Weird Early Symptoms of Pregnancy Before Your Missed Period
Do You Feel Weird In Early Pregnancy?
The nervous two-week wait before a pregnancy test is a rite of passage for women. Whether you're praying for a positive or crossing your fingers that it's just really bad PMS, read on and entertain or torture yourself with these weird early symptoms that sometimes mean pregnancy (and sometimes don't...).
Are There Any Early Pregnancy Signs Before I Miss My Period?
The early signs and symptoms of pregnancy can feel almost exactly the same as the signs and symptoms that your period is coming. Thanks to those drastic hormone fluctuations, PMS and pregnancy can feel almost the same (cramps, light spotting or bleeding, moodiness, etc.), so you won't know for sure if it's a period or a baby until it's time to take the pregnancy test.
But according to Rebecca Lee, a registered nurse in New York and founder of RemediesForMe.com, "It is very common to have pregnancy symptoms before your missed period. Although they may be slight, you may be able to catch them if you know what to look for." Below, you'll find a list of many signs and symptoms you might notice.
Weird Early Symptoms of Pregnancy
- You're stuffed up, congested, or feel like you have a cold.
- Food tastes different than it normally does.
- Suddenly, smoke and caffeine are gross.
- You experience nausea or reflexive gagging.
- You're exhausted.
- You can't catch your breath.
- You feel sad, mad, or anxious for no apparent reason.
- You have a superhuman sense of smell.
- You're bloated, gassy, cramped, or constipated.
- You need to pee more often.
- Your breasts feel painful or swollen.
- You feel inexplicably hot and sweaty.
- You feel dizzy and lightheaded.
- You experience dramatic mood swings.
Are you pregnant? Maybe, but maybe not. The reasons for each of these strange sensations is described below.
Does Being Pregnant Feel Like You're Coming Down With a Cold?
Reaching for the tissues in June? Early pregnancy (annnnd, well, the whole pregnancy) can cause rhinitis of pregnancy which is basically a stuffed up, runny nose that can also lead to a scratchy throat. Why? The extra estrogen surges can cause an increase in congestion, and the extra blood flow (yep, pregnancy creates more blood!) also contributes to swelling in the sinuses.
Later, the drippity drop of mucous may also make morning sickness and nausea worse. Yay.
If constantly dabbing at your nose with a kleenex is irritating the skin around it, grab some gentle lotion or chapstick and apply it to the affected areas during your bedtime routine.
Why Does Everything Taste Either Incredible or Incredibly Awful?
Suddenly your fruit salad from the deli tastes like it has been seasoned with an entire shaker of salt and your tongue is on fire after eating licorice and all you can think about at 3 a.m. is that can of Spaghetti-Os in the pantry. Why does this happen in early pregnancy? It's probably safe to chalk it up to rapidly changing hormones, but no one really knows for sure. The good news is that food aversions usually disappear in the second trimester.
A Sudden Intolerance for Smoke and Caffeine
Smells or tastes that you once enjoyed can suddenly send your stomach lurching thanks to a shift in hormones. Your body may become more sensitive to things like caffeine and nicotine, which may cause you to shake, sweat, and feel nauseous.
Why Am I Suddenly Gagging and Nauseous? Is It Morning Sickness?
Thank that sweet, sweet estrogen for the combination of a heightened sense of smell and lovely nasal drainage for this unpleasant symptom.
To ease early pregnancy nausea, eat a hearty, bland breakfast as soon as you wake up and try to squeeze a brisk walk in before you head out to work or school. You can also replace your regular minty toothpaste with a milder flavor to reduce gagging and vomiting while brushing your teeth.
Everything Is Exhausting
Sleepiness in the week leading up to your period is totally typical, especially if you haven't been getting enough Zs, exercise, or iron. But if you're worn out just from curling your hair and looking for any opportunity to plop down on the couch and stare off into space, there's a chance pregnancy is the cause.
Gulp extra water and indulge in those staring-off sessions—growing a human is exhausting.
Why Can't I Catch My Breath?
Huffing and puffing walking up the steps to your apartment? This is a feeling that will follow most women through their entire pregnancy, but can be especially alarming (and annoying) in the beginning, when the body requires more oxygen to grow the embryo.
Feeling Down, Anxious, or Just Plain Off?
This is a tricky, vague symptom of early pregnancy that can be attributed to premenstrual symptoms or just being human. However, if you suddenly find yourself in tears over a toilet paper ad or fuming about something a friend said on Facebook when you're typically stoic it might be a good idea to check the calendar to see where you're at in the two week wait.
Your Sense of Smell Is Totally Out-of-Control
Did you just smell your partner walk in the door all of the way from the upstairs bathroom? If you're pregnant, you can blame (that's right, say it with me) estrogen for your heightened sense of smell. From roses to ravioli, everything is going to start smelling much stronger, sometimes for the better but usually for the worse.
Time to start opening some windows.
Why Am I So Gassy?
It's no secret that gas and increased flatulence is a symptom of pregnancy, but for many women, it can be one of their first clues to the impending changes. That's because the surge of progesterone that happens when you conceive relaxes your body's muscles as it prepares for childbirth. This can result in a some sneaky little slips. Whoops!
Why Am I Peeing All the Time?
Suddenly, your bladder seems to have shrunk to the size of a peanut and you're running to the bathroom all the time. Extra blood flow to a pregnant woman's kidneys causes an increase in the production of urine, up to 25% more. Figure in the increased pregnancy hormone levels and you'll understand why you had to get up to pee eight times last night.
It'll likely stop during the second trimester, but it'll likely start again during the third. Don't stop drinking fluids, just think of the extra trips to the bathroom as exercise.
Your Breasts Hurt and Look Larger, Fuller, or Darker
One of the first signs of pregnancy is changes in the breasts. This can include darkening and deepening veins (like a roadmap on your chest), darker and larger areolas, and of course, soreness and pain, especially on the sides around your armpit areas and even leading down into your upper arms.
This totally uncomfortable symptom occurs because breast tissue is sensitive to progesterone, a hormone that's released in a woman's body when she becomes pregnant. It's also the reason many of us experience breast discomfort and pain before our periods, when progesterone surges.
Do Cramps, Back Pain, and Lower Abdominal Pain Mean You're Pregnant?
Cramps, twinges, and pains in your lower back or on one side of your lower abdomen can indicate implantation. Each month when you ovulate, your eggs are released from either the tube on the left or the right, sometimes causing soreness. Pain in your back and lower stomach area can indicate a fertilized egg attaching to the uterus.
Cramping will likely continue in the first few months of pregnancy as the uterus expands for your growing baby. To ease the pain, forego over-the-counter pain relievers which can be harmful, and instead take a warm, relaxing bath to take your mind off those twinges and pangs.
Totally Unexplained Dizziness, Vertigo, or Lightheadedness
Feeling like you just stepped off a roller-coaster after vacuuming or getting up off the couch too quickly can be an early sign of pregnancy. While the nausea and vomiting may never come, the dizziness is just as yucky.
As your hormones begin to rise, blood vessels relax and widen, contributing to those freaky dizzy spells of early pregnancy.
Dramatic and Melodramatic Mood Swings
Did you lose your cool in the parking lot? Did a song on the radio trigger a torrent of tears? Who knew that it was humanly possible to laugh and cry at the same time? The pregnant woman did, that's who.
Changes in metabolism and hormone levels can affect neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that regulate mood. When a woman gets pregnant, estrogen and progesterone start playing her mood like a violin.
More Questions About Early Pregnancy Signs
Does your pee turn dark yellow or orange during pregnancy?
You probably just haven’t been drinking enough water. Although dehydration can be a sign of pregnancy, it can also just be a sign that you need to drink more water!
My mouth tastes metallic, like it's full of loose change or like I've been sucking on spoons. Yuck. Is that a sign of pregnancy?
Dysgeusia, a distortion of the sense of taste, is a common early symptom of pregnancy. It can affect the taste of the food you eat but may be experienced even when you're not eating.
What's that stuff in my underwear? Is that normal?
Seeing an increase in white or clear vaginal discharge (leukorrhea) is a normal symptom of early pregnancy.
What if I'm feeling nauseous before my period is due?
Nausea is an early sign of conception, but it's also a common PMS symptom, so you'll have to wait to find out what your hormones are telling you!
How early can you detect signs of pregnancy?
Some women feel different right away, but you can't know for sure until you take that pregnancy test.
So If You Feel Weird, Are You Pregnant?
You'll have to wait two weeks to take a pregnancy test to know for sure.
Should You Avoid Anything in the Two Week Wait?
If you suspect you may be pregnant, here are some things to hold off on until you can test and find out for sure:
- Consuming Alcohol This should be pretty obvious but it's also highly (and hotly) debated as to whether this "rule" is really necessary. Suffice to say, most doctors advise against consuming alcohol during pregnancy as doing so can harm a growing fetus.
- Smoking If it's not good for you, it's certainly not good for a wee one!
- Caffeine Some doctors will okay a small intake every day (like a small morning cup), but caffeine can also trigger unpleasant reactions like dizziness, sweating, and lightheadedness.
- Aspirin and Ibuprofen Neither are considered safe during pregnancy unless recommended by a doctor.
- Deli Meats and Soft Cheeses Lunchmeat and soft cheeses (like feta and blue cheese) can carry listeria, the bacteria that causes listeriosis. Though contracting listeriosis—a food-borne infection—isn't necessarily life-threatening in a healthy person, it can cause miscarriage because fetuses are much more vulnerable to illness and infection than healthy adults.
- Scooping Cat Litter Besides the smell of the ammonia in cat urine being totally gross, cat feces contain the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, another disease that can prove fatal to a growing baby. If you can't get out of this chore, just make sure to wash your hands really well afterward. (Hey—you should be doing that anyway!)
- Saunas, Hot Tubs, and Hot Baths Excessive heat can cause a growing baby to develop birth defects because baby can't regulate his/her own body temperature. So while you can cool down quickly, baby can't. A good way to judge the water temperature is to make sure that your skin isn't turning pink. It's also a good idea to let your limbs drape out of the tub.
When Is the Best Time to Test for Pregnancy, and What is the Best Way to Test?
The pregnancy hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) isn't detectable until at least two weeks after conception—basically around the time of your missed period. Conception happens at the time of ovulation and most women ovulate two weeks before their period. While some early detection pregnancy tests claim to be able to tell you earlier than that, your best bet is to wait a day after you expected your period to test. Hey, pregnancies tests aren't cheap, and taking one too early may result in a false-negative.
How Early Can You Actually Take a Pregnancy Test?
I've read different old wive's tales across the internet on how to test for pregnancy at home—pee in vinegar, pee in baking soda, pee, well, all over. But the best place to pee if you want to find out whether or not you have a baby on the way is right on a scientifically-developed home pregnancy test.
With both of my pregnancies, I confirmed early on that I was pregnant using a First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test. As for how early you can actually test before you're pregnant, the general rule is 6 days before your missed period if you're using one of these early response tests. Follow the directions on the box and if you get a negative result but still don't get your period, test again in two days since the pregnancy hormone (that turns the second line on these tests pink) doubles every 48 hours.
Did You Take a Test?
Is your period late but you're still pulling up negatives on your pregnancy tests? Check out my article Why Would You Have a Late Period if You're Not Pregnant? for some of the most common reasons why.
How Did YOU Know You Were Pregnant?
When to Call Your Doctor
Hey, I'm just like you, I Google 100% of everything before I take it up with my doctor—much to her chagrin. Still, this article is not meant to be used as a tool for diagnosis. Always consult a physician for medical advice and if you're feeling unwell, having strange symptoms after unprotexted sex, or have questions about your fertility.
Questions & Answers
I had sex three days ago. Since then, I've been nauseous but I managed to eat something today. I'm also experiencing gas, constipation, slight dizziness, and lightheadedness. I also have swollen breasts, especially the left one, thrush, and I just woke up with sharp pains on my left side by and above my ovaries all the way to the middle of my stomach. It felt like PMS pains. I'm not due for another 14 days. Are these pregnancy symptoms or something else?
I'm five days late for my period, and experiencing headaches and stomach cramps all night. I am also experiencing white discharge, tender breasts and fatigue. I also feel like I have a fever. Could I be pregnant?
I had unprotected sex two days after my period. Five days after, I had sore breasts, general lower abdominal pain, and lower back pain. Three weeks later I still have sore breasts and pressure in my bladder and some lower back pain. My period is due on April 21st. Four days ago I had a negative pregnancy test. I was checked for a urine infection and had an ultrasound done to check my ovaries, and all are clear. I'm so confused. What do you think?
I had sex on the first day of my period. My period stopped and started again, but it wasn’t as heavy as usual. Now, I have watery discharge but feel dry, and my cervix is the same consistency as the tip of my nose. This is the eighth day since my period stopped and I feel really weird. Am I pregnant?
© 2013 Kierstin Gunsberg