Early Signs of Pregnancy

1. Missed Period

A missed period is often the biggest sign you are pregnant. Although not always the earliest sign of pregnancy, a missed period tends to be the most obvious sign and mostly one that isn’t easily attributed to other causes. If you are in your childbearing years, have had intercourse, and more than three days have passed since you would have normally expected your period, you could be pregnant.

Missing a period also provides a time line for when to take a pregnancy test. Home pregnancy tests will normally state when they should be used, based on the number of days since your period was due. When used too soon, their accuracy is lower.

2. Tender, Swollen Breasts

Early in pregnancy your breasts can become tender, sensitive or swollen as your body begins to produce higher levels of hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are the main hormones that help stimulate the growth of the milk ducts and milk producing glands in the breasts. Increased blood flow during this time can also contribute to swelling and tenderness. Tender or swollen breasts can last two weeks or so but tend to slowly improve as your body adjusts to the hormonal changes.

Tender and sensitive breasts can return after baby is delivered.

3. Nausea with or without Vomiting

Also known as “morning sickness,” nausea is a symptom that usually occurs four to eight weeks after conception but some women can experience nausea much earlier. The cause of nausea is not completely understood, but is attributed to various physiological changes such as increased hormone levels, enhanced sense of smell, gastrointestinal changes, possible nutritional deficiencies, and more.

4. Increased Urination

After conception, your body’s blood flow and blood volume increases. This causes your kidneys to process extra fluid, which ends up in your bladder. The increased blood flow helps support your developing baby (fetus).

5. Fatigue

Fatigue and sleepiness can be an early pregnancy symptom which is thought to be caused by the increase in the human hormone, progesterone.

6. Light Spotting

Light spotting or implantation bleeding can possibly occur about the same time your expected period would be due. This is about ten to fourteen days after conception. Implantation bleeding happens when your fertilized egg attaches to the lining of your uterus.

7. Cramping

This can be an early pregnancy symptom ten to fourteen days after conception.

8. Bloating

Bloating can be caused by many different factors but the hormone progesterone is a common reason. Progesterone relaxes the smooth muscle tissue, including your gastrointestinal tract. This potentially slows down digestion, leading to bloating, gas or burping.

Water retention, dietary changes or anxiety can also attribute to bloating.

9. Mood Swings

A common early pregnancy symptom, mood swings caused by the rapid release of hormones can make you unusually emotional.

10. A Change in Food Preferences

This can be a very early symptom as one of the factors that can alter your sense of smell and taste is the rapid increase of hormones such as estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin hCG. Altered senses can make certain foods more appealing or cause you to dislike foods you previously enjoyed.

11. A Heightened Sense of Smell

While many factors can cause a heightened sense of smell, hormonal changes are the main reason in pregnancy. Having a heightened sense of smell could potentially act as a protective mechanism, helping pregnant women avoid certain spoiled or harmful foods.

12. Dizziness or Fainting

There are multiple factors that can cause dizziness or fainting.

If you experience dizziness or fainting contact your doctor or health care provider.

A common factor in dizziness is that your body is producing more blood to support the developing fetus and, this, combined with changing hormonal levels can affect your blood vessels, potentially leading to lower blood pressure and causing dizziness or fainting.

Other factors can also cause dizziness or fainting during pregnancy. As mentioned above, contact your doctor or health care provider if you experience dizziness or fainting.

13. Constipation

Very similar to bloating, this early pregnancy symptom is most likely caused by hormonal changes relaxing the smooth muscle tissue, including your gastrointestinal tract. This potentially slows down digestion, leading to constipation.

More Common Pregnancy Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Weight gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Metallic taste in mouth
  • Changes in cervical mucus
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Acne or skin changes
  • Elevated basal body temperature
  • Heartburn
  • Food aversions or cravings
  • Sore or aching muscles
  • Increased saliva production
  • Feeling overheated or unusually warm
  • Frequent headaches
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint
  • Changes in libido
  • Stretch marks
  • Varicose veins
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nosebleeds
  • Gum sensitivity or bleeding
  • Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
  • Sensitive or bleeding gums
  • Itchy skin
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Snoring

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