruation, and many women do not realize they are pregnant.
Cessation of Menstruation
Once the blastocyst implants in the uterus, some of the cells divide to become the placenta while the rest divide into the tissues that form every part of the baby’s body. The forming placenta releases human chorionic gonadotropin, the pregnancy hormone that increases the amount of estrogen and progesterone circulating in the woman’s body. These hormones signal the cessation of menstruation. If the woman’s menstrual cycle is regular, missing a period is the most obvious sign she is pregnant.
Even before a woman misses her period, she might notice signs of pregnancy. However, she will most likely attribute them to impending menstruation or something else entirely. As early as one to two weeks after conception, breasts can feel tender and swollen. As her body begins to adjust to changing hormone levels, the pain should subside.
Fatigue is an early indicator of pregnancy that generally occurs within the first week of pregnancy. An increase of progesterone and blood volume, as well as added stress to major body organs, takes their toll and lends to a feeling of exhaustion. Many women pass off fatigue as a consequence of a hectic lifestyle. However, the March of Dimes reports fatigue can actually be a symptom of iron-deficiency anemia, a condition that affects about half of all pregnant women. Luckily, most women experience a boost in energy once they enter their second trimester.
A boost of hormones and a rise in blood volume can increase the number of headaches a woman has during the first few weeks, and even months, of pregnancy. Headaches, at any time, not just during pregnancy, can be prevented by staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet, getting enough rest and reducing stress.
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