Common physical changes - conception to 12 weeks
From conception to birth, a woman's body undertakes the most amazing process of fertilisation, implantation and the development and growth of her baby (or babies). Her body is her baby's home for the next nine months (or around 40 weeks) and the experience of pregnancy becomes a journey of many new physical sensations. Whether this is your first, second, third (or more) pregnancy, your body will react differently to each individual pregnancy.
During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (also known as the '1st trimester' ), a woman's body changes to provide a nurturing and protective environment for her baby in which to grow and develop. These changes can be obvious or quite subtle. In many cases, the signs only become clearer in retrospect, after the pregnancy is confirmed. (In other words, "That is why I've been feeling so sick or tired!"). Many women will not know they are pregnant until their menstrual period is quite a few weeks overdue. Others will begin to wonder if they could be pregnant, soon after their period is missed. A few will feel they know they are pregnant, even before missing a period, because they feel 'unusual', have a hunch, or suspect that something is different.
Occasionally, the early signs of pregnancy can make a woman feel confused. This may be because many of the physical signs of early pregnancy (such as swollen tender breasts, feeling tired, 'bloated' and possibly experiencing cramping and/or pelvic discomfort), can be similar to normal pre-menstrual signs, in the days just before a period starts. Pregnancy signs can also seem puzzling if a woman experiences an 'implantation bleed' and/or light bleeds or 'spotting' during the first few weeks of her pregnancy. These may be mistaken for normal periods. This issue is discussed in depth later in this section in no periods or lighter bleeding.