Pregnancy Symptoms (cont.)

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Frequent urination

A woman in the early stages of pregnancy may feel she has to urinate frequently, especially at nighttime, and she may leak urine with a cough, sneeze, or laugh. The increased desire to urinate may have both physical and hormonal causes. Once the embryo has implanted in the uterus, it begins to produce the hormone known as human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which is believed to stimulate frequent urination. Another cause of frequent urination that develops later is the pressure exerted by the growing uterus on the bladder, but this does not cause frequent urination until the second and third trimesters when the fetus is substantially larger.

Changes in nipple color

Women may notice a deepening of the color of the area surrounding the nipple, called the areola and/or a dark line going down from the middle of the central abdomen area to the pubic area (known as the linea nigra). Some degree of darkening of the areola persists after pregnancy in many women, but the linea nigra typically disappears in the months following delivery of the baby.

Melasma (darkening of the skin)

Some women may develop a so-called "mask of pregnancy" in the first trimester, referring to a darkening of the skin on the forehead, bridge of the nose, upper lip, or cheeks. The darkened skin is typically present on both sides of the face. Doctors refer to this condition as melasma or chloasma, and it is more common in darker-skinned women than those with lighter skin. Melasma can also occur in some conditions other than pregnancy. Women who have a family history of melasma are at greater risk of developing this sign of pregnancy.

Mood swings and stress

Mood swings and stress are common symptoms reported by many women in the early stages of pregnancy. Many women in the early stages of pregnancy describe feelings of heightened emotions or even crying spells. The rapid changes in hormone levels are believed to cause these changes in mood. Pregnant women may also notice more rapid and drastic changes in their moods. As with other nonspecific symptoms, mood swings can be caused by a number of conditions other than pregnancy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/17/2014

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