Very faint line on a pregnancy test Sometimes, the line that tells you that you are pregnant is so faint, you wonder if you are imagining it all. The kits we all use at home detects HCG, or human chorionic gonadotrophin. This hormone is produced by the developing embyro, and gets stronger every day. Chances are, if you repeat the test a couple of days after the faint line, the new test will show a much darker line. A false positive result is very rare. If you have had a positive test result, and your period shows up a few days later, then it's probably due to a very early miscarriage. As sad as this is, it's a lot more common than most people realise. Perhaps the egg failed to divide properly, or couldn't implant in the wall of the uterus due to a defect with either the egg or the sperm that fertilised it. But it does mean that the basic mechanisms have been working - a sound egg fertilised by a good sperm stands every chance of resulting in a healthy baby. Cramping As soon as a healthy egg has been fertilised, and makes its way down the Fallopian tube to the uterus, the blood supply to the uterus increases dramatically. Even at this early stage, it starts to increase in size, and this can cause cramps very similar to those you may get just before your period. Don't panic! Cramping and funny pains may be felt all the way through your pregnancy. This tends to be because the uterus doesn't just float there in your abdomen, it's held in place by connective tissue that all has to stretch to accommodate your expanding baby. Don't forget that your entire lower abdomen gets completely rearranged by all this - and who knows where the ovaries end up! Curling up with a hot water bottle can help. Need to urinate more often You may notice a need to urinate more often - the bladder is so close to the uterus that its own blood supply is increased too. It seems terribly unfair to be getting up every few hours in the night already, but look on it as practice for later, and be grateful you don't have to change diapers yet. The best way to avoid sleep interruptions is to drinkl less in the evening. However, it's important to ensure that you don't become dehydrated either. Spotting Several ladies experience spotting at 6-8 weeks of pregnancy, and to a woman, we all panic, thinking we are losing our babies. What we were actually experiencing was "implantation spotting" - when the embryo burrows into the wall of your womb, it can cause spotting - just a bit of dark brown blood. A scan showed that all was well, and even picked up a heartbeat in some instances. So if you do experience this, it's probably nothing to worry about, but if the blood is red, or you have crampy pains, do seek medical advice immediately. Mucus You may have been charting your waking temperatures and cervical mucus while trying to conceive. If not, and you find the concept of mucus a bit icky, you'd best get used to it, because it gets worse!! Pregnancy is EXTREMELY biological, and not very glamourous! Anyway, due to the increase in blood flow to the soft tissues of the body, you may well find that not only does your vaginal discharge increase (causing you to leave snail trails all over the place), but also your nasal mucus... Nice. There are some of us who have had a runny nose since conception... It's nothing that can't be dealt with by a panty liner, although blowing your nose on one might get you a few strange looks. As long as the vaginal mucus is clear or white, and doesn't smell nasty, it's nothing to worry about. Just avoid sliding down banisters for a while. Morning Sickness Some women get it, some don't. Nobody really knows what causes it, but it is believed to be linked to low blood sugar and the elevated levels of progesterone in the bloodstream. Some have even gone so far as to call it "progesterone poisoning". In many cases, it starts very early on, around the time of your first missed period, and tends to wear off at 12-14 weeks. However, one member didn't get any until 11 weeks, and it's still there at 20! Some really unlucky ladies suffer all the way through pregnancy. One of the most frequent cry for is for ideas to quell the morning sickness. Perhaps we should refer to it as morning, noon and night sickness, as it really can hit at any time. Suggestions for relief have included (in no particular order): Ginger biscuits, ginger beer, anything with ginger in (it helps many, but not all sufferers) Fizzy drinks, especially lemonade Dry crackers Clear soup Basically, if it will stay down, eat it. Medics recommend eating little and often - don't let yourself get too hungry. Do try to take a good prenatal vitamin, and your baby won't suffer. Extreme cases of morning sickness can require hospitalisation for a few days, mainly to prevent dehydration. Many ladies lose a bit of weight due to this, but the baby is taking everything it needs before you get any of it, so don't worry. Some people have found acupressure wrist bands - usually sold for travel sickness - help too. Headaches Often referred to as hormonal headaches, these can make life pretty miserable, especially as the only thing we pregnant ladies can take for them is paracetamol (known as Tylenol in the U.S.). The best thing is loads of water, as dehydration can make it so much worse. Stopping for a catnap can also help a bit too. Fatigue As with morning sickness, some ladies find this worse than others. The books will lead you to believe that you will feel pretty drained for the first three months, feel full of beans for the middle three, and tired again for the last three. This is not always the case. Some ladies feel fine all the way through, some feel exhausted all the way through. We have one member who could happily manage 23 hours sleep in 24, and at halfway through, still has to have a little lie down after making a cup of tea. Sometimes, you may get overcome with the overwhelming desire to just go to sleep for a bit. Don't fight it, there is no point, you will lose. It can be a bit tricky if nobody knows about your pregnancy, but if you can, shut your eyes for ten minutes or so. Our advice would be, sleep when you can, just be led by what your body is telling you to do! Backache Right from the word go, you may get backaches low down. This is caused by a hormone called relaxin, which loosens all your joints to allow a baby to pass through your pelvis. It can also make your feet grow up to a size too, and this is irreversible, but that's another story. The increased blood flow to the area may also contribute to the ache. Later on, the weight out front will pull on your lower spine, which also makes it ache. Rubbing it, a warm (not hot) bath and lots of tea and sympathy from your partner also help! Aching hips It is recommended you sleep on your side during pregnancy, particularly your left, as it provides the best blood flow to your baby. This can cause achy hips - we're not quite sure why! A body pillow can help allieviate this a bit, try putting it between your knees while lying on your side. Sore breasts Blood flow to your breasts increases very early on, as they start to make all the milk producing glands and ducts. Some women noticed a significant increase in size in the first few weeks, and it is very important to get measured for a well fitting maternity bra. Breasts can also be very tender - the best advice is to leave yourself a little more space in doorways than you are used to, to avoid walking into them! You might also notice the nipples and aureolae darkening a little, or veins becoming more obvious. They can take on a life of their own during early pregnancy, so look after them, and wih any luck, they won't be hovering round your knees in later life. Note Not everyone gets any of the above pregnancy symptoms.