PMS Symptoms vs. Pregnancy Symptoms: What Do You Need to Know?
Women sometimes find themselves asking “Is this PMS or the early signs of pregnancy?”. The difference between PMS and early pregnancy symptoms are often difficult to differentiate, as they are subtle and vary from woman to woman.
PMS Symptoms vs. Pregnancy Symptoms
A simple way to determine if you are having symptoms of pregnancy before a missed period is to take a pregnancy test. If you are pregnant, you may receive a positive pregnancy test five to six days before your missed period.
During the time before or after a missed period, you may be experiencing typical PMS symptoms and will wonder if these are instead early signs of pregnancy. Could PMS symptoms mean that the pregnancy test is wrong? Not likely.
Again, PMS symptoms and early pregnancy symptoms are so similar that it’s hard to tell the difference. In PMS, there is breast tenderness, bloating and cramping. These happen to be the same symptoms you will find in early pregnancy. The only real difference is that the period is usually missed if you are pregnant.
How to Tell the Difference between Premenstrual Symptoms and Pregnancy Symptoms
The change in hormones from the premenstrual state and the pregnancy state is not very much in the beginning. Only hCG is added in early pregnancy and only after the period is missed is this significant enough to reveal any changes in symptoms. In both cases, there are elevated progesterone levels that can contribute to PMS symptoms. These elevated progesterone levels drop precipitously at the time of the menstrual period but stay elevated if the woman is pregnant.
Eventually, the cramping disappears, and there is no withdrawal bleeding. Breast tenderness persists, and it becomes more obvious that the symptoms are due to pregnancy. In the beginning, the hormone levels are just too similar to be able to identify definitively a pregnancy versus PMS symptoms.
Comparison of PMS and Early Pregnancy Symptoms
Nausea or vomiting (morning sickness)
Sudden food cravings
Food cravings or aversions
Constipation or diarrhea
Constipation or diarrhea
Mood swing (aggression)
Lower back pain
Skin changes (melasma, linea nigra, stretch marks, spider veins)
Increased vaginal discharge
Bleeding or spotting
Swollen feet (edema)
Shortness of breathe
Sensitivity to smells
PMS: A small percentage of women experience nausea during the premenstrual time period.
Pregnancy: One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy – often referred to as “Morning Sickness”, nearly all women experience a combination of nausea and/or vomiting during the 40 weeks of pregnancy.
PMS: Some women may experience tiredness and fatigue during the premenstrual state
Pregnancy: Typically one of the first early signs of pregnancy. Fatigue as a symptom of pregnancy of pregnancy before a missed period may be caused by increased levels of progesterone.
PMS: After ovulation, some women may experience breast changes, such as swelling, enlargement, and tenderness. These symptoms are only temporary and may indicate that your period is coming.
Pregnancy: Breast changes and tenderness is a very common pregnancy symptom and one of the early signs of pregnancy. Heavy, fuller breasts may appear as quickly as two weeks post-partum.
PMS: Some women experience painful stomach cramps 24 to 48 hours prior to the beginning of their period. The pain decreases throughout the duration of the menstrual cycle.
Pregnancy: Mild to slight stomach cramping in early pregnancy is experienced by some women. Similar in intensity to period cramps, these cramps are often felt in the low stomach and back. The experience of cramps in early pregnancy may extend to several weeks or months.
PMS: Due to changes in hormone levels, some women find them laughing one minute and crying the next during the premenstrual time period.
Pregnancy: Just as with PMS, these symptoms are a result of changing hormones which may create emotional changes.
How to Deal with Early Pregnancy Symptoms
When it becomes obvious because of a positive pregnancy test and symptoms of early pregnancy that you are pregnant, there are things you can do to help control some of the symptoms. A hot water bottle can be used to ease cramping, and a cold pack can be used on the breasts to ease breast tenderness. Many doctors recommend wearing a tight, supportive bra early in pregnancy to take down some of the tender nipple pain you experience in early pregnancy.
Tylenol or Advil can be taken for mild discomfort, but most women are reluctant to take any medication during pregnancy, especially in the early stages when development and growth are so rapid. There is no evidence to suggest that these are dangerous in early pregnancy so if your doctor says it’s okay, you can take these medications for your discomfort.
There is medication available for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. If your symptoms are severe, you may be able to get a prescription for this but, again, such medications aren’t proven to be 100 percent safe in pregnancy, so you take a risk taking any medication for early pregnancy symptoms. Years ago, medications were taken by women for nausea in pregnancy that caused severe birth defects. While better testing is available to show that the newer medications are safer in pregnancy than, say, thalidomide was, nothing is absolutely fool-proof, and you are better off tolerating the pregnancy symptoms than you are medicating them.
Ovulation vs. Pregnancy Symptoms
At the time of ovulation, the cervical mucus is clear and stringy. There may be ovulation pain on one side of the body or the other, and there may be some cramping, signaling ovulation. This does not last, and the corpus luteum is formed on the ovary that can be tender when palpated depending on what size it is. The corpus luteum secretes estrogen and progesterone to try and maintain the fertilized egg until it implants and begins making its own estrogen and progesterone.
If you are pregnant, there may be some increase in cervical mucus but it is usually not similar to ovulatory mucus. It is not stringy or stretchy like ovulation mucus is, and it is usually white in color rather than clear. This is one of the first signs of pregnancy, and it is generally present just at about the time of the missed period. The breast tenderness that is part of PMS symptoms does not go away as it does when you are not pregnant. Instead, the breast tenderness intensifies as the pregnancy hormones are predominant.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can a woman have a period while she is pregnant?
A woman may notice light vaginal bleeding/spotting around two weeks after conception. It typically last only a few days and is lighter and shorter than a normal period.
Some women may experience intermittent vaginal bleeding during pregnancy that they may confuse for a regular period. Bleeding during pregnancy is not the same thing as bleeding during menstruation.
Spotting is slight vaginal bleeding that leaves light traces of pink or light brown blood. Causes of spotting included ovulation, implantation, the beginning of labor, infection, and other illnesses.
Menstrual bleeding (period) is caused by the body’s natural hormonal cycle. Period bleeding has a heavier flow than spotting and may last from 5 to 7 days. In addition, period blood is bright red and requires the use of pads or tampons.
You may experience a variety of symptoms during the time before your period or after your missed period. Keep a log of the symptoms you are experiencing to determine if there is a pattern. Five to six days before your missed period you may choose to take an at-home pregnancy test. You may also choose to an appointment with your health-care provider to get a blood test to detect pregnancy hormones in your body.
Diarrhea During Pregnancy: What Causes It And Remedies
Digestive disorders are common during pregnancy. One such condition is diarrhea that occurs frequently causing discomfort to you. It is a condition where the stoolвЂ™s consistency is looser than normal. It usually occurs during the first trimester and is short-lived.
However, diarrhea can sometimes prove to be serious and even lethal. If you experience more than three watery stools a day, you need to rehydrate. Find out all about Diarrhea in early pregnancy and what you can do to ease the discomfort.
Causes Of Diarrhea InВ Early Pregnancy:
Diarrhea during early pregnancy can be caused either by pregnancy-related changes or general conditions.
Pregnancy-Related Causes For Diarrhea:
Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) will have an effect on the digestive system. They can cause morning sickness, food cravings, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Every pregnant woman experiences hormonal changes, but only a few suffer from diarrhea in their early stages.
2. Prenatal Vitamins:
Prenatal vitamins are good for you and your growing baby’s health. But, sometimes they may cause stomach-upset, leading to diarrhea. In such a case, you have to check with your doctor about the intake of vitamins.
3. Dietary Changes:
You may have to change your diet during pregnancy so that your baby receives the essential nutrients. Sometimes when you change the food, it can cause diarrhea or upset stomach. But do not worry since it is a temporary illness and will sub-side in some time.
4. Food Sensitivities:
Food sensitivities are one among the many changes that pregnancy causes to your body. Food that has not troubled you before pregnancy will now upset your stomach, resulting in diarrhea or bloating.
5. Lactose Intolerance:
It is another significant dietary change which causes diarrhea in pregnancy. Pregnant women increase their milk consumption and thus can suffer from lactose intolerance and consequent diarrhea. Research says that cutting milk for a few days can reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance. However, the pregnant mother should take other calcium sources like cheese and yogurt.
Other General Reasons For Diarrhea During Pregnancy:
Having diarrhea does not mean it is directly related to your pregnancy. Non-pregnancy related causes may also exist. The other causes of diarrhea in pregnancy include:
- Bacteria, virus, intestinal parasites, stomach flu, medications and food poisoning.
- Some conditions such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease, cause diarrhea frequently.
When To Seek A Doctor’s Help?
If you suffer from diarrhea for more than two days, you should immediately see your doctor. Also, watch out for the below symptoms that may occur along with diarrhea when pregnant.
Treatment For Diarrhea During Pregnancy:
In addition to visiting a doctor, you can follow a few dietary changes to alleviate the problem.
1. Avoid Problem Causing Foods:
Some foods can worsen diarrhea. You should completely cut off spicy, fried, high-fat, and high-fiber foods, dairy and milk products. You should avoid the following foods:
2. Follow BRAT & CRAM Diet:
BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast) diet is recommended by doctors to sooth the digestive system. These foods may not provide all the nutrients, and thus, new research recommends to add the following as well.
- Vegetables like cooked carrots
- Starchy foods like unsweetened cereals, crackers and potatoes
- Lean meats
- Soups with rice, noodles or vegetables
- Yogurt containing active live colonies of Lactobacillus acidophilus
Another effective alternative is following the CRAM diet, which includes cereal, rice, apple sauce and milk. These foods are comparatively better since they provide with better protein content.
3. Hydrate Yourself:
Ensure you consume a lot of water, juices and broths to replace the lost electrolytes. Water replenishes your lost fluids, juices replenish the potassium levels, and broth the sodium levels.
Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is one of the most tried and tested methods of controlling diarrhea. This therapy involves giving water with good amounts of sugar and salt, as well as supplemental zinc for two weeks. It is extremely effective because water is still absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the body, even with loss of fluid through diarrhea or vomiting.
4. Keep A Check On Medications:
Some medications can cause diarrhea, but with time, your body will adjust to them. But it may not be the same case all the time. You should check with your doctor so that he may prescribe you a different medication or treat diarrhea in any other way.
Also, you should not take any OTC anti-diarrheal medications without your doctor’s consultation. The condition may sometimes turn worse.
Home Remedies For Diarrhea During Pregnancy:
The following home remedies help you to avoid dehydration, and help in retaining water and electrolytes in your body.
- Drink plenty of water, at least, one liter every two hours and have salty crackers as intermediate snacks.
- Ginger tea is another best remedy. Boil some ginger and tea in water and allow it to stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and then consume.
- Add three to four tablespoons of honey in a glass of water and consume the mixture every day.
- Consume a mixture of lemon juice, crushed black pepper (1/4th tsp) and ginger powder (1/2 tsp) two times in a day.
- Add peppermint extract to half a cup of water and consume it twice or thrice a day.
- Psyllium husk is also another remedy as it reduces the frequency and severity of diarrhea.
Prevention Of Diarrhea During Pregnancy:
There are a number of reasons you can have diarrhea during pregnancy. Avoid them and be free of the problem.
- Avoid spicy or fatty foods as they are difficult to digest.
- Cut down the milk intake if you are lactose intolerant and instead opt other calcium sources.
- Avoid high sugar sodas and energy drinks as they can disturb your digestive system.
- Do not consume coffee, tea, grape juices and any energy drinks.
Diarrhea During LateВ Pregnancy:
You are likely to experience diarrhea in late pregnancy that is during the third trimester. It could be a sign of labor and can also occur a couple of weeks before delivery. But it does not mean your baby is coming immediately. It is just that the body is preparing for the labor that begins at some later point.
Traveler’s Diarrhea During Pregnancy:
Traveler’s diarrhea is a common condition that occurs within a week of traveling. The higher risk prone areas for traveler’s diarrhea are in Africa, South America, Middle East and Asia. It could be due to the consumption of water or food that is contaminated with fecal deposits.
If you have to avoid traveler’s diarrhea during pregnancy:
- Do not buy food from street vendors
- Avoid tap water even for brushing your teeth
- Do not go to localities where sanitation is poor
- Avoid fruits which do not have to be peeled
Green Diarrhea During Pregnancy:
Diarrhea will not be a major concern during pregnancy, but when the stool color changes to green, you may get astonished. The chlorophyll rich food usually leads to green stools. As the consumption of greens increases during pregnancy through iron-rich vitamins, medicines, and supplements, it can be a reason for green diarrhea.
When you notice green color in your stool, do not panic. First, go through what you have had the previous day. Only when you realize that you have not taken food that can be a reason of green stools, approach your doctor.
Green stools do not indicate danger as a quick pass through to the intestine can also lead to green color in the stools.
Also, do not worry about black stool, which can be caused because of the intake iron supplements during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is Diarrhea An Early Sign of Pregnancy?
Diarrhea is one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy, accompanied by vomiting and nausea, aversions and food cravings. It occurs as a result of increasing hormonal levels, especially estrogen, progesterone and HCG.
Is Diarrhea During Pregnancy Harmful For The Baby?
Diarrhea during pregnancy will not harm your baby. But if the condition is severe, it can cause dehydration in the mother thus hampering the blood flow to the fetus. Diarrhea that occurs due to any complications like uterine and abdominal infections during second or third trimesters can be dangerous to the fetus.
Can Diarrhea Occur In Second Trimester Of Pregnancy?
Diarrhea in the second trimester is less common. If diarrhea is followed by any other symptoms like fever or body aches, then you should check with your doctor. There are also higher chances of diarrhea if it is caused by food, drinks or an infection. In this case, you should immediately seek your doctor’s help.
In early stages of pregnancy do you get diarrhea
Experiencing back pain in early pregnancy might be a common phenomenon in most pregnant women; however, it should be avoided as much as possible. Estimations show that about 50% to 80% of pregnant women experience some form of back pain during the period of pregnancy. This form of backache may be mild back pain associated with certain specific activities, while others may be acute back pain that may eventually become chronic. This kind of back pains may largely interfere with your sleep or even some other daily activities; however, there are steps which can be taken to curb or manage that back pain during the early stages of pregnancy.
Why Do You Have Back Pain in Early Pregnancy?
First of all, if you are pregnant you will experience backaches, which happens due to loosening of the ligaments of the back. As the ligaments stretch, most pregnant women will have that kind of back pain early in their pregnancy. However, in some women, it may not last for quite a while, in others it may take time to go away. The back pains may also be caused by carrying a heavy pregnancy like twins, which automatically will have a greater impact on your posture pushing your back more to maintain your posture. The back pain might go all through your pregnancy as your weight gain shifts the center of gravity of your body, throwing your posture a little bit out of position.
Experience of One Mom
ВЂњI had some extreme lower back pain in my first trimester. When I went to see my chiropractor, he did some massaging on my back with adjustments. He said that the back pain was caused by ligament loosening. However, this pain eventually went away by week 16. After that, I engaged in some safe pregnancy Yoga positions which improved my pregnancy state so much. вЂќ
How to Relieve Back Pain in Early Pregnancy
Exercising is very important for pregnant mothers; it boosts flexibility while strengthening muscles. It eases the stress on your spine, relieving you of back pain. Some safer exercises include swimming, walking and stationery cycling. Your doctor can recommend other relevant exercises which are safe. Below are some yoga exercises to reduce back pain caused by pregnancy:
2. Heat and Cold
When you apply heat or cold to your back it may help you greatly. You can consult your doctor before embarking on a routine of putting cold compresses on the painful regions on your back for up to about 20 minutes. And after three days you can change to heat.
When you slouch during pregnancy, it may strain your spine. You should ensure that you use a good posture any time especially while sitting, sleeping and even when working. For instance, sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can take stress off your back.
A slow gentle massage will soothe the tired and aching muscles. You can lean forward over the chairвЂ™s back and let your partner massage your back gently. DonвЂ™t forget the muscles that run on either side of your spine. It is better to see a trained massage therapist or physiotherapy for these services.
5. DonвЂ™t Stand or Sit for Long Periods
If you canвЂ™t help it, you can use a stool or a box to prop up one foot especially when sitting. Taking frequent breaks may be very essential when standing for a long time.
Tips on reducing back pain and hip pain throughout your pregnancy:
When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider
When you experience mild back pain in early pregnancy, it may not be enough reason to visit a health care provider because these backaches are eminent during pregnancy. However, there are some circumstances that may need a doctorвЂ™s intervention. Here are some of the extreme cases that may need you to contact a doctor:
- Severe back pain.
- Abrupt on-set or increasingly severe back pain.
- Rhythmic cramping pains, this is a sign of preterm labor.
Sometimes severe back pain during pregnancy may be associated with vertebral osteoarthritis, osteoporosis or septic arthritis. These may be rare but, you can check with your health care provider.
Other Symptoms You May Experience in Early Pregnancy
Pregnant mothers will usually have certain symptoms during the initial stages of pregnancy apart from back pain. This table below shows other symptoms that may be experienced in early pregnancy.
Diarrhea During Early Pregnancy
Most women, during their early pregnancy, experience constipation. However, there are a few women who also experience diarrhea during their pregnancy. Though rare, diarrhea during pregnancy is normal. During pregnancy, there are a number of reasons why a woman may suffer from diarrhea.
If a woman develops a sensitivity towards certain food items, she may experience diarrhea during pregnancy A lot of women wonder whether diarrhea is normal during early pregnancy. The truth is that it is normal.
The body needs to get used to the hormonal changes that occur in the body of a woman during pregnancy. The good news however, is that diarrhea is usually extremely short during pregnancy. When you have diarrhea during pregnancy early signs include nausea and vomiting too. However, if the diarrhea and the nausea continue, you may want to get it checked by a healthcare practitioner.
While diarrhea during early pregnancy is quite normal, many women experience it even in the later stages of the pregnancy. In fact, some women have it right before they begin labor. This is the way your body prepares for the delivery. In a lot of cases though, diarrhea may be caused due to a viral infection or food poisoning. If you are suffering from chronic diarrhea in the later stages of your pregnancy, visit your doctor and get yourself checked.
Causes of Diarrhea During Pregnancy
For a lot of women, candies and other processed foods can cause diarrhea during pregnancy.
Sometimes, you may experience constipation and then suddenly the stools turn watery. This happens because when a woman has chronic constipation, there may be fecal impaction where the bowels are partially obstructed with stool. A doctor would be able to help resolve such a case.
If the diarrhea is sudden and violent, continuing over a 24 hour period, it may be a case of food poisoning and immediate treatment should be taken in such a case. If you are experiencing diarrhea, keep drinking a lot of fluids. Water and fresh juices can help you maintain the hydration levels of the body. However, it is best that you avoid artificially flavored drinks.
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