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Could you be pregnant? For some women, the earliest symptoms of pregnancy appear in the first few weeks after conception.
But even before you miss a period, you may suspect – or hope – that you’re pregnant.
For some women, early symptoms of pregnancy begin in the first few weeks after conception.
Pregnancy symptoms can also vary in their intensity, frequency and duration.
The following early signs and symptoms of pregnancy checklist are only a guideline.
Many early pregnancy symptoms can appear similar to routine pre-menstrual discomforts.
Visiting the Doctor
Find a good health care provider.
If you don’t already have an OB/GYN doctor or midwife that you feel comfortable with, start doing some research or ask friends and family for referrals.
Good prenatal care is extremely important throughout your pregnancy, and you want to choose a doctor or a midwife that you feel comfortable with.
Tender, swollen breasts
Fatigue and tiredness also ranks high among early symptoms of pregnancy.
During early pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone soar.
In high enough doses, progesterone can put you to sleep.
At the same time, lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and increased blood production may team up to sap your energy during your pregnancy.
Slight bleeding or cramping
Sometimes a small amount of spotting or vaginal bleeding is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy.
Known as implantation bleeding, it happens when the fertilised egg attaches to the lining of the uterus – about 10 to 14 days after fertilisation.
This type of bleeding is usually a bit earlier, spottier and lighter in colour than a normal period and doesn’t last as long.
Some women also experience abdominal cramping early in pregnancy.
These cramps are similar to menstrual cramps.
Nausea with or without vomiting
Morning sickness, which can strike at any time of the day or night, is one of the classic symptoms of pregnancy.
For some women, the queasiness begins as early as two weeks after conception.
Nausea seems to stem at least in part from rapidly rising levels of estrogen, which causes the stomach to empty more slowly.
Pregnant women also have a heightened sense of smell, so various odors – such as foods cooking, perfume or cigarette smoke – may cause waves of nausea in early pregnancy.
There are some hints and tips to help combat the effects of morning sickness.
Food aversions or cravings
When you’re pregnant, you might find yourself turning up your nose at certain foods, such as coffee or fried foods.
Food cravings are common too.
Like most other symptoms of pregnancy, these food preferences can be chalked up to hormonal changes – especially in the first trimester, when hormonal changes are the most dramatic.
Early in pregnancy, increased blood circulation caused by hormonal changes may trigger frequent, mild headaches.
Constipation is another common early symptom of pregnancy.
An increase in progesterone causes food to pass more slowly through the intestines, which can lead to constipation.
The flood of hormones in your body in early pregnancy can make you unusually emotional and weepy.
Mood swings also are common, especially in the first trimester.
Faintness and dizziness
As your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure drops, you may feel lightheaded or dizzy.
Early in pregnancy, faintness also may be triggered by low blood sugar.
Raised basal body temperature
Your basal body temperature is your oral temperature when you first wake up in the morning.
This temperature increases slightly soon after ovulation and remains at that level until your next period.
If you’ve been charting your basal body temperature to determine when you ovulate, its continued elevation for more than two weeks may mean that you’re pregnant.
Perhaps the most obvious early symptom of pregnancy is when you’ve missed your period.
This possible sign of pregnancy is often what causes women to search for more details about the other pregnancy symptoms.
Some women might only experience a much lighter period compared to their usual.
You might not experience any of the pregnancy signs listed below until around the time you notice you’ve missed your monthly cycle.
Just "Feeling" Pregnant
This early pregnancy symptom may be the reason why you are checking this list right now.
Many women believe they have an intuition about pregnancy signs.
Their intuition is often proven correct.
Maybe you just feel different; tired, moody, queasy, lightheaded.
You may also have heartburn, constipation, or find yourself making more frequent trips to the toilet.
Perhaps you feel a dull ache or stiffness in your lower back, you have sore breasts or they seem overly sensitive, or you are simply not feeling like your usual self.
How can you really tell if you are pregnant?
Unfortunately, these symptoms aren’t unique to pregnancy.
Some can indicate that you’re getting sick or that your period is about to start.
Likewise, you can be pregnant without experiencing any of these symptoms.
Still, if you miss a period or notice any of the tip-offs on this list, you might want to take a home pregnancy test – especially if you’re not keeping track of your menstrual cycle or if it varies widely from one month to the next.
If your home pregnancy test is positive, make an appointment with your health care provider.
The sooner your pregnancy is confirmed, the sooner you can begin prenatal care.
If you are worried about possible early symptoms of pregnancy, you can put your mind at ease with a pregnancy test.
More than just a pregnancy symptom, this is scientific proof positive of whether you are expecting a baby or not.
Pregnancy tests work best if you wait to take them until at least a day or two after you miss your period.
Even if the pregnancy test result is negative you should try it again a few days later to be sure.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms
While pregnancy tests and ultrasounds are the only ways to determine if you’re pregnant, there are other signs and symptoms you can look out for.
The earliest signs of pregnancy are more than a missed period.
They may also include morning sickness, smell sensitivity, and fatigue.
When do the symptoms start?
Though it may sound odd, your first week of pregnancy is based on the date of your last menstrual period.
Your last menstrual period is considered week 1 of pregnancy, even if you weren’t actually pregnant yet.
The expected delivery date is calculated using the first day of your last period. For that reason, the first few weeks where you may not have symptoms also count toward your 40-week pregnancy.
- Signs and symptoms Timeline (from missed period)
- mild cramping and spotting week 1 to 4
- missed period week 4
- fatigue week 4 or 5
- nausea week 4 to 6
- tingling or aching breasts week 4 to 6
- frequent urination week 4 to 6
- bloating week 4 to 6
- motion sickness week 5 to 6
- mood swings week 6
- temperature changes week 6
- high blood pressure week 8
- extreme fatigue and heartburn week 9
- faster heartbeat week 8 to 10
- breast and nipple changes week 11
- acne week 11
- noticeable weight gain week 11
- pregnancy glow week 12
Cramping and spotting during early pregnancy
From week 1 to week 4, everything is still happening on a cellular level.
The fertilized egg creates a blastocyst (a fluid-filled group of cells) that will develop into the baby’s organs and body parts.
About 10 to 14 days (week 4) after conception, the blastocyst will implant in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.
This can cause implantation bleeding, which may be mistaken for a light period.
Here are some signs of implantation bleeding:
Color: The color of each episode may be pink, red, or brown.
Bleeding: Bleeding is usually compared to your regular menstrual period.
Spotting is defined by blood present only when wiping.
Pain: Pain may be mild, moderate, or severe.
According to a study of 4,539 womenTrusted Source, 28 percent of women associated their spotting and light bleeding with pain.
Episodes: Implantation bleeding is likely to last less than three days and doesn’t require treatment.
Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, or using illicit drugs, which are associated with heavy bleeding.
Missed period during early pregnancy
Once implantation is complete, your body will begin producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
This hormone helps the body maintain the pregnancy.
It also tells the ovaries to stop releasing mature eggs each month.
You will likely miss your next period four weeks after conception.
If you have an irregular period, you’ll want to take a pregnancy test to confirm.
Most home tests can detect hCG as soon as eight days after a missed period.
A pregnancy test will be able to detect hCG levels in your urine and show if you are pregnant.
Raised body temperature during early pregnancy
A higher basal body temperature may also be a sign of pregnancy.
Your body’s core temperature may also increase more easily during exercise or in hot weather.
During this time, you’ll need to make sure to drink more water and exercise cautiously.
Fatigue during early pregnancy
Fatigue can develop any time during pregnancy.
This symptom is common in early pregnancy.
Your progesterone levels will soar, which can make you feel sleepy.
Increased heart rate during early pregnancy
Around weeks 8 to 10, your heart may begin pumping faster and harder.
Palpitations and arrhythmias are common in pregnancy.
This is normally due to hormones.
Increased blood flow due to the fetus happens later in pregnancy.
Ideally, management starts before conception, but if you have an underlying heart problem, your doctor can help supervise low dosages of drugs.
Early changes to breasts: Tingling, aching, growing
Breast changes can occur between weeks 4 and 6.
You’re likely to develop tender and swollen breasts due to hormone changes.
This is likely to go away after a few weeks when your body has adjusted to the hormones.
Nipple and breast changes can also occur around week 11.
Hormones continue to cause your breasts to grow.
The areola — the area around the nipple — may change to a darker color and grow larger.
If you’ve had bouts with acne before your pregnancy, you may also experience breakouts again.
Changes in mood during early pregnancy
Your estrogen and progesterone levels will be high during pregnancy.
This increase can affect your mood and make you more emotional or reactive than usual.
Mood swings are common during pregnancy and may cause feelings of depression, irritability, anxiety, and euphoria.
Frequent urination and incontinence during early pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body increase the amount of blood it pumps.
This causes the kidney to process more fluid than usual, which leads to more fluid in your bladder.
Hormones also play a large role in bladder health.
You may find yourself running to the bathroom more frequently or accidentally leaking.
Bloating and constipation during early pregnancy
Similar to symptoms of a menstrual period, bloating may occur during early pregnancy.
This may be due to hormone changes, which can also slow your digestive system down.
You may feel constipated and blocked as a result.
Constipation can also increase feelings of abdominal bloating.
Morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting during early pregnancy
Nausea and morning sickness usually develops around weeks 4 to 6.
Although it’s called morning sickness, it can occur any time during the day or night.
It’s unclear exactly what causes nausea and morning sickness, but hormones may play a role.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, many women experience mild to severe morning sickness.
It may become more intense toward the end of the first trimester, but often becomes less severe as you enter the second trimester
High blood pressure and dizziness during early pregnancy
In most cases, high or normal blood pressure will drop in the early stages of pregnancy.
This may also cause feelings of dizziness, since your blood vessels are dilated.
High blood pressure as a result of pregnancy is more difficult to determine.
Almost all cases of hypertension within the first 20 weeks indicate underlying problems.
It may develop during early pregnancy, but it may also be present beforehand.
Your doctor will take your blood pressure during your first visit to help establish a baseline for a normal blood pressure reading
Smell sensitivity and food aversions during early pregnancy
Smell sensitivity is a symptom of early pregnancy that is mostly self-reported.
There’s little scientific evidence about smell sensitivity during the first trimester.
But it may be important, as smell sensitivity may trigger nausea and vomiting.
It may also cause strong distaste for certain foods.
One reviewTrusted Source looked at reports from 1922 to 2014 about the relationship between smells and pregnancy.
The researcher found a trend that pregnant women tended to rate odors as more intense during their first trimester
Weight gain during early pregnancy
Weight gain becomes more common toward the end of your first trimester.
You may find yourself gaining about 1 to 4 pounds in the first few months.
The calorie requirements for early pregnancy won’t change much from your usual diet, but they will increase as pregnancy progresses.
In the later stages, pregnancy weight often spreads out between the:
- breasts (about 1 to 3 pounds)
- uterus (about 2 pounds)
- placenta (1 1/2 pounds)
- amniotic fluid (about 2 pounds)
- increased blood and fluid volume (about 5 to 7 pounds)
- fat (6 to 8 pounds)
Heartburn during early pregnancy
Hormones can cause the valve between your stomach and esophagus to relax.
This allows stomach acid to leak, causing heartburn.
Pregnancy glow and acne during early pregnancy
Many people may begin saying you have the “pregnancy glow.”
The combination of increased blood volume and higher hormone levels pushes more blood through your vessels.
This causes the body’s oil glands to work overtime.
This increased activity of your body’s oil glands gives your skin a flushed, glossy appearance.
On the other hand, you may also develop acne.
Pregnancy glow and acne during early pregnancy
Many of the body changes and symptoms of pregnancy you experience in the first trimester will start to fade once you reach the second trimester.
Talk with your doctor about any symptoms that interfere with your daily life.
Together, you can find relief and comfort for your pregnancy.