Am I pregnant, or could my period be coming? Did I eat something weird? If you're trying to conceive (or even if you're not), you may feel hypersensitive to changes in your body.
A few early signals may be the first tell-tale sign that you may be expecting.
From cramping to food cravings and fatigue, pregnant women experience various physical and emotional changes during the early stages of pregnancy. However, these can also be signs of other health conditions, so it is essential to understand the differences between common pregnancy symptoms and other medical issues.
In this article, we'll explore the most common early pregnancy signs and discuss how to differentiate them from other potential issues.
A Realistic Warning for Women Trying To Conceive
The road to pregnancy can be exciting, terrifying, or a mix of both. While it's easier said than done, it's essential to do your best not to get too caught up in analyzing every little symptom.
How do you do that? Take a deep breath, tune into your body, and trust your body as best you can. Oh, and stock up on pregnancy tests. I recommend purchasing them in bulk online rather than buying those super overpriced ones at your local pharmacy.
Navigating The Gray Area of Pregnancy
There is a period between conception and when you can confirm with a home pregnancy test. During this time, your head may be swimming with all the possibilities. That's likely why you've found yourself on this post and down the rabbit hole of pregnancy forums.
So, let's get to it and review the early signs of pregnancy.
19 Common Early Signs of Pregnancy
Maybe you've got a hunch or just missed your period – for whatever reason, you're wondering if you're pregnant. Some women experience pregnancy symptoms within the first few weeks, while others will develop symptoms later (or not at all). Each woman's experience is unique.
The top 19 most common signs of pregnancy in the first one to six weeks include:
1. Missed Period
The most obvious symptom of early pregnancy symptom is a missed period. Although, some women will continue to have their period throughout pregnancy too. Also, women with irregular menstrual cycles may find it harder to determine what's happening.
2. Implantation Bleeding and Spotting
Some women experience light spotting or bleeding, called implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding occurs around ten to fourteen days after conception when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. It might seem like an expected menstrual cycle (period), but it is typically a much lighter bleed.
3. Nausea and Vomiting
Pregnancy nausea, known as morning sickness, can occur at any time of the day. These symptoms can appear as early as a few days after conception. Nausea morning sickness can be present with or without vomiting. It is most common in the first trimester when significant pregnancy hormone changes occur. Many women feel nausea earlier in their pregnancy.
Thankfully, these symptoms should level out later when pregnancy hormones typically balance out.
4. Breast Tenderness
Hormonal change can leave your breasts tired, sore, heavy, or full. You may notice they start to feel uncomfortable in tight clothing. Pregnancy hormonal changes that surge throughout the body can cause tender, swollen breasts. Plus, other changes might make the breast tissue change. For example, the nipples may darken noticeably.
Fatigue also ranks high among early symptoms of pregnancy. Some women will likely feel extra tired or run down throughout pregnancy. It may feel challenging to complete your regular daily routine. You may crave sleep and feel like you could spend days (and nights) deep in slumber.
Food cravings are very common during the first trimester. You'll often comfort foods from childhood. However, they can also be random or even non-food related. For example, some women crave dirt or ice.
Along with cravings, there may suddenly be an aversion to your favorite foods or drink. New food aversions can be an “aha” moment for some women wondering if they're pregnant when their once favorite meal, snack, or drink (like coffee) suddenly tastes sour or off.
Gas and bloating of the digestive tract can range from mild to extreme. Hormonal changes of early pregnancy start to slow down the body's digestion. Slower digestion allows the body to absorb more nutrients from the food that the body ingests to help that baby grow.
9. Mood Swings
The emotional roller coaster of pregnancy can sometimes leave you somewhat off balance. In particular, some women report feeling sad or crying from events that usually wouldn't bother them.
Irritability is similar to mood swings. A short temper or bouts of anger that are out of character may arise. Crankiness can often be confused with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) as well.
11. Increased Urination
Frequent trips to the bathroom are also common during early pregnancy. A woman's body increases its blood volume by an average of 45% in the first few weeks. Thus, the body has to process extra fluid. If you get up in the middle of the night to pee, you might be pregnant.
12. Light Cramping
Some women experience mild cramps in their lower abdomen during early pregnancy. They may be cyclical at certain times of the day or seemingly random. If cramping gets more intense or involves heavier bleeding, it might be time to talk to your doctor.
13. Feeling Congested
Congestion and a stuffy nose might occur due to hormone changes that make the mucous membranes dry and swollen.
14. Changes in Appetite or Thirst
Hunger pains and extreme thirst are common during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. The new demand on your body for growing a human and changes in hormone balance can all contribute.
15. Changes in Basal Body Temperature and Temperature Tolerance
Some women track their ovulation based on higher basal metabolic temperatures, evident when taking a temperature (36.4°C/97.6°F to 37°C/98.6°F). A woman's temperature will stay elevated if conception occurs. Some women report feeling overheated or more sensitive to the environmental temperature than usual.
16. Aches and Pains
Women can experience mild aches and pains in the back or pelvis. A hormone called relaxin is released during pregnancy to reduce stiffness in connective tissue as the body prepares for eventual childbirth.
Headaches can occur throughout pregnancy due to fluctuating hormones and changes in blood flow (aka more to the uterus and growing placenta). Headaches can also signify high blood pressure, so talk to your doctor.
18. Heightened Senses
Some women start to feel like basset hounds after falling pregnant. Suddenly, they are much more sensitive to particular tastes and smells.
19. Metallic Taste in The Mouth
A metallic taste is a common experience for many pregnant women and occurs due to the increased level of hormones in the body. Plus, changes in taste preference can also accompany it.
Don't see your symptoms on the list? That doesn't mean you aren't (or are) pregnant. Check out this extensive list of unusual early pregnancy symptoms for other less common or hidden pregnancy symptoms.
Early Pregnancy Symptom FAQs
Now that you know more about early pregnancy symptoms, it's time to address some commonly asked questions.
How Soon Can You Take a Pregnancy Test
You can take a pregnancy test 10-14 days after conception. However, remember that some tests are more sensitive than others. You should take a test in the first week after you miss your period. Read the box of your test for individual recommendations.
How Soon Do Early Pregnancy Symptoms Start
Although not as common, it is possible to start noticing signs of early pregnancy, like the symptoms listed above, within the first week after conception. Rapid changes in hormones likely play a role in the development of symptoms. Symptoms within week one of pregnancy and beyond are possible.
Can You Feel Immediately Pregnant
It is possible to feel like you are pregnant even before you have taken a pregnancy test. The combination of hormonal changes and other physical symptoms can cause a feeling of pregnancy even before you are aware that you are pregnant. However, it is essential to remember that not all women experience these symptoms, and they vary from woman to woman.
Why Do I Feel Pregnant but Test Negative?
It is possible to feel pregnant but have a negative home pregnancy test. A false negative can occur due to the level of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin- a pregnancy hormone) in your body, which can take some time to reach a detectable level. Take another test in a few days if you still have signs or symptoms of early pregnancy.
When Should I Contact My Doctor
Unless you have concerns about your early symptoms due to the intensity or their effect on your daily life, you can typically wait to contact your doctor until you confirm your pregnancy with a positive test. They can then schedule you for your first prenatal visit, usually around the six to eight-week mark (determined by your last menstrual period).
If you continue to experience symptoms but don't test positive, you should still talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you determine the cause and provide proper treatment or management.
How Do I Determine My Due Date
You can determine your pregnancy due date with a due date calculator. All you need to know is the day of your last menstrual cycle, which will give you an estimated date.
Next Steps in Your Pregnancy Journey
If you read through this list and realize there's a good chance you're pregnant, you may wonder what your next steps are. Even when I was actively trying to conceive my first baby, I remember the news hit me like a stack of bricks when I realized my life was about to change forever. The process can feel overwhelming. Let's quickly review where to start:
- Confirm your pregnancy with a positive pregnancy test.
- Make an appointment with your doctor or midwife.
- Be kind and take care of yourself: support your body and growing baby!
- Try to enjoy all the moments, nine months go by fast, and it just goes faster.
- Start thinking about when and how you will announce your pregnancy when ready.
- If you're a planner (like many women are), you can start pulling out the checklists, ranging from baby items essentials to birth preparation.
Get The Support You Need
Regardless of your next steps, don't forget that you're not alone in this journey. Reach out to friends and family, join online pregnancy forums and support groups, or talk to your doctor for help navigating the early days of pregnancy.
Everyone experiences pregnancy differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to feeling secure and supported. Take the time to research and find what works best for you and your growing family. Good luck!
This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.
JayDee is a mom, writer, and Doctor of Physical Therapy. She’s passionate about helping women live their best lives through community and education. Outside of her work as a health and mom blogger, she loves traveling the world and exploring the great outdoors with her family.