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Pregnancy Symptoms

Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Do All Women Get Early Symptoms of Pregnancy? Every woman is different. So are her experiences of pregnancy. Not every woman has the same symptoms or even the same symptoms from one pregnancy to the next.

Also, because the early symptoms of pregnancy often mimic the symptoms you might experience right before and during menstruation, you may not realize you’re pregnant.

If you’re not keeping track of your menstrual cycle or if it varies widely from one month to the next, you may not be sure when to expect your period. But if you start to feel some of the early pregnancy symptoms below (not all women get them) and you’re wondering why you haven’t gotten your period, you may very well be pregnant.

Taking a home pregnancy test is the next step! If you are pregnant, visit our Newly Pregnant area for a quick overview of what’s in store.

How soon do early pregnancy symptoms start?

Some women may experience symptoms within the first weeks of pregnancy in the first trimester, while others may develop symptoms later on in the pregnancy. Symptoms of early pregnancy can also be similar to symptoms experienced prior to the menstrual period, so a woman may not recognize the symptoms as related to pregnancy.

Though it may sound odd, your first week of pregnancy is based on the date of your last menstrual period. Your last menstrual period is considered the first week of pregnancy, even if you weren’t actually pregnant yet. The expected delivery date is calculated using the first day of your last period. For that reason, the first few weeks where you may not have symptoms also count toward your 40-week pregnancy.

Pregnancy Symptoms: Top Early Signs

Signs and symptoms Timeline (from missed period)
mild cramping and spotting week 1 to 4
missed period week 4
fatigue week 4 or 5
nausea week 4 to 6
tingling or aching breasts week 4 to 6
frequent urination week 4 to 6
bloating week 4 to 6
motion sickness week 5 to 6
mood swings week 6
temperature changes week 6
high blood pressure week 8
extreme fatigue and heartburn week 9
faster heartbeat week 8 to 10
breast and nipple changes week 11
acne week 11
noticeable weight gain week 11
pregnancy glow week 12

Missed Period

The most obvious early symptom of pregnancy – and the one that prompts most women to get a pregnancy test – is a missed period. But not all missed or delayed periods are caused by pregnancy.

If you’re usually pretty regular and your period doesn’t arrive on time, you may decide to do a pregnancy test before you notice any of the above symptoms. But if you’re not regular or you’re not keeping track of your cycle, nausea and breast tenderness and extra trips to the bathroom may signal pregnancy before you realize you didn’t get your period.

Also, women can experience some bleeding during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor what you should be aware of with bleeding. For example, when is bleeding normal and when is it a sign of an emergency?

There are reasons, besides pregnancy, for missing a period. it might be that you gained or lost too much weight. Hormonal problems, fatigue, or stress are other possibilities. Some women miss their period when they stop taking birth control pills. But if a period is late and pregnancy is a possibility, you may want to get a pregnancy test.

Food aversions

If you’re newly pregnant, it’s not uncommon to feel repelled by the smell of a bologna sandwich or a cup of coffee, and for certain aromas to trigger your gag reflex. Though no one knows for sure, this may be a side effect of rapidly increasing amounts of estrogen in your system.

You may also find that certain foods you used to enjoy are suddenly completely repulsive to you.

Mood swings

It’s common to have mood swings during pregnancy, partly because of hormonal changes that affect neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). Everyone responds differently to these changes. Some moms-to-be experience heightened emotions, both good and bad, while others feel more depressed or anxious.

Note: If you’ve been feeling sad or hopeless or unable to cope with your daily responsibilities, or you’re having thoughts of harming yourself, call your healthcare provider or a mental health professional right away.

Abdominal bloating

Hormonal changes in early pregnancy may leave you feeling bloated, similar to the feeling some women have just before their period. That’s why your clothes may feel more snug than usual at the waistline, even early on when your uterus is still quite small.

Frequent urination

Shortly after you become pregnant, hormonal changes prompt a chain of events that raise the rate of blood flow through your kidneys. This causes your bladder to fill more quickly, so you need to pee more often.

Frequent urination will continue – or intensify – as your pregnancy progresses. Your blood volume rises dramatically during pregnancy, which leads to extra fluid being processed and ending up in your bladder. The problem is compounded as your growing baby exerts more pressure on your bladder.

Frequent urination

Frequent urination might be the most infamous symptom of pregnancy. Learn why you have to go more often, and how to reduce your number of bathroom trips. See all pregnancy videos

Fatigue

Feeling tired all of a sudden? No, make that exhausted. No one knows for sure what causes early pregnancy fatigue, but it’s possible that rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone are contributing to your sleepiness. Of course, morning sickness and having to urinate frequently during the night can add to your sluggishness, too.

You should start to feel more energetic once you hit your second trimester, although fatigue usually returns late in pregnancy when you’re carrying a lot more weight and some of the common discomforts of pregnancy make it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

Feeling very tired is normal in pregnancy, starting early on.

A woman can start feeling unusually fatigued as soon as one week after conceiving.

Why? It’s often related to a high level of a hormone called progesterone, although other things – such as lower levels of blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and a boost in blood production – can all contribute.

If fatigue is related to pregnancy, it’s important to get plenty of rest. Eating foods that are rich in protein and iron can help offset it.

Sore breasts

One common pregnancy symptom is sensitive, swollen breasts caused by rising levels of hormones. The soreness and swelling may feel like an exaggerated version of how your breasts feel before your period. Your discomfort should diminish significantly after the first trimester, as your body adjusts to the hormonal changes.

Belly button

If you’re pregnant, your belly might not be the only body part that’s getting bigger. Get ready for some amazing changes in your breasts during pregnancy. See all videos

Light bleeding or spotting

It seems counterintuitive: If you’re trying to get pregnant, the last thing you want to see is any spotting or vaginal bleeding. But if you notice just light spotting around the time your period is due, it could be implantation bleeding. No one knows for sure why it happens, but it might be caused by the fertilized egg settling into the lining of your uterus.

Note: About 1 in 4 women experience spotting or light bleeding during the first trimester. It’s often nothing, but sometimes it’s a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. If your bleeding is severe or accompanied by pain or lightheadedness, or if you’re at all concerned, call your doctor or midwife.

Nausea

For some women, morning sickness doesn’t hit until about a month or two after conception, though for others it may start as early as two weeks. And not just in the morning, either: Pregnancy-related nausea (with or without vomiting) can be a problem morning, noon, or night.

Most pregnant women with nausea feel complete relief by the beginning of the second trimester. For most others it takes another month or so for the queasiness to ease up. A lucky few escape it altogether.

Morning sickness is a famous symptom of pregnancy. But not every pregnant woman gets it.

The exact cause of morning sickness is not known but pregnancy hormones likely contribute to this symptom. Nausea during pregnancy may occur at any time of the day but most commonly in the morning.

Also, some women crave, or can’t stand, certain foods when they become pregnant. That’s also related to hormonal changes. The effect can be so strong that even the thought of what used to be a favorite food can turn a pregnant woman’s stomach.

It’s possible that the nausea, cravings, and food aversions can last for the entire pregnancy. Fortunately, the symptoms lessen for many women at about the 13th or 14th week of their pregnancy.

In the meantime, be sure to eat a healthy diet so that you and your developing baby get essential nutrients. You can talk to your doctor for advice on that.

High basal body temperature

If you’ve been charting your basal body temperature and you see that your temperature has stayed elevated for more than two weeks, you’re probably pregnant.

Frequent urination

For many women, this starts around the sixth or eighth week after conception. Although this could be caused by a urinary tract infection, diabetes, or overusing diuretics, if you’re pregnant, it’s most likely due to hormonal levels.

Constipation

During pregnancy, higher levels of the hormone progesterone can make you constipated. Progesterone causes food to pass more slowly through your intestines. To ease the problem, drink plenty of water, exercise, and eat plenty of high-fiber foods.

Mood swings

These are common, especially during the first trimester. These are also related to changes in hormones.
Headaches and back pain. Many pregnant women report frequent mild headaches, and others experience chronic back pain.

Dizziness and fainting

These may be related to dilating blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and lower blood sugar.

Positive home pregnancy test

In spite of what you might read on the box, many home pregnancy tests are not sensitive enough to reliably detect pregnancy until about a week after a missed period. So if you decide to take a test earlier than that and get a negative result, try again in a few days. Remember that a baby starts to develop before you can tell you’re pregnant, so take care of your health while you’re waiting to find out, and watch for more early pregnancy symptoms.

Once you’ve gotten a positive result, make an appointment with your practitioner. Now head over to our pregnancy area and check out amazing pictures of how your baby develops during your pregnancy week by week.

Reviewed by the QSota Medical Advisory Board