Early Pregnancy Symptoms in the First Month
When exactly does the first month of pregnancy begin? What symptoms should you expect, and when should you expect them? These are all questions I had myself, and I'll answer them for you in this article.
Surprisingly, most women (myself included!) don't discover when their first month began until they're at the doctor's office having their due date calculated. While an ultrasound is still the most precise way to find out how long you've been pregnant, you can calculate roughly how far into your pregnancy you are based on your last menstrual period. I will discuss this method further along in the article.
In this article, you will find answers to the following questions:
- What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the first month?
- What if I don't have any symptoms?
- How many weeks pregnant am I?
- When does the first month of pregnancy begin?
- How can I be sure if I'm pregnant?
Symptoms of Pregnancy in the First Month
It's quite common to begin experiencing symptoms during your first month of pregnancy. However, as many early pregnancy symptoms are very similar to pre-menstrual symptoms, it is sometimes impossible to tell the difference. Though you will want to know sooner, the only sure way to know whether you are pregnant is through a pregnancy test, which you should take on the first day of your missed period.
The pregnancy symptoms that you may experience during the first month are numerous and varied. In addition to possible spotting and a missed period, they can include any of the symptoms typical of the first trimester, as well as symptoms usually associated with pre-menstruation.
Many of these symptoms are caused by the pregnancy hormones that begin to release in the mother's body when the embryo implants itself into her uterus, which is why some women feel symptoms so early. Below, you'll find a list of the most common signs and symptoms of pregnancy after one month.
Keep scrolling for detailed explanations of the symptoms above, including answers to many related FAQs.
This is also known as implantation bleeding and usually occurs approximately 10-14 days after conception. Implantation bleeding is typically lighter in color and flow than a normal period, though it's still easy to mistake one for the other. While spotting early in pregnancy isn’t unusual, you should still call your doctor if you experience this symptom. Even if it’s nothing (and often it isn’t) it can be a sign that something abnormal is going on with your pregnancy.
Can two periods in a month mean pregnancy?
Not necessarily. Having two periods in one month can happen for a variety of reasons, so don’t automatically assume you’re pregnant based on this alone. The average menstrual cycle should happen every 21 to 35 days and last from 2 to 7 days. If your periods are closer to the two-day range, you could easily get your period twice in a month (as if once wasn’t bad enough!). It all comes down to knowing yourself and knowing your cycle, as this will help you recognize if something doesn’t feel right.
In addition to being pregnant, here are a few other reasons you might get your period twice in one month:
You forgot to take your birth control.
You have fibroids or polyps.
You have an infection in your vagina or your cervix.
You have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
You have thyroid problems.
You have cancerous or precancerous cells.
If you experience extremely irregular or erratic periods, you should visit your doctor to see what’s going on.
Can you get your period and still be pregnant?
No. You cannot get your period while pregnant, even if you bleed in a way that seems like a normal period. Vaginal bleeding while pregnant can be due to a series of factors, some serious and some benign. Implantation bleeding is completely normal, and some spotting throughout the rest of your pregnancy isn’t necessarily a reason for concern if it happens after a vaginal exam, Pap smear, or sex.
If, however, you experience bleeding at other times during your pregnancy, you should see your doctor right away (even if the bleeding has stopped). Bleeding can be an indicator of something serious such as placental problems, infection, miscarriage, or an ectopic pregnancy, which can be life-threatening.
When is bleeding a miscarriage?
When it turns into heavy bleeding with tissue or clots. If you experience spotting that starts out light and becomes heavier, especially if you expel tissue or clots, it can be a sign of a miscarriage and you should call your doctor immediately. If you are eight weeks of fewer into your pregnancy, the tissue will look the same as it does during a heavy period. If, however, you are further along in your pregnancy, you may bleed more heavily and see the fetus and placenta.
Some women fail to realize that they have missed their periods because they mistake spotting for their menstrual cycles. This can sometimes lead to confusion with their due dates. If the bleeding is very light, you may have missed your period and be experiencing implantation bleeding. However, for women with irregular menstrual cycles or very light flows, this symptom may be misleading. For many women, a missed period is often the first noticeable symptom.
Are pregnancy symptoms different before and after your missed period?
Nope, they’re pretty much the same. Your symptoms won’t change much in the weeks immediately before and after your missed period.
This can also be a rather confusing symptom, but it may be more extreme than normal tenderness that develops before your period. This is because early pregnancy spurs a massive release of hormones that can cause breast soreness while your body adjusts to the changes. You might also notice visible veins on your breasts and your nipples becoming darker.
What does breast tenderness feel like in early pregnancy?
A lot like PMS. In the first few months of your pregnancy, your breasts can feel sore, swollen, and tender to the touch, as well as fuller and heavier. Unlike with PMS, however, this sensitivity can last for a good while as your progesterone levels continue to rise.
Is nipple soreness an early pregnancy sign?
It can be. Then again, pregnancy- and PMS-related nipple soreness can often seem quite similar. If your nipples are tender for more than a week, and this symptom is coupled with any of the others on this list, it may be worth taking a pregnancy test.
Are darker nipples a sign I might be pregnant?
Quite possibly. The darkening of your nipples—also known as melasma—is a slightly more noticeable sign (depending on your complexion). Darkening can also occur on the linea alba (the vertical line between the navel and pelvis) to become the linea nigra, as well as on the face (chloasma). This darkening is due to the increased production of melanin by the placenta. Women with darker complexions might not notice this until about 10 weeks into their pregnancy.
Some women experience mild, intermittent cramps during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Together with a late period, this might well signify pregnancy, though of course, these symptoms alone are not a sure indicator.
Does cramping mean miscarriage?
Not necessarily. Cramping may occur periodically throughout your entire pregnancy due to the stretching of the ligaments below the abdomen to make room for the growing fetus. Progesterone aids in this stretching. Cramping can occur in the first month of pregnancy for the same reason. Abdominal stretching begins early on (even though your embryo won’t become a fetus until the end of the first trimester!).
That being said, most miscarriages occur before 13 weeks, so it’s essential that you keep a close eye on the severity and frequency of your cramps, as long as any accompanying symptoms. If you’re experiencing intense, constant cramping paired with spotting or heavy bleeding, call your doctor immediately. These could be signs of a miscarriage.
Heavy cramping and severe pain on one side of your pelvis could also be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, which can be extremely serious. If you experience this type of pain, call your doctor immediately.
When should I call my doctor about cramping in early pregnancy?
Call your doctor immediately if your cramps are accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Unbearable pelvic pain
- Bleeding (especially if it's heavy or you pass tissue or clot-like material)
- Chills and/or fever
- Intense headache
- Sudden swelling of the feet, hands, and/or face
- Nausea and/or vomiting that doesn’t go away
Soaring progesterone levels in early pregnancy may cause you to feel sleepy. It also takes a lot of energy for your body to cope with the massive changes involved in a pregnancy and to support a growing baby!
How long does tiredness last in early pregnancy?
Roughly 12-14 weeks. Though this number may vary significantly from woman to woman, this is usually the amount of time it takes for your body to adjust to the massive changes going on to help your baby grow and for your exhaustion to subside. If, however, this isn’t your first time being pregnant and you’re taking care of another child, it’s likely that you will stay tired long after this benchmark (potentially up until the birth of your new baby—sorry!).
How many hours of sleep do I need while pregnant?
10-13 hours. The National Institute of Health recommends that pregnant women get a few more hours of sleep than they normally would, be that in one single stretch or broken up into a night of sleep and several naps during the day. No matter what, while pregnant, it’s important to schedule your sleep just as you’d schedule any other part of your day. This will ensure that you’re getting enough rest, even though many women report feeling exhausted even after 10+ hours of sleep in early pregnancy.
Morning Sickness and Nausea
Contrary to the name, this can actually happen at any time of day. This symptom usually occurs about a month into pregnancy, though some women may experience it earlier or never at all.
While some mild nausea and vomiting may occur, severe nausea and vomiting that results in the inability to hold down water and causes weight loss (hyperemesis gravidarum) needs to be addressed by a physician. This severe form of morning sickness is usually due to increased hormone levels.
Is morning sickness a sign of a healthy pregnancy?
Yes. A 2016 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked nausea and nausea with vomiting to a substantial reduction in the risk of pregnancy loss. BUT, this in no way means that your pregnancy is unhealthy or abnormal if you don’t experience these symptoms. Many women with perfectly healthy pregnancy never experience morning sickness.
This is caused by your kidneys working overtime to process the extra blood a pregnant body generates. The pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) boosts blood flow in the pelvic area, which also causes frequent urination. Later on, the same symptom will be caused by the baby putting pressure on your bladder.
Can I prevent frequent urination during pregnancy?
Sort of. While there’s nothing you can do to keep from peeing more than usual while pregnant, there are certain tricks that will help keep that number down to a minimum. Here are the top few:
Lean forward when you pee to completely empty your bladder.
Try “double-voiding” (peeing and then peeing again).
Don’t drink before bed (or at least limit your fluid intake before bedtime).
Ditch diuretics like caffeine.
While these strategies can be helpful, it’s important to remember not to reduce your fluid intake while pregnant. Voluntarily dehydrating yourself will only deprive your body of much-needed fluids and increase your chances of getting a UTI.
When should I see a doctor about frequent urination during pregnancy?
If you feel like you always need to pee. While peeing frequently is absolutely normal throughout your pregnancy, if you still feel like you need to pee even right after you’ve peed, you may have a UTI and will need treatment from your doctor. Other signs of a potential UTI are urination with pain, burning, or blood, as well as increased urine odor.
Did You Know?
In addition to making you pee a lot, hCG is the hormone that pregnancy tests look for. It doubles every 2-3 days in early pregnancy and has the highest concentration first thing in the morning. This means that if you want to take a pregnancy test very early on, you should do so immediately after you wake up. If this isn't doable, you can mimic these levels of concentration by not using the bathroom for at least four hours and drinking normal amounts of water (too much will dilute your urine).
Other signs and symptoms of pregnancy in the first month:
- Mood Swings: Since these are typical of PMS, they are often not recognised as a pregnancy sign.
- Food Cravings and Aversions: Most people have heard about food cravings in pregnancy; foods you've always loved might also suddenly become repulsive to you and vice versa. Like most other pregnancy symptoms, this symptom is caused by changing hormone levels.
- Bloating: Often, hormonal changes in early pregnancy can make you feel bloated. Since this is typical of a normal period, however, it can be hard to tell if this is a normal part of your menstrual cycle or something more.
- Headaches: There are many reasons for headaches during the first month of pregnancy; stress may be one of them, but hormones and the increased volume of blood caused by pregnancy can also be factors.
- Heartburn: In early pregnancy, this is thought to be caused by the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the uterine muscles as well as the valve between the esophagus and the stomach. Later on, heartburn is caused by the baby putting pressure on your abdomen.
- Increased Hunger: This is often described as incredible hunger, and often lasts throughout one's entire pregnancy. Unfortunately, the old medical myth that mothers-to-be should "eat for two" is entirely incorrect. Contrary to the popular belief that this makes for a healthy baby, in fact, it does just the opposite. Eating too much while pregnant may cause you to gain excessive weight, putting you at higher risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, backaches, and needing a C-section because your baby is larger than it should be.
- Nasal Congestion and Nosebleeds: High hormone levels and increased blood production can cause swelling and drying in your nose's mucous membranes. This can lead to a stuffy or runny nose and frequent nosebleeds. For the same reasons, you may also experience bleeding gums during pregnancy.
Did You Know?
Pregnant women have about 40-50% more plasma and 20-30% more red blood cells than the average woman!
- Constipation: This is also caused by progesterone. Though this muscle-relaxing hormone comes in handy when you're giving birth, it can be a pain when it acts on intestinal muscles and slows things down a little too much.
- Feeling Faint: Faintness is another side effect of progesterone, which can also relax your blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop and dizziness to occur.
- Backache: Back pain, particularly in the lumbar regions, is another possible negative side effect of the pesky hormones progesterone and relaxin, both of which can loosen the ligaments around your pelvis and lead to instability and pain. Relaxin can affect the spine as well, which only makes matters worse. On top of these hormonal changes, the change in your posture and shift in your center of gravity during pregnancy are other common culprits of back pain. The additional weight of your growing baby also increases pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the surrounding areas such as your back and pelvis.
- Thrush (a.k.a. Yeast Infection): This is an unfortunate symptom, brought about by pregnancy hormones altering the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. For some women, this is a very early pregnancy sign.
- Heightened Sense of Smell: This symptom is less common and is poorly understood. One theory for increased olfactory sensibility is hormones (again!), though this time, estrogen seems to be the most likely culprit.
- Excessive Saliva Production (ptyalism): This is usually due to heartburn, nausea, and vomiting.
- "Feeling Pregnant:" Sometimes you just know!
What if I don't have any symptoms?
Like any month of pregnancy, this first one differs greatly from woman to woman. The timing of that first pregnancy symptom also varies widely—both between women and between each of their pregnancies.
People have reported feeling symptoms of their pregnancy:
- One week after conception. You might notice some very light bleeding, known as "spotting," as early as one week after conception. This is caused by the fertilised egg implanting in the lining of the uterus. Although it is noticeably lighter than a period, people often mistake it for one, especially as spotting can be accompanied by mood swings, cramping, and breast tenderness.
- At the end of month one. Many people start to suspect pregnancy when they miss a period. This is often the first symptom, and by this point, you can verify with a pregnancy test.
- Months (as many as nine) into the pregnancy. Some women may not experience any symptoms at all during the first month. It is also possible to go several months without realising that you're pregnant, particularly if you have irregular periods. In rare cases, unsuspecting women have been admitted to the emergency ward with mysterious stomach pains only to learn that they are in labor. This has happened to someone I know, so it's not just something that happens on TV!
- At conception. Some women claim to have felt conception, either as a pain or as some other sensation. This is disputed by the medical profession, but who can say for sure?
What if my pregnancy symptoms suddenly disappear?
While it is not terribly unusual for some women not to experience any symptoms (or very mild ones) in their first trimester, if you had symptoms before and they suddenly disappear, call your doctor immediately. This may be a sign of miscarriage and should be seen to immediately even if you have no other symptoms of a miscarriage.
How many weeks pregnant am I?
We measure pregnancy timing by gestational age, which starts on the first day of your last period. This means the first way to guess how many weeks pregnant you are is to count the number of weeks that have passed since your last menstrual period. Since you are most likely to conceive two weeks after your period (when you're ovulating), this means that when people talk about the first month of pregnancy, they are effectively talking about the two weeks before you conceived and the two weeks after you conceived. So although you're officially "one month pregnant," you've only actually been pregnant for two weeks! Is that confusing or what? This means that though we commonly think of pregnancy as lasting 9 months, it's actually closer to 10 (roughly 40 weeks from your last period).
This strange convention is used because most people can't be 100 percent sure of their dates of conception, and this method at least provides a standard starting point. Though this will give you an idea of how many weeks pregnant you are, the surest way to know your gestational age in early pregnancy is to get an ultrasound.
So when did I actually get pregnant?
You are considered "pregnant" when your fertilized egg (which has already begun to divide) successfully attaches to your uterine lining. This process, which is known as implantation, begins about 6 days after fertilization and takes 3-4 days to complete.
Did You Know?
Up to 50% of all fertilized eggs leave your body with your period before implantation is complete.
Below is a video of how a baby develops during its first month. Knowledge of the biology taking place can help explain many early pregnancy symptoms, such as spotting.
The One Sure Way to Tell If You're Pregnant
Although these are common first-month pregnancy symptoms, it's important to be aware that they may not necessarily indicate pregnancy. They can also be premenstrual symptoms, signs of other medical conditions, or the result of factors such as a change in your diet or heightened levels of stress. If you experience these symptoms at an early stage, it is a sign that you should take a pregnancy test. A positive pregnancy test is the only way to be certain without taking a trip to the doctor's office.
When is the best time to take a pregnancy test?
Though some tests promise results as early as five days before your missed period, they're most likely to be accurate if you wait a day (or even a week!) after your period. This goes back to that pesky pee hormone we talked about earlier. If you take a pregnancy test too early, your hCG levels may still be too low for the test to detect.
Remember, your symptoms won't last forever!
If at the end of month one you have already experienced some (or many) of these symptoms and discover that you are indeed pregnant, it may be a bit depressing to think that you still have another 36 weeks to go! However, be assured that some of these symptoms, particularly morning sickness, mood swings, and tiredness, should gradually ease off by the beginning of your second trimester. In fact, the second trimester is usually a time of renewed energy and a general feeling of wellbeing.
Even if that's not the case for you, pregnancy doesn't last forever, and it will all be worth it in the end!
If you've been pregnant, when did you have your first pregnancy symptom or know that you were pregnant?
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