Symptoms and feelings in early weeks

In the first few weeks of pregnancy, various physical symptoms and new emotions arise. Although many women felt some anxiety during these early weeks, and some found it hard to believe it was really happening to them, there was also joy and excitement. (See also 'Discovering you are pregnant and telling other people').

Unpleasant physical symptoms affected people's feelings in the early weeks of pregnancy. Nausea and sometimes vomiting is well known as 'morning sickness', but these symptoms can happen all day, and can occasionally be very severe. Because this is so common, it has a separate section on the website (see 'Sickness and hyperemesis').

Another common symptom is feeling tired or run down. Some people are surprised to feel so exhausted. Others include getting a strange taste in your mouth, having tender breasts, feeling dizzy or faint, and abdominal cramps or twinges. To some people it felt a bit like premenstrual tension at first. But some women we talked to felt physically fine during the first few weeks, or noticed only minor changes.

Many women get some minor abdominal cramping in early pregnancy, but as one noted (Interview 44 above), there is little information about it. In some cases it is a sign that something is wrong (such as a miscarriage starting, or an ectopic pregnancy, when the embryo implants and develops in the fallopian tube rather than the womb). If you are at all worried you should contact your GP.

One woman experienced bloating, sharp pains and sickness in the early weeks as a side effect of IVF. She had developed ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, where the fertility drugs used have over-stimulated the ovaries. In rare cases this can be serious, but she recovered well after a stay in hospital.

Several women we talked to had some vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy. This may be a sign that the pregnancy is going to miscarry, but not always. One woman described quite strong pains with blood loss, which suggested that the pregnancy might be ectopic. It was very frightening at the time, but in the end the baby was fine and the pain and bleeding stopped.

Early miscarriage is unfortunately quite common, and women's experiences of it are explored in more detail in 'Bleeding and miscarriage'.

The possibility of losing the baby was not the only source of anxiety early in pregnancy. People described various other worries in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Some women who had not intended to become pregnant continued to feel uncertain about whether to go ahead with the pregnancy. One mother described how seeing her baby at the first scan made her feel differently. Another single mother had no doubts about keeping the baby, but still worried about how she would manage financially. For some people, pregnancy led to a break-up in their relationship. This mother briefly considered adoption, but changed her mind.

See also 'Discovering you are pregnant and telling other people' and 'Emotions during pregnancy'.

Last reviewed May 2017.


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