Pregnancy is a unique experience for all women. Some women suspect that they may be pregnant even before they miss their period, while others don’t notice anything at all. While the only way to know for sure that you re pregnant is a pregnancy test, your body does start showing you subtle signs that there may be a baby on board. Other than the missed period, early symptoms of pregnancy can include morning sickness, fatigue, tender breasts, and an increased need to pee.
Read on to learn more about the early pregnancy symptoms and signs and why they occur.
1. Missed period
A missed period is the most obvious sign of pregnancy. Once you conceive, your body starts producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that stops ovulation and the shedding of the uterine lining. This means you will not get your period until after you give birth.
However, a missed period is not always a sign of pregnancy. You can also miss your period due to stress, hormonal imbalance, dieting, or excessive exercise.
2. Slight bleeding and cramping
Almost 25% of all pregnant women experience slight spotting during the early stages of their pregnancy. This happens when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus and is known as implantation bleeding. This bleeding is slightly lighter in color as compared to menstrual blood and it happens around 6 to 12 days after conception. Implantation bleeding is often accompanied by light spotting.
3. Breast tenderness
Hormonal changes after conception can make your breasts tender, sore, and tingly. They may also feel fuller and heavier. Your veins may become more visible and your areolas darken. As your body gets used to the new levels of hormones over the weeks, your breast tenderness will ease.
Nausea is one of the classic symptoms of early pregnancy. it can start as early as two weeks into pregnancy. The increased levels of progesterone in the body can cause the contents of the stomach to empty slowly and this can result in nausea.
For most women, this symptom eases around the 14th week of pregnancy. Eating saltine crackers and staying hydrated can help. Some women also develop a condition that causes severe vomiting during pregnancy known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
It is common to feel very tired during the early stages of pregnancy. High levels of progesterone in the body, lower levels of blood sugar, low blood pressure, and a boosts in blood production can all contribute to your low energy levels.
Eat food that is rich in iron and protein and get enough sleep to offset this tiredness.
6. Increased urination
You may feel the need to empty your bladder more often during the first few weeks of pregnancy. The higher levels of hCG hormone in the body during pregnancy increase the blood flow to the pelvic region, which makes women urinate more often.
7. Bloating and constipation
You may also feel bloated during the first few weeks of pregnancy. The increased level of progesterone in the body causes the smooth muscle tissue to relax and this can slow down digestion. Slow digestion can lead to bloating and constipation.
Drink plenty of water, exercise, and eat high-fiber food to ease bloating and constipation.
Mood swings are common during pregnancy. The high levels of estrogen and progesterone can make you more emotional and reactive than normal. Physical stresses, fatigue, and changes in metabolism can also cause mood swings during early pregnancy (1).
9. Food aversions or cravings
During early pregnancy, you may find that you do not like the smell and taste of certain foods that you used to enjoy earlier. Like other symptoms of pregnancy, these too can be attributed to hormonal changes.
According to a 2014 study, many women report a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, which can lead to the onset of nausea and vomiting (2).
10. Nasal congestion
A stuffy or runny nose Is often the sign of early pregnancy. An increase in estrogen levels can cause the mucous membranes in your nose to swell, dry out and bleed. If you think you are pregnant, consult with your doctor before you take decongestants.
11. Raised basal body temperature
The basal body temperature is the temperature of the body at complete rest. Your basal body temperature rises slightly after ovulation and remains at that level till your next period. The continued elevation of his temperature for over two weeks indicates that you are pregnant. There are many other reasons why your body temperature may rise, so high basal body temperature alone cannot indicate pregnancy.
12. Increased heart rate
During the first trimester of your pregnancy, your heart rate can increase by 15 to 20 beats per minute. The increase in estrogen and progesterone levels causes these changes. This change in heart rate is an indication to your heart to provide more blood for the development of the fetus.
13. Dizziness and fainting
Dizziness and lightheadedness are common during early pregnancy. Hormonal changes and increased blood volume cause these symptoms.
There may be many reasons why you are having headaches during the first few weeks of your pregnancy. Your changing hormone levels and blood volume may have a role to play. Sometimes stress fatigue and eyestrain can also lead to headaches. Nasal congestion due to hormonal changes can also lead to headaches.
Heartburn is common during the first few months of pregnancy. The high levels of progesterone relax the muscles in the lower esophagus that help to keep the food and acids down in the stomach. This muscle relaxation can lead to heartburn.
16. Skin changes
An increase in blood circulation during early pregnancy can make your skin look more rosy and shiny. People often refer to this as pregnancy glow. However, pregnancy hormones can also make your skin more oily, which can cause acne flare-ups.
17. Vivid dreams
Many women have vivid dreams during pregnancy. Hormonal fluctuations and anxiety can make your dreams more intense. Since you may also have to wake up during the night to use the bathroom, you may remember your dream more vividly.
How soon do you develop early pregnancy symptoms?
You may develop some symptoms like sensitivity to smell and tender breasts even before you miss your period. Other pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue may come later. Often some women have an intuition that they are pregnant as they feel different.
Is it possible to have early pregnancy symptoms and not be pregnant?
Many early pregnancy symptoms like cramps and headaches match with those of your menstrual cycle. You may miss your period due to hormonal imbalance or excessive weight loss or weight gain. There are many early pregnancy symptoms that match with those of other medical conditions. So, it is always wiser to take a home pregnancy test before jumping to conclusions.
When should you call your doctor?
If you have noticed some of these symptoms and have also missed your period, you can take a pregnancy test to confirm that you are pregnant. Home pregnancy tests are more reliable from the first day of your missed period, although some tests can be used as early as four or five days before your period is due. If you get a positive result on your home pregnancy test, call your doctor and schedule an appointment.
Every woman is different and so is her experience of pregnancy. You could have all of the above symptoms of early pregnancy or have just one or two. In fact, you may not have the same symptoms during your next pregnancy.
No, matter what your symptoms; you must schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN once you have confirmed that you are pregnant. Schedule an appointment as early as possible so that you can get the best possible care and advice right from the start.