Are you trying to conceive and wondering about pregnancy symptoms before missed period?
A missed period is the most obvious sign of being pregnant.
But is it the only sign?
If you’re hoping to have conceived it can feel like a long wait until your next period is due.
For pregnancy to occur, an egg must be fertilised and then implant into the lining of your uterus.
Pregnancy Symptoms Before Missed Period
Pregnancy begins from the moment of implantation.
This is when pregnancy hormones are secreted by the fertilised egg.
It takes a few days for the levels of pregnancy hormones to rise and begin to affect your body.
Early pregnancy symptoms can begin as early as the first week after implantation, and before your expected period is due.
If you’re excited or nervous about being pregnant, it can be easy to miss these pregnancy symptoms before missed period.
It helps to know what pregnancy symptoms before missed period look like and how likely they’re related to pregnancy.
1 Week Pregnancy Symptoms Before Missed Period
It’s a good time to point out that at 1 week pregnant, technically you wouldn’t be pregnant yet.
That’s because we date pregnancy according to the beginning of your last menstrual period – the one you had before conceiving.
Until it’s confirmed you’re actually pregnant, right now would count as 1 week after conception.
You’ve ovulated, the egg has been fertilised and it is implanting into your uterus.
Dating pregnancy can be confusing:
- 1 week pregnant = first day of last menstrual period
- 3 weeks pregnant = 1 week after conception (if pregnancy is confirmed).
Early Pregnancy Symptoms Before Missed Period
You did the baby dance during your fertile time and now you have to wait and see if sperm did, in fact, meet egg.
The two week wait is a long one.
Added to that, pregnancy tests aren’t reliable enough to detect accurately the low levels of hCG that could be in your body.
So you can’t pass the time by peeing on a stick (or three) and trying to work out whether you see a faint line or not.
However, there are a few symptoms that could reveal the first signs of pregnancy before missed period.
Many of them are similar to PMS symptoms.
To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a list of 11 pregnancy symptoms before missed period:
#1: Elevated Basal Body Temperature
Tracking your body temperature over time is useful if you’re trying to pinpoint ovulation.
It’s also a pretty accurate sign of pregnancy too. Before ovulation, your body temperature will rise, then fall back to normal once your period begins.
But if conception occurs, your body temperature will remain elevated from ovulation throughout pregnancy.
To be certain, of course, you need to have a history of temperature tracking.
#2: Implantation Signs
Remember, it can take between 5 and 12 days after conception for the fertilised egg to burrow into the uterine lining.
If your egg is in a hurry, you could feel, or even see, the signs of implantation before your missed period.
Some women feel a pricking, pinching or tingling sensation in the pelvic area. This is called implantation cramping.
Occasionally, women notice some light spotting in the week before, or around the time, their period is due.
This is called implantation bleeding and can be mistaken for the beginning of your period.
It can last a few hours or days, and usually appears as small spots of blood you see on your underwear or when wiping.
#3: Tender Breasts
This might be something you notice each month, right before your period is due.
It can also be a very early pregnancy symptom.
After conception, your body produces increasing levels of estrogen and progesterone – hormones that make your pregnancy a reality.
Even before you’re aware of being pregnant, these hormones help to prepare your body for breastfeeding. How cool is that!
But, as a flipside, both hormones are also responsible for causing your breasts to feel tender and very sensitive.
During very early pregnancy, some women find their breasts feel fuller, heavier and so sensitive they can’t stand being touched by anything, not even fabric.
If putting on your shirt causes you to flinch and bite back a scream, you could be pregnant.
#4: Darkening Nipples
The colour and shape of your nipples is something you’re pretty familiar with.
So it might be a surprise to notice the area around your nipple (called the areola) has darkened, looks bigger and has tiny bumps.
This is definitely not a PMS sign but another early pregnancy symptom showing your body is preparing to nurse a baby.
Pregnancy hormones stimulate an increase in the amount of melanin your body produces. Melanin is the hormone that gives you the colour of your skin, hair and eyes.
Why do your nipples get darker then? Because your body is anticipating feeding a baby in 9 months. Newborns can basically only see the difference between light and dark; darker nipples are easier to distinguish.
The areolas also get larger and bumpier to assist in successful breastfeeding.
The bumps are glands that produce oil to moisturise and protect the skin around the nipple.
These glands also release a special scent to help your newborn, who can’t see too well, to find the breast.
All these changes can make your nipples feel prickly and very sensitive.
If it’s the week after you might have conceived, and you suddenly finding yourself nodding off on the train first thing in the morning, then you could be pregnant.
Tiredness isn’t the right word for the exhaustion that settles on you during early pregnancy.
How can something the size of a pinhead make you feel so darned tired?
Progesterone is the culprit here. Rising levels of this pregnancy hormone will make you feel sleepy and so very tired all of the time.
Some women experience a day or so of feeling a bit queasy and ‘off’ in the week before their period.
However, within a few days of conception your levels of progesterone and estrogen begin to rise and this can trigger what’s commonly known as ‘morning sickness’.
We prefer to call it pregnancy sickness because it can occur at any time of the day or night.
How early and severe nausea is in early pregnancy varies among women, but 50% of pregnant women feel nauseated in the first six 6 weeks of pregnancy.
#7: Aversions And Cravings
A heightened sense of smell can be a very early sign you’re pregnant.
The smell of something you love, like your partner’s cologne or your favourite meal, could now send you running.
Or you might be able to smell something nice but no one else in the room can.
Thanks to pregnancy hormones you might also find yourself unable to eat anything except hot potato chips or rice noodles.
Aversions and cravings differ widely among women; they might or might not last throughout pregnancy, and can change.
You might normally expect to have some bloating in the week before your period.
It can also be a sign of very early pregnancy, as progesterone levels begin to rise.
Progesterone slows down your digestive tract, trapping gas inside your intestines.
This distends your belly a bit, making your clothes tighter around the waist and almost giving you a ‘bump’.
You might also experience gas or wind, which can be a little unexpected and unpleasant – especially if you’re trying to hold it together at a work meeting or in your yoga class.
#9: Cervical Mucus
Get used to discussions about your cervix and how much discharge you have.
If you’ve been paying attention to your cervical mucus for the purpose of pinpointing your fertile time, you know what it looks like.
At ovulation, most women notice an increase in a discharge that looks similar to egg white.
Then, after ovulation, your cervical mucus goes back to being drier and sticky.
If conception occurs, your cervical mucus increases and develops into the plug that seals the cervix.
This mucous plug prevents bacteria entering the uterus and causing infections that could harm your baby.
The mucus is creamier and thicker and continues up to and beyond your missed period.
This is another sign that can leave you asking, ‘Am I pregnant or premenstrual?’
When conception takes place, estrogen and progesterone start to work overtime to prepare your uterus for the fertilised egg.
In the week before your period, these hormones cause a dip in your blood sugar levels.
This can cause headaches as your brain cells struggle to keep up with lower levels of glucose.
Of course, it’s not an excuse to go all out on a sugar binge but it might explain why you’re seeking out chocolate biscuits at 2pm every day.
#11: Mood Swings
Those good old hormones, progesterone and estrogen, are responsible for this sign of pregnancy before missed period.
As mentioned earlier, as soon as conception occurs, your body goes into overdrive to prepare for the incoming fertilised egg.
This means a wild fluctuations of hormones – something you might experience in the lead up to your period.
These changes in hormones can make you feel fine one minute then have you sobbing over your misplaced car keys the next.
Hormonal fluctuations affect the neurotransmitters in your brain. They cause intense emotions that can vary wildly.
They can also affect your dreams.
Many women report having very vivid or bizarre dreams in the weeks before they found out they were pregnant.
What Is The Difference Between Early Pregnancy Symptoms And PMS?
You might have noticed many early pregnancy symptoms before missed period are almost exactly the same as the symptoms of PMS.
The only sign which can’t be attributed to PMS is the change in your areolas, if conception has happened.
If you’ve been tracking your body’s basal temperature and cervical mucus, you might notice other reliable signs of pregnancy.
After ovulation, a consistently raised basal temperature and increased creamy vaginal discharge are reasonably reliable signs of conception, but not 100% guarantees.
The only way to know with certainty whether early pregnancy symptoms are due to pregnancy or PMS is to wait until your period is due and then do a pregnancy test.