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Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Hub

Stories of fetal movements at ten or twelve weeks, though not uncommon in antenatal clinics, are a result of this mistaken belief.

Pregnancy symptoms

What are the causes of the common pregnancy symptoms?

Morning sickness or just plain nausea is the most common and most widely experienced early pregnancy symptom. It is believed to be hormonal (many hormones are produced by the fetus and the placenta). The onset is within three to four weeks of conception and will usually subside and disappear around ten to twelve weeks of gestation. Sometimes it persists for up to fourteen or sixteen weeks and, in exceptional cases, it may continue throughout the pregnancy. Another unusual scenario is where the symptoms disappear as expected at about twelve weeks, only to come back towards the end of pregnancy.

Smoking exacerbates morning sickness. The severe form of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting is regarded as path­ological and is discussed in a separate chapter.

What about dizziness and bloatedness?

Dizziness, normally, starts later on in pregnancy. The cause is partially hormonal; progesterone, which is abundant during pregnancy, causes blood pressure to fall, especially on rising from a lying position.

The other cause of dizziness, if the mother has been lying on her back, is the pressure of the pregnant uterus on the big blood vessels in her abdominal cavity. This interferes with the blood-flow back to the heart and, on sitting or standing up, she may feel faint. In fact, this flat-on-your-back position is discouraged in pregnancy, because it also reduces the blood supply to the womb and the fetus.

Bloatedness is also a result of the high progesterone hormone levels, which cause fluid retention.

Several hormones also act to promote increased breast size, in preparation for feeding the baby. The breasts will therefore feel heavy, slightly engorged and may even feel a little tender.

What about change in bowel habits in early pregnancy?

Constipation is quite common in pregnancy and again the culprit is the hormone progesterone.

Some women experience heartburn; again this is caused by progesterone. Both problems clear up after the birth and treatment of the symptoms in pregnancy is usually unsatisfactory.

It is said that presence of sugar in the urine in pregnancy is "not abnormal". Is this true?

Yes. Changes in blood-flow through the kidneys mean that loss of sugar through the urine may occur in pregnancy, without reflecting disease. Urine sugar cannot and should never be used to monitor diabetes management in pregnancy.

In the presence of other suspicious features - such as undue thirst, large fetal size and excessive amniotic fluid volume - sugar in the urine may prompt investigation for diabetes in pregnancy; but when it is found in isolation, it is of little or no significance.

In pregnancy, some areas may become darker in pigmentation.

Increased pigmentation around the nipples (areola), the navel and the perineum is common in pregnancy. Also common is the formation of a dark line extending from the navel down to the pubis, known as the linea nigra. All this is hormonal and the increased pigmentation is always temporary, clearing up within weeks of delivery.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

This is a condition where there is pain, numbness and even weakness of some of the fingers in one or both hands. This condition is not confined to pregnancy but may occur for the first time during pregnancy. Fluid retention is thought to be partly to blame. It can be quite debilitating sometimes requiring surgical intervention to relieve the symptoms. In most cases, merely splinting the fingers will help. It usually disappears after delivery.

Visible Signs: Next Page

The dark line below the navel is a normal pregnancy feature. It tends to disappear after delivery

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