Common Pregnancy Symptoms And Remedies

  • Jessica TangBSc, Cancer Science, Oncology and Cancer Biology, University of Nottingham, UK
  • Humna Maryam IkramBS, Pharmacology, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK


While a missed period and nausea are some of the major symptoms of why women suspect pregnancy, they are inconclusive until a pregnancy test is carried out. Pregnancy symptoms tend to vary from one woman to the other. In a few cases, some women don't realise that they are pregnant until the baby bump begins to show. 

Symptoms of pregnancy are often triggered by hormonal changes that occur as the body adjusts to housing a baby, particularly a rise in the pregnancy hormone, human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), and other female hormones like progesterone and estrogen. Some women may experience little to no symptoms, while others experience several of the symptoms. Also, some symptoms appear earlier on during the first trimester, whereas some come on in the later stages of pregnancy.

If you are an expecting mother, it is important to understand your pregnancy symptoms and be aware of remedies that can help relieve associated discomfort. This will contribute to the optimal well-being of both you and the developing foetus.

Common symptoms of pregnancy

Some common pregnancy symptoms include:

  1. Missed Period: 

Missing your menstrual period is the primary and most common symptom of pregnancy, especially if your periods are regular. As soon as you conceive, the hormone progesterone stops further ovulation and, consequently, the shedding of your uterine lining that leads to menstruation. Hence, your menstrual cycle is stopped until the baby is born.1 However, a missed period doesn’t always mark pregnancy. You could also miss your period due to some menstrual irregularities such as hormonal imbalances, dieting, taking oral contraceptives, stress, certain medications and some diseases like diabetes and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

  1.  Nausea: 

Otherwise known as morning sickness, this symptom is experienced by more than 50% of pregnant women. It is often accompanied by vomiting, uneasiness of the stomach and a loss of appetite. Although most women experience it in the mornings, it can occur at any time of the day or throughout the day. Not every pregnant woman experiences nausea, and it could be mild or severe. Morning sickness usually starts in the first trimester, around the 4th to 6th week of pregnancy. It peaks around the 9th week and then settles by the 12th week. Again, time duration may vary from one woman to another.

  1. Fatigue

It is very common to be overwhelmingly tired, especially during the early stages of your pregnancy. The surge in progesterone levels is suspected to be the cause of the tiredness you feel. It can also be caused by anaemia, which often occurs when you don’t get enough iron from your diet.

  1. Tender breasts and changes in breasts

Another common symptom of pregnancy can be observed in your breasts. During pregnancy, your breasts become swollen, tender and fuller. Hormonal changes may contribute to these breast changes, making your breast sore and sensitive, and can be likened to those felt a few days before your period.  Also, while the skin around the nipple becomes darker, the nipples stand out more, and the veins, are more visible. It’s also common to feel tingles in your breast. The soreness usually decreases as soon as your body gets used to the hormonal changes.2 

Remedies and self-care tips

  • It’s easier to get nauseous when you are dehydrated so ensure you stay hydrated always by drinking lots of water.
  • Many women report a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, and while there are limited studies on that, it is established that certain scents are extra sensitive to a pregnant woman. Sniffing on a sliced lemon or sucking on a peppermint, preferably a ginger lollipop, can help reduce the frequency of vomiting.
  • Nausea can make you lose your appetite. It’s best to eat foods that are easy to digest without making you feel like throwing up. Eating foods such as bland, high-carb snacks like saltine crackers, pretzels and dry cereal in the morning can help relieve morning sickness. 
  • Acupressure wristbands may also help as they apply light pressure to the spot on the wrist that is believed to be connected to nausea. 
  • Ensure you get enough rest or sleep in the early stage of pregnancy. 
  • Eat enough foods rich in iron to prevent anaemia. Your doctor could provide iron supplements for you.

Ways to alleviate discomfort

  • Invest in a good bra. You should get a comfortable, wire-free bra that supports the breasts firmly without being tight, for instance, a cotton sports bra. Soft breast pads may also fit into your bra to reduce nipple pain and friction.
  • Wear loose (upper) clothes that will not cause discomfort to your breasts when you wear them for long hours.
  • Apply a cold compress on your breast to relieve swelling and pain. 
  • Running a warm bath or shower has been proven to help ease discomfort.
  1. Frequent Urination

Several hormonal changes occur in your body during pregnancy, one of which involves an increase in the amount of bodily fluids your body produces. This includes an increase in blood flow to the pelvic region, causing the kidney to process more fluid, which ends up in your bladder. In addition to this, your swelling uterus presses against the bladder, increasing your need to pee frequently.3

How to manage frequent urination

  • Drinking at least 300 millilitres of water daily is recommended. Even though it seems wise to cut down the amount of water you drink to avoid urinating frequently, it’s important you stay hydrated.
  • Reduce your intake of carbonated drinks, coffee and other caffeinated drinks as they might make you feel the need to urinate more. 
  • It may be beneficial to plan your bathroom trips ahead of time to prevent leaking urine. 
  • Since constipation may contribute to urine leakage, eat foods rich in fibre to reduce your chances of constipation.
  1. Food Cravings and Aversions

It is not uncommon to crave or dislike certain foods during pregnancy. You may find that you no longer like your favourite food, or you suddenly develop a liking for foods that provide energy and calcium. This craving or aversion can vary throughout the pregnancy or remain the same for the entire duration4. In some cases, the woman develops an unusual craving for non-edible items like soil. Such a case is known as “Pica” and may be indicative of a nutrient deficiency.

Healthy approaches to managing cravings:

  • Avoid going to places where you will see the foods you crave, and remove such foods if they are in your environment.
  • Eat often and drink more water to avoid yielding to the cravings, or limit yourself to a small portion of the craving at most. 
  • Keeping yourself busy might help distract you from food cravings.5 
  1. Backaches 

A common complaint among pregnant women is backaches. This could be because of the extra weight gain, a change in your centre of gravity and the effect of your pregnancy hormones. Backaches are a very common occurrence during pregnancy, affecting approximately 50 to 80% of the women6. The aches can be mild, especially when performing certain activities or acute pain that grows chronic.

Remedies include:

  • Maintaining a good posture, particularly when sitting.
  • Wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes
  • Apply a cold or warm compress.
  • Avoid sitting for too long. Take breaks and walks regularly during the day.
  • A massage to relieve backaches.
  • Consult your doctor when the ache becomes intense. They may prescribe pain relief pills for you.

Other less common symptoms of pregnancy include:

  1. Heartburn

Due to the hormones active during pregnancy, the valve between your oesophagus and stomach might relax, causing stomach acid to leak into the oesophagus and resulting in heartburn. Heartburn can also be caused by the baby pressing against your stomach.

Measures that can help relieve heartburn include: 

  • Eating healthily. Small portions of meals are encouraged as opposed to 3 heavy meals. 
  • Limiting your intake of caffeine and fatty foods can also help to relieve heartburn.
  • Sitting upright when you eat will help take pressure off your stomach.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • You could also get some over-the-counter antacids.
  1. Mood Swings and Emotional Changes

Emotional changes such as sudden, unusual feelings of euphoria, irritability, anxiety and even depression can be brought about by effects on the pregnancy hormones on your brain. 

Coping mechanisms for mood swings:

  • Engaging in gentle to moderate exercises helps to improve mood and overall fitness.
  • Calming techniques like meditation, listening to music, journaling your emotions, yoga and getting a massage can be effective in managing stress and boosting your mood. 
  • Talking it out, either to your partner, friend or therapist, has also been found to be a mood booster.
  • Swollen Feet and Ankles

Apart from the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, your body retains more fluid in this period, causing your feet and ankles to swell. Swollen feet and ankles often get worse in the later stages of the pregnancy and are more obvious at the end of the day.

Remedies include exercising regularly, wearing compression socks and comfortable shoes and avoiding standing for long periods.

If you notice a sudden increase in swelling, it could be an indication of pre-eclampsia so you should report to your doctor immediately.


During pregnancy, hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen prepare the body and cause changes that tell you that you are pregnant. The common symptoms include a missed period, nausea, frequent urination and tender breasts.. Nevertheless, it is best to carry out a pregnancy test to be absolutely sure. Symptoms of pregnancy can be quite discomforting. Hence, remedies such as mild exercise, wearing comfortable clothes and shoes, reducing caffeine intake, etc, can help ease your discomfort and make your pregnancy journey a pleasant one.


When do pregnancy symptoms start?

Symptoms usually start in the first trimester, between the 4th and 6th week of your pregnancy. Some of them, such as a missed period and morning sickness, can start as early as in the 2nd week.

When do I begin showing during pregnancy?

This varies from one woman to another. From the 12th week (second trimester), most women’s bump starts to show, while for a handful, especially if it's your first time being pregnant, it begins to show by the 16th to 20th week.

How soon can I take a pregnancy test?

You can carry out a pregnancy test as soon as you discover a missed period or 21 days after having unprotected sex.


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  2. Signs and symptoms of pregnancy - NHS. [Internet] [Cited 28 July 2023] Available from:
  3. Davis DC. The Discomforts of Pregnancy. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing [Internet]. 1996 [cited 2023 Sep 14]; 25(1):73–81. Available from:
  4. What are some common signs of pregnancy? | NICHD. [Internet] [Cited 28th July 2023] Available from:
  5. Blau LE, Lipsky LM, Dempster KW, Coleman MHE, Siega-Riz AM, Faith MS, et al. Women’s Experience and Understanding of Food Cravings in Pregnancy: A Qualitative Study in women receiving prenatal care at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. J Acad Nutr Diet [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Sep 14]; 120(5):815–24. Available from: 
  6. Back Pain During Pregnancy | Cedars-Sinai. [Internet] [Cited 28th July 2023] Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Jennifer E Onwudiegwu

B.Pharm, Madonna University, Nigeria

Jennifer is a hospital pharmacist with a passion for research and writing. She has 4 years of experience in both hospital and community pharmacy practice, and over a year as a freelance writer.
Jennifer is well-versed in breaking down technical content into clear, digestible content. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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