15 Early Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
Could You Be Pregnant?
Of course, the most surefire sign of pregnancy is a positive pregnancy test, although even that may not be 100% reliable.
But even before you take a test or miss a period, you may suspect that you may be pregnant. Some women will have only one or two symptoms, others may experience all of them.
After conception, it takes about seven to 10 days for the fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. When that happens, your hormone levels begin to change, and you can feel some or all of the common pregnancy signs as your body reacts to those new hormone levels. Even though each woman can experience different symptoms, especially in the early days (many of these symptoms are similar to PMS, by the way), there are certain early signs that can indicate that you are pregnant.
Keep in mind that each of these symptoms by itself may have a different cause and does not indicate pregnancy. Some women do not feel any symptoms at all in the early days. When I was trying to conceive there were a few times that I was 100% positive that I was pregnant, and yet I was not. When it finally happened, I hardly had any early symptoms, and was sure I was not pregnant until about 7 weeks.
What Happens After Ovulation If Pregnant?
There are actually no symptoms immediately after ovulation if you are pregnant. Most doctors consider pregnancy to start when the embryo implants into the uterus. According to registered nurse Sharon Perkins, this does not occur until roughly six days after an egg is fertilized. Prior to this, your body does not produce any of the hormones that can cause pregnancy symptoms. As such, your body won't feel anything immediately after conception. This is also why you have to wait around two weeks to take a pregnancy test.
15 Early Pregnancy Signs
- Missed menstrual period. A missed period is one of the obvious signs of pregnancy. However, there may be other reasons for missing a period, including stress, illness, hormone imbalance, reactions to foods or medications, gaining or losing large amount of weight, and stopping hormone contraceptives. If you normally have a very regular menstrual cycle, missing a period can be a reliable sign of conception.
- Tender, swollen breasts. Hormonal changes can make your breasts feel heavy and sore. You may notice changes in breast size or shape, soreness, darker areolas, and tender nipples - these are all common signs of early pregnancy. However, some women experience tenderness in their breasts just before or after ovulation, so this symptom alone does not necessarily mean you are pregnant. This sensitivity may go away later in the pregnancy.
- Fatigue. Feeling tired is a very common symptom of early pregnancy. I remember I felt exhausted and always ready for a nap. This is caused by soaring levels of progesterone, which - in high doses, can even put you to sleep. At the same time, you will have lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and increased blood production – that can all contribute to your tiredness. It’s your body's reaction to it's new state of transition. Fortunately, energy levels usually increase during the second trimester, so you will feel better and have more stamina during the rest of your pregnancy, or at least until the last trimester.
- Elevated basal body temperature. Your basal body temperature is temperature taken orally when you wake up in the morning. Your body temperature rises slightly soon after ovulation and remains at that level until the day of your period. Some women track their basal body temperature to determine when their most fertile time of month occurs. If their basal body temperature does not drop for more than two weeks this may mean that they're pregnant.
- Heightened sensitivity to smells and tastes. You will become more aware of different smells in your environment. When I was pregnant, in the office where I worked I discovered new smells that I never noticed before. Especially smells and tastes of various foods can trigger strong reactions, including nausea and vomitting.
- Food cravings and aversions. You may crave certain foods, or feel strong aversions towards food you normally like. Why does that happen? As in the case of other symptoms, hormonal changes are responsible for these new food preferences, especially in the first trimester, when hormone levels change most dramatically.
- Nausea and/or vomiting, aka morning sickness, is one of the classic symptoms of pregnancy. For some women, the queasiness begins as early as two weeks after conception and usually ends with the beginning of the second trimester.
- Light spotting. Spotting can happen when implantation occurs usually a bit earlier before your period should begin. Known as implantation bleeding, it happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus — about 10 to 14 days after fertilization. This type of bleeding from implantation is spottier and lighter in color than a normal period and doesn't last as long.
- Cramping. After implantation your uterus can contract, and you will be feeling cramping caused by these contractions.
- Frequent urination. You are going to use the bathroom a lot! Urinating frequently l can be one of the very early signs of being pregnant, and will continue throughout the entire pregnancy. Your uterus is getting larger as the womb prepares for the baby, putting additional pressure on the bladder.
- Larger waistline and bloating. You may find your pants feel snug as your waistline expands. It's common to feel uncomfortable with anything tight around the waist.
- Constipation. An increase in progesterone slows down food passing through the intestines, which can lead to constipation.
- Headaches. Some women experience headaches early in the pregnancy, that are most likely caused by increased blood circulation.
- Feeling dizzy and lightheaded. These feelings can be casued by dropping blood pressure and/or low blood sugar.
- Mood swings. If you find yourself laughing, weeping, and screaming all at the same time, it does not you are getting crazy. You may just be pregnant, and the changing hormone levels are causing this emotional upheaval.
You are pregnant - Congratulations!
OK, so you are pregnant. Now what?
First of all take that pregnancy test and make an appointment with your doctor.
In the meantime take good care of yourself. The first weeks of your baby’s life are extremely important. If you haven’t already, give up any unhealthy habits, such smoking and alcohol. Eat healthy, take some folic acid, and get enough rest. And most of all enjoy that time of the pregnancy, because –even though often unpleasant – it does not last long.
If you are pregnant and wish to listen to your baby's heartbeat - learn about buying or renting a baby heartbeat monitor to listen to your unborn baby's sounds.
If you are not pregnant
- If you are not pregnant, but are trying to conceive, read my hub How to get pregnant fast: Some tips for getting pregnant quickly.
- Generally, it is recommended that if you are over 35 and you are trying to conceive for 6 months or more, then you should consult a specialist to rule out any potential problems. Some studies have shown that about one-third of women between age 35 and 39 and two-thirds of women over 40 have fertility problems.
- If you are under 35, you can give yourself more time – up to one year.
- If you don’t notice any signs of ovulation, or your periods are irregular, you should definitely let your doctor know. This information may help your doctor make a diagnosis of infertility.
- If you find yourself in that situation, I highly recommend the book “Inconceivable” by Julia Indichova. Also, visit her website Fertile Heart and join the community. You can read some amazing stories and get support through your journey. Good luck to you!