Early Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms
For many women, the two weeks (or so) between ovulation and their expected period are very stressful. If you are trying to conceive and hoping that your "Aunt Flo" will stay away for the next year or so, or if you are sexually active and hoping to not become pregnant, this time period can put you on edge. Sometimes it seems as though every twinge is a symptom of something bigger, probably pregnancy. If you're like me, you could buy stock in pregnancy tests, which sit waiting until the day of testing. You might keep a calendar or a chart. You're on the edge of your seat, maybe even biting your nails. "Am I pregnant?" You ask yourself time and time again and until you can pee on that little stick, there really doesn't seem to be a solid answer.
I have been pregnant four times, and I can honestly state that the truth of the matter is that most pregnancy symptoms are also signs that your Aunt Flo is going to show up any day. This can be confusing and disconcerting for most women. The only cure is to pee on a stick and/or get a blood test done by your doctor.
I will, however, guide you through some of the most significant signs that you might be pregnant.
For Those who are Casually Trying to Conceive or Not Preventing Pregnancy
The following symptoms apply to those who are casually trying to conceive as well as to those who are using fertility charting.
Please keep in mind that pregnancy doesn't begin until implantation and that your hormones won't be rising enough to produce symptoms until your fertilized egg has implanted on the uterine wall. Implantation usually occurs roughly 6-12 days after ovulation. If you don't know when you ovulated, you will find it much more difficult to follow your symptoms! Charting is always a good idea, even if you are trying to prevent pregnancy!
I am placing these symptoms in order from most obscure to most well known. You may learn a thing or two!
- Stuffy Nose
Most women don't know that a stuffy nose is a symptom of pregnancy, but it can be! Keep in mind, however, that a stuffy nose can also be a sign of allergies or illness and needs to be considered in conjunction with other symptoms.
- Metallic Taste in the Mouth
Dry mouth, with a metallic taste, can be a symptom of pregnancy. In most cases where I have known a woman to have this symptom she has later tested positive for pregnancy! Keep in mind that some medications might contribute to this symptom as well.
- Dark Blue Veins in the Breasts
Consider your breasts. Are there dark blue veins? Most of the time these veins will be prominent and puffy if you are pregnant, but this can also be a symptom of your menstrual period, so please be aware of your cycles!
- Increased Sensitivity to Odors
Your sense of smell may increase when you are pregnant!
- Implantation Cramping and/or Bleeding
Usually this is just light spotting but the cramping can be quite painful. Implantation bleeding occurs for a day or two when the fertilized egg implants on the uterine wall.
Headaches are very common in early pregnancy, but this can also be a sign of illness, stress or a coming menstrual period. If you suspect you might be pregnant, please do not take aspirin or NSAIDs for your pain! Stick with Tylenol, which is safe during pregnancy!
Fatigue is very common early on in a pregancy as well as during the third trimester. If you are feeling frequently very tired, then you could be pregnant!
- Morning Sickness
If you find yourself becoming sick to your stomach, this can also be a sign of pregnancy. This symptom can show itself as early as the day of implantation! Remember, too, that feeling sick could also be a sign of illness.
- A Missed Menstrual Period
In most cases, a missed period is an indication that you are pregnant. However, there are other aspects that can affect this, including stress and simply "getting older." Women in their thirties tend to experience lengthening cycles, and it is possible to have an occasional anovulatory cycle (which means you might need to have your period jump-started medically).
For Those who are Charting
If you have been charting your cycles while trying to conceive, you will have further indications of your fertility and your possible pregnancy. If you are serious about becoming (or not becoming) pregnant, you should consider purchasing a Basal Body Thermometer (BBT) and taking your temperature every morning at the same time. Your basal temperature is taken when you are at rest and have been sleeping for at least three hours. Your temperature should be taken before you speak or rise in the morning. Temperatures can be taken either orally or vaginally.
See below for resources for trying to conceive and pregnancy.
If you have been charting your fertility, you probably have a good idea of how basal temping works, but I will cover the subject in brief:
- During your menstrual period and the follicular phase of your cycle (while your follicles are developing and preparing to release an egg), your temperature remains fairly low and, if you are healthy, stable.
- A few days prior to ovulation, you will begin to see some egg white cervical mucous. This is a sign that you are fertile and could become pregnant. Resources at the end of this article.
- When you ovulate, your temperature will most likely drop, and then rise sharply. If you are using a charting program like Fertility Friend, you will notice that after two or three days, you will see red cross-hairs, indicating the date on which you ovulated.
- After you have ovulated, your temperature will usually continue to rise for several days.
- If an egg has been fertilized, it will implant. When the egg implants on the uterine wall, you will usually see a profound drop in your temperature that will last for only one day.
- After the drop, you should see your temperature rise and continue to do so if you are pregnant.
- If you are not pregnant, your temperature will drop below your cover line and your period will show up, beginning your next cycle.