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Pregnancy symptoms and signs

Pregnancy symptoms and signs

Missed your period? Feeling sick and tired all the time? Sore breasts? Read our guide to the early signs that you may be pregnant

Missed period
Of the early signs of pregnancy this is the most reliable, although some women can still bleed a little. Do a pregnancy test for confirmation.

Morning sickness
About 80% of women feel sick during early pregnancy, with around half actually vomiting. Although it's called morning sickness, it can happen at any time of the day or night. You normally start to feel it around six weeks after your last period, and it tends to ease off around 14 weeks. Extreme morning sickness with severe vomiting, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, suffered with, is a serious condition and needs treatment.

Feeling tired and emotional
This is very common in the first 12 weeks, as your body is working overtime. Don't worry, it's just your pregnancy hormones kicking in, and things will settle down.

Tender breasts in early pregnancy
Your breasts may get bigger and feel a bit sore in the early weeks. They may feel tingly, too, with more visible veins and darker, more prominent nipples.

Urinating more when pregnant
This is a common early sign of pregnancy. You may also get constipated or have a vaginal discharge in early pregnancy.

Strange tastes in pregnancy
Some women experience heightened senses, so a strange metallic taste is a common early sign of pregnancy, as are cravings. You may find that you can't stand items of food and drink that you used to love.

The early pregnancy timeline
1-3 weeks pregnant
Your pregnancy will be dated from the first day of your last period, but conception usually takes place about two weeks after this, when you ovulate (release an egg). During the third week, the fertilised egg moves along the Fallopian tube towards the womb, where it burrows into the lining. You may not notice any symptoms in the first four weeks of pregnancy.

4-5 weeks pregnant
This is the time of your first missed period. The embryo, which is only about 2mm long, is already developing a nervous system, and the beginnings of its major organs are in place. It's surrounded by fluid inside the amniotic sac and links to your blood supply. It's also attached to a tiny yolk sac for nourishment. The placenta will be formed in a few weeks.

6-7 weeks pregnant
The embryo is growing rapidly. It is curved, with a tail, and looks a bit like a tadpole. The head and heart are taking shape, and limb buds and ear dimples appear. By seven weeks, it will be about 10mm from head to bottom, with a large head. The brain and spinal cord begin to take shape. Your hormones will be raging, so you may start to experience some of the symptoms above.

8 weeks pregnant
By now you'll have probably missed your second period. Your womb will be the size of a lemon, and you're probably feeling tired. Your breasts may be a bit bigger and sore, too, and you may need to pass urine more. Your baby, now called a foetus, will be forming cartilage, as its legs and arms develop.

By Julia Shaw

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