You have been trying for a while. And now you're overdue on your period. Anxiously, you take out the urine pregnancy test kit, go to the washroom, collect a sample and carefully pour a few precious drops in the designated trough. Your heart skips a beat while it slowly makes its way across the strip ….and voila! Two lines! You're pregnant!
I could count a dozen other scenarios but you get the drift. You are pregnant NOW!
While for some there couldn't be a happier realization, others might take their time coming to terms with the reality of the two unmistakable lines on the kit! The emotions range from elation to fear, from gratitude to anger. Depending on your circumstances, you would either be dumbfounded or have a hundred questions to ask! Your doctor would answer most, do a general examination and advise a few tests, scheduling you to come back with the reports. You would also be given an emergency contact number and explained when and how to seek help if the need arises.
Once you're back with the reports, in most of the cases, a normal pregnancy would be established. There are a multitude of discomforts or problems that could arise in the first three months of this special journey. Let's take a peek into some of the common ones.
1. Nausea and vomiting
No sooner has the happiness or adjustment over the pregnancy settled in that you start feeling sick in the pit of your stomach, literally. Early pregnancy nausea usually comes in waves. Though it's commonly called morning sickness, it could be worse at any time of the day or be equally troublesome throughout. Certain conditions like twin pregnancy, or certain problems in pregnancy (molar pregnancy) could result in especially severe morning sickness. Your doctor will discuss its severity with you and advise diet and medicines for it. Small frequent meals and eating what you like usually help. A small number of women may need admission to the hospital for stabilization till they are able to tolerate oral diet.
Acidity or heartburn worsens in pregnancy due to certain changes in the position of the stomach and the food pipe. Besides medicines such as antacids prescribed by your doctor, diet and postural adjustments help too. Do not lie down immediately after eating. Avoid spicy, oily and unhygienically prepared food. Small frequent meals and increased fluid intake are immensely helpful.
One of the most common symptoms of early pregnancy is weakness. Even standing for a few minutes seems arduous. You'd rather pull a chair and sit down! You wonder what's happened to the active, energetic you! Don't worry, it's temporary. Your body is running a factory inside producing the most awesome product ever! It's draining your energy. It is important to listen to your body and slow down. You may continue to work as long as you're comfortable but take a short break and stretch whenever you feel like it.
Constipation commonly occurs in early pregnancy especially if you are prone to it, have a poor abdominal muscle tone or poor dietary habits. Simple diet changes (increasing fibre intake by taking whole grain cereal for breakfast, consuming 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, taking plenty of water) and light exercise help a lot. Your doctor will add some stool softener or laxative safe in pregnancy if required.
Certain aches and pains begin in early pregnancy, especially aggravated by poor muscle tone and poor postural habits. Your doctor may recommend a visit to a trained physiotherapist to mitigate these. Always sit with your back supported. Do not bend your back without bending your knees to lift something from the ground. An occasional pain killer may be taken in consultation with your doctor.
6. Breast pain
Just as some women are prone to breast discomfort prior to getting their menses, early pregnancy is also a time of hormones rising affecting the breasts. Your breasts may feel heavier and full or slightly painful. Do ask your doctor if you feel any lumps, notice any nipple discharge or are otherwise concerned. She will examine the breasts and will reassure you if the changes are normal. Rarely, investigations such as an ultrasound of the breasts may be needed to clarify.
Vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy can be alarming for you and of grave concern for your doctor as well. Though it may occur in an otherwise healthy pregnancy too, it can mean imminent or already underway miscarriage. Urgently seek help and visit the emergency room. The doctor will examine you, request a few tests (blood, urine and ultrasound) and explain the situation to you based on the results. She may advise additional medications and rest depending on the amount, site and cause of bleeding.
8. Pre-existing illness
It is of utmost importance that you discuss any and every illness that you have with your doctor. Certain medicines you may be taking (e.g. for diabetes or high blood pressure) may require change to a safer alternative more suitable to pregnancy. Your obstetrician would record them duly in her notes and discuss in detail the effects of the disease on pregnancy and of pregnancy on the disease. She will also involve the relevant physicians from other specialities in your care so as to have a holistic management plan for the rest of the pregnancy and after childbirth.
9. Emotional roller coaster
The first few weeks of pregnancy can be an emotional roller coaster. Having a supportive partner and friends and family is immensely helpful. Also, knowing that there are hormones inside of you that can play around with your moods helps maintain some control. Any meditation or spiritual exercise for calming your mind that works for you is a boon and is encouraged.
You may take heart from the fact that most of the early pregnancy problems such as morning sickness usually resolve by the end of the third month; and the second trimester (fourth to sixth months) is a relatively comfortable time of pregnancy.
Besides these common problems, rarely a sinister complication may develop and require expert care. Do see your doctor if you develop disturbing headaches, leg pain and swelling, severe abdomen pain, fainting, breast lump or discharge, high fever, trouble passing urine or any other symptom you think needs clarification.
Being under the watchful eyes of a supportive and competent clinician will make the journey a safer and happier one.
Happy pregnancy to you!