Are you pregnant? Look for these early pregnancy symptoms. Some of these first signs of pregnancy can show up just a few short weeks after conception.
Before you even pass that pregnancy test and know for sure that you’ve got a baby on board, you may get a heads-up in the form of some early pregnancy symptoms.
But because many of these early signs of pregnancy will be similar to symptoms you have right before you get your period, it may be hard to tell the difference.
While pregnancy tests and your practitioner can offer definitive answers, here are 11 telltale early pregnancy symptoms that may reveal you’re expecting:
It might be stating the obvious, but if you’ve missed a period (especially if your periods usually run like clockwork), you’re probably suspecting pregnancy, and for good reason. A missed period is one early pregnancy symptom all expectant moms experience!
Some women have what seems to be an unusually short or light period after they’ve already gotten pregnant. It’s actually often implantation bleeding (more on that below), but it can be mistaken for your last menstrual period. So you may not realize you missed your period, at least at first.
Imagine climbing a mountain without training while carrying a backpack that weighs a little more every day. That’s pregnancy in a nutshell!
In other words, it’s hard work, which is why fatigue is an early pregnancy symptom almost every mom-to-be experiences.
When you get pregnant, a huge amount of energy goes into building a placenta, the life-support system for your baby. All that can zap you of your usual get-up-and-go, and cause pregnancy fatigue shortly after you conceive.
A heightened sense of smell is an early pregnancy symptom that makes previously mild odors strong and unappealing. Since it’s one of the first symptoms of pregnancy many women report, babies might be in the air if your sniffer’s suddenly more sensitive and easily offended.
Morning sickness or nausea
That telltale, queasy feeling known as morning sickness can hit you at any time of day — and it typically begins when you’re about 6 weeks pregnant, though it can vary and strike even earlier.
Hormones, mainly increased levels of progesterone (though estrogen and hCG can also take some credit), can cause the stomach to empty more slowly, resulting in this early pregnancy symptom resembling seasickness.
Your extra-sensitive nose may be responsible for another early sign of pregnancy: food aversions, where the thought, sight or smell of certain foods you normally like can turn your stomach (or worse, contribute to your morning sickness).
This early pregnancy symptom can be triggered by anything from chicken (a common one) to something seemingly more benign, like salad.
Though this isn’t one of the very early signs of pregnancy, it does tend to pop up in the first trimester. Blame those pregnancy hormones again, especially early on when your body is flooded with them and still getting used to all the hormonal changes. Don’t worry: This early pregnancy symptom often passes by the second trimester, when things have settled down in there.
Yet again, blame those pregnancy-related hormonal changes for the mood swings you may be experiencing once you’re expecting. As early as 4 weeks into your pregnancy, you may feel a PMS-style moodiness; later in the first trimester and often throughout the rest of pregnancy, you could be up one minute and anxious or down the next.
Aside from pregnancy hormones running amok, your life is about to change in a big way, so it’s completely normal for your moods to go haywire. Do what you can to give yourself a break, eat well, get enough sleep and pamper yourself. Deep breaths! It’s all going to be okay.
Tender, swollen breasts and darkening, bumpy areolas are among the breast changes you might experience early in pregnancy. The hormones estrogen and progesterone deserve most of the credit (or the blame) for this early pregnancy symptom. The breast tenderness is pain with a gain, though, since it’s part of your body’s preparation for the milk-making to come.
Your areolas (the circles around your nipples) may get darker and increase in diameter. You’ll also likely start to notice tiny bumps growing in size and number on your areolas. These bumps, called Montgomery’s tubercles, were always there, but now they’re gearing up to produce more oils that lubricate your nipples once baby starts nursing.
Two to three weeks after conception you may notice an increased need to pee. This new gotta-go feeling usually crops up two to three weeks after conception and is due to the pregnancy hormone hCG, which increases blood flow to your kidneys, helping them to more efficiently rid your body (and, eventually, your baby’s body) of waste.
Your growing uterus is also beginning to put some pressure on your bladder, leaving less storage space for urine and making you head for the toilet more frequently.
Having trouble buttoning your jeans? Early pregnancy bloating is hard to distinguish from pre-period bloat, but it’s an early pregnancy symptom that many women feel soon after they conceive.
You can’t blame that puffy, ate-too-much feeling on your baby yet, but you can blame it on the hormone progesterone, which helps slow down digestion, giving the nutrients from foods you eat more time to enter your bloodstream and reach your baby.
Unfortunately, bloating is often accompanied by constipation. Getting the right amount of fiber in your diet can help keep you regular.
Raised basal body temperature
If you’ve been using a special basal body thermometer to track your first morning temperature, you might notice that it rises around 1 degree when you conceive and stays elevated throughout your pregnancy.
Though not a foolproof early pregnancy symptom (there are other reasons your temp can rise), it could give you advance notice of the big news.
For up to 30 percent of new moms, light spotting or implantation bleeding before you’d expect your period (around six to 12 days after conception) is sometimes an early pregnancy symptom signaling that an embryo has implanted itself into the uterine wall, which may or may not be accompanied by menstrual-like cramps.
How soon can you get pregnancy symptoms?
Very early pregnancy symptoms (like sensitivity to smell and tender breasts) may show up before you miss your period, as soon as a few days after conception, while other early signs of pregnancy (like spotting) might appear around one week after sperm meets egg. Still others (like urinary frequency) often appear about two weeks or so following conception.
That said, early pregnancy symptoms crop up at different times in different women. Some experience very few (if any) of these signs until several weeks into their pregnancies.
Though many women never feel any early pregnancy symptoms, others suffer from them all. If you’ve missed your period and are experiencing fatigue, morning sickness, spotting and tender breasts, you may just want to grab yourself a home pregnancy test — and then drop by the doctor’s for a blood test to confirm it.
No matter what symptoms you’re having, the only way to know for sure that you’re pregnant is to make an appointment with your OB/GYN.
Be sure to schedule the visit as early as you can so you can get the best care possible right from the start if it does turn out that you’re experiencing early pregnancy symptoms. And if you are expecting a baby, congratulations! You’re embarking on the journey of a lifetime.
- Source: What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Health information on this site is based on peer-reviewed medical journals and highly respected health organizations and institutions including ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), as well as the What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff.