What are the early signs of pregnancy? The symptoms to first look out for when you’re expecting

·4 min read
Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Pregnancy is a huge life-changing experience. Bringing another human into this crazy world is no small task.

Knowing the early signs of pregnancy can help you prepare for what’s to come and make important decisions about your body. There are lots of indications that you may be expecting, even before you take a pregnancy test.

When do pregnancy symptoms start?

Noticeable signs of pregnancy typically begin 10 to 14 days after conception, when the fertilized egg creates a fluid-filled group of cells called a blastocyst. The blastocyst will eventually become the infant’s organs and body parts. At around days 10 to 14, the blastocyst implants itself in the uterine lining or endometrium. This may cause cramping and implantation bleeding, commonly known as spotting. However, not everyone experiences spotting, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Every person’s body is different. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), some women experience symptoms as early as within a week of conception and as late as a few weeks after.

Early pregnancy signs you should look out for:

  • Missed period. If you aren’t in the pre or post-menopausal stage and miss a period for a week a more, it could mean you’re pregnant. But it’s important to remember that there can be numerous underlying causes of missed periods like an irregular menstrual cycle. Irregular periods can be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome, too much exercise, stress and more.

  • Light spotting. While not everyone spots, implantation bleeding is when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus lining can cause spotting 10 to 14 days after conception.

  • Fatigue. Progesterone levels increase during early pregnancy, which can make you feel sleepy and tired. Fatigue can begin the first week after conception, according to the APA.

  • Tender or swollen breasts. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy can make your breasts sensitive and sore. These changes can occur as early as one to two weeks after conception.

  • Nausea and/or vomiting. So-called “morning sickness” can occur at any time during the day. It typically starts after one month of pregnancy. This usually appears six to eight weeks after conception.

  • Increased urination. Because the amount of blood you produce increases during pregnancy, your kidneys must process extra fluid that results in more trips to the bathroom. This also occurs between six to eight weeks.

  • Moodiness. Hormonal changes can cause atypical mood swings.

  • Bloating. These same hormonal changes may make you feel bloated, similar to how you may feel when menstruating.

  • Food aversions. You may experience sensitivity to certain tastes and even a heightened sense of smell.

Other symptoms that may occur with, but are not limited to, early pregnancy:

  • Cramps. Mild uterine cramps can also be a sign of pregnancy.

  • Constipation. Hormonal changes may cause your digestive system to slow, which can result in constipation.

  • Nasal congestion. The increase in hormone levels and blood production may lead your nose’s mucous membranes to swell, dry or bleed. This can cause a runny or stuffy nose.

  • Headache. Some people may experience more frequent headaches.

  • Metallic taste in mouth. Hormone changes may cause a sour or metallic taste in the mouth, even if you’re not eating.

Does having these symptoms mean that I am pregnant?

Not all pregnancy symptoms are exclusive to pregnancy, and not everyone experiences every symptom. However, if you miss a period and experience some of these signs, you should opt for an at-home early pregnancy test.

When should I take a pregnancy test?

Take an at-home pregnancy test if you miss a period and experience some of the symptoms above. Pregnancy tests work by measuring human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone the placenta forms after conception. The body needs to develop enough HCG for the pregnancy test to work effectively. It’s best to wait until one day after your first missed period to take the pregnancy for the most accurate results.

If your test comes back positive, schedule an appointment with your doctor to confirm the pregnancy. If the result is negative, your period remains irregular and you have other symptoms, repeat the test in few days or a week.

What should I do if I think I’m pregnant?

If you suspect you’re pregnant, the first thing you should do is confirm it with an at-home pregnancy test and if positive, visit your doctor. Be prepared to discuss any pre-existing medical conditions, medications, lifestyle behaviors, like drinking and smoking, and any other concerns with your physician.

To assist you in your pregnancy plan, check out our features on the best pre-and postnatal exercises, how to satisfy pregnancy cravings with healthy foods and products that can help your baby move.

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