Can pregnancy symptoms come and go?

Woman looking up pregnancy information on her computer
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Worried pregnant women often ask me questions. One questions I'm often asked is about pregnancy symptoms that "come and go." While there are many ways to interpret this, I know that many pregnant women obsess over the state of their pregnancy symptoms. Have you ever caught your self asking any of these questions?

Let's think about this in terms of breast tenderness.  Yes, it's a sign of pregnancy when your breasts hurt.  But then you wind up spot checking during the day; you surreptitiously bring your arms up to your breasts and press slightly. If you wince in pain, you think, "Yes!" Though if you're not in pain you either: A) Worry B) Press Harder to Double Check or C) All of the Above. After a few checks of this nature, you begin to worry if your breasts are in pain, namely because you think perhaps it's not a pregnancy symptom, but rather, something you caused by all that pressing.

Have I adequately addressed some of the crazy mental gymnastics pregnant women do? This is what women do constantly. And I'm here to say that worrying is completely normal, so don't worry about the worrying. As far as the symptoms that come and go, the real answer is in how we look at pregnancy symptoms.

When you are sick with a cough, you cough and then don't cough for awhile, then cough some more later. You do not sit and cough continuously for two weeks. This doesn't mean that you don't have a cough. The same can be said for pregnancy symptoms. If, for example, you are feeling queasy sometimes, but not constantly, this doesn't mean that you aren't pregnant, it simply means the symptoms are intermittent.


When to Worry About Pregnancy Symptoms

There does come a time when concern or worry is the appropriate thing to do. In terms of how often and when you experience symptoms, the rule to keep in mind is that you will have days where you do not feel as sick as you did another day, or more tired than you did the day before. This is the normal progression of pregnancy symptoms. You may also notice that you can list five or six symptoms that you feel at some point during the day: morning sickness, fatigue, sore breasts, heavy uterus, and dizzy. So you won't necessarily feel all of these all the time, but at most points of the day, one of this is lurking somewhere.

What becomes potentially problematic is to wake up and all of a sudden have no symptoms of pregnancy. You just feel completely not pregnant. That may warrant a call to your practitioner, particularly if it is accompanied by a worrisome sign like cramping or bleeding. Many times it is completely normal and nothing to worry about, but talking to your midwife or doctor can help you set your mind at ease.

One thing I recommend is to take an early pregnancy class. The reason a class like this works well is that, not only do you get a great jumpstart on accurate information on how to have a healthy pregnancy, when to call your doctor, and what a normal pregnancy looks like, but you get to meet others who are due near when you are due. Being able to talk to others who are going through the same thing you are is a great source of comfort.

Remember, it can be perfectly natural to have a cycle of pregnancy symptoms that are not constantly present. It's also normal to have no symptoms. You want to worry when you had symptoms and they completely disappear or when you have symptoms that are problematic.


Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Sixth Edition.

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