If you’re reading this, you probably don’t want to wait for a missed period before you take a pregnancy test.
You’re looking for a way to know as soon as possible.
You want to know about early pregnancy symptoms.
Here are the most common early pregnancy signs and symptoms.
How early do pregnancy symptoms start?
Some women say they ‘just knew’ the moment they conceived. It’s as though they had a feeling or intuition that conception had occurred.
There are definitely some early pregnancy symptoms that are noticeable if you know what you’re looking for. If you’re waiting for your period, though, you might just put it down to hormones.
How early can I take a pregnancy test?
If you’re anticipating pregnancy you might start to inspect your body for changes right after ovulation.
A fertilized egg only starts to produce hCG (the hormone which the pee-stick tests detect) after implantation, however, not before.
And implantation occurs from about 7-10 days after ovulation.
That’s why it’s not possible to have physical symptoms of pregnancy, or detect a pregnancy, before this time.
How do I know if I’m pregnant without any symptoms?
The best way to find out whether you’re pregnant without symptoms is to wait for a missed period before taking a pregnancy test.
As hard as it might be, it’s best to wait until you miss a period before using a home pregnancy test kit. This makes sure your hormone levels are high enough for an accurate result.
Find out more in our article How Accurate Is An Early Pregnancy Test?
What are the early signs of pregnancy?
Remember, each woman and every pregnancy is unique.
Don’t worry if you don’t experience any of the specific early pregnancy symptoms listed below. You might have few or many signs of pregnancy, but there is a wide range of ‘normal’.
Here are 17 early pregnancy symptoms which you might experience:
Pregnancy Symptoms #1: Higher basal body temperature (BBT) in early pregnancy
Of all the symptoms of pregnancy, this is quite a niche sign of early pregnancy. It will probably only help the fertility buffs out there who’ve been tracking their BBT for a while. But it’s one of the earliest signs you might spot.
Progesterone causes your BBT to rise when ovulation occurs and, if you’re pregnant, it will stay elevated.
If you’re not pregnant, your BBT will drop as you experience pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), followed by your menstrual period, as normal.
Pregnancy Symptoms #2: Missed period
An obvious early pregnancy symptom is missing a period – especially if there hasn’t been any implantation bleeding.
Although this symptom is the one we most commonly associate with pregnancy, there could be other reasons why you’re missing periods.
Factors such as high-stress levels, air travel, major illness, or surgery can all result in missing a period.
Or your period might just be late, after a longer PMS.
Find out about other reasons in Missed Period – Am I Pregnant?
Pregnancy Symptoms #3: Increased weight
You might be aware your waistline is expanding, which is another early pregnancy symptom. An increase of up to 4 lbs (1.8 kgs) in the first trimester is commonly accepted as normal.
Some women might actually lose weight, because of food aversions or sickness.
In your second and third trimesters, extra weight is the result of your growing uterus and baby, increased blood volume and fluid, and the placenta.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests an overall weight gain of 25-35 lbs (11-16 kgs) for women with a normal body mass index.
Pregnancy Symptoms #4: Morning sickness
Right after a missed period, nausea, retching, or vomiting are all common early pregnancy symptoms.
Many women experience nausea during early pregnancy, due to hormonal changes a few weeks after conception.
Blame those hormones, but don’t let the name ‘morning sickness’ fool you. It can pay you a visit any time of the day. Certain foods or smells can really set it off too.
This symptom is related to the increased levels of estrogen running through your blood vessels, and levels can fluctuate throughout the day.
Make sure you’re eating enough and avoid letting your blood sugar levels drop. This can be difficult when you’re suffering from food aversions that cause nausea.
Often, unfortunately, the very foods that make you feel better to tend to be processed and full of sugar.
You’ll feel better in the long run if you eat healthily, and avoid the temptation to binge on sugar or junk food. Be sure to drink filtered water, too.
For many pregnant women, morning sickness disappears by the end of the first trimester. For some, it carries on for longer.
If your morning sickness persists, you might need to see a doctor. You could have a condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
Here are 8 Tips To Reduce Morning Sickness.
Pregnancy Symptoms #5: Breast changes
Early in pregnancy, not too long after you get a positive pregnancy test, a pregnancy symptom you might experience is breast changes.
Some of the first signs when it comes to breast changes are:
- Breast tenderness. Your breasts change throughout all stages of pregnancy. You could have tender breasts during the first weeks after conception.
- Your areolas and nipples. They might feel enlarged and look darker. The areola act as visual ‘targets’ for your baby to latch on after birth and the darkening pigment makes it easier for the baby to see.
- Your nipples might be more sensitive. The little ‘bumps’ on your areolas (Montgomery glands) often increase or enlarge.
Find out more in Breast Changes During Pregnancy – 7 Different Changes.
Pregnancy Symptoms #6: Increased vaginal discharge
Hormonal changes in early pregnancy can result in increased vaginal discharge. A surge in your progesterone levels often results in a surge of cervical mucus production.
Some women have only a little discharge, while others notice much more. If it bothers you, wearing a panty liner might help.
To learn more, be sure to read Discharge During Pregnancy – What’s Normal and What’s Not.
Pregnancy Symptoms #7: Fatigue
When you first become pregnant, your metabolism speeds up in order to support your developing baby.
This creates a bigger workload, leading to fatigue. It’s one of the symptoms of pregnancy many women find hard to cope with.
The pregnancy hormone progesterone also has a sedating effect, and this, together with fatigue, can in some cases cause dizziness.
No wonder you feel so tired, especially in your first trimester. If you have to rest or sleep, don’t fight your body – it obviously needs it.
Read BellyBelly’s article about Pregnancy Fatigue for more information.
Pregnancy Symptoms #8: Frequent urination
As early as 7 days after conception, an early sign of pregnancy might involve you dashing to the toilet more often, only to find you’re urinating in small amounts.
This happens because the embryo secretes the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which signals the body to increase blood supply to the pelvic area.
This causes the bladder to become irritable, resulting in the urge to pass urine. You may wake in the night to urinate more often than usual, but produce only small amounts.
Ironically, this pregnancy symptom appears again in the third trimester – because babies seem to thoroughly enjoy bouncing on their mother’s bladder.
Pregnancy Symptoms #9: Cramping
For many women, some pregnancy symptoms may feel unnerving. This is especially the case with uterine cramps.
During pregnancy, the baby grows and pushes against the walls of the uterus, which causes it to contract; this is very normal.
Be sure to read Cramps During Pregnancy – What You Need To Know for more information about the different causes of cramping.
If the cramping is excessive or accompanied by bleeding, you should contact your doctor.
Women can have both cramping and bleeding during pregnancy and still continue with a healthy pregnancy.
Pregnancy Symptoms #10: Implantation bleeding
Of all the early pregnancy symptoms, bleeding and spotting are the scariest to experience – especially if it’s taken you quite some time to get pregnant.
Thankfully, spotting is usually nothing to worry about. It’s likely to be implantation bleeding.
Around 8-10 days after ovulation (during your 3rd-4th week of pregnancy, just before you would normally get your period) you might notice light bleeding.
This can happen when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of your womb, which has increased blood flow.
Implantation bleeding is usually pinkish or possibly brown in color, and not red like a normal menstrual period.
Pregnancy Symptoms #11: Constipation and wind
These pregnancy symptoms just keep getting better, don’t they?
Increased levels of pregnancy hormones have an effect on your digestive system. Everything is more relaxed, which helps to make more space for the baby as your uterus expands.
As a result, you might become constipated. And yes, you might also notice an increase in gas.
Luckily there are plenty of things you can do about it.
Start with safe, natural remedies first; some of them are very effective.
There are some remedies available from your pharmacist that are also safe during pregnancy, but always check with your doctor or pharmacist before purchasing.
Pregnancy Symptoms #12: Sense of smell
If certain food smells are making you feel nauseous, it could be another ‘fun’ early sign of pregnancy.
Don’t worry, your whole house doesn’t really smell like the kitchen compost bin.
Pregnancy has just heightened your sense of smell.
Smells that never bothered you before might suddenly become intolerable, and even cause nausea.
Certain foods or cooking smells are usually the culprits. Every woman is different, though, and you might dislike all sorts of smells.
Pregnancy Symptoms #13: Pimples and acne
Even if you don’t usually get pimples or acne, you might get them in early pregnancy.
Acne during pregnancy will most likely settle after your hormones stabilize. If it carries on after the first trimester of pregnancy, your doctor or midwife can offer you a blood test.
For more information see our article Pregnancy Acne – Tips For Acne During Pregnancy.
Pregnancy Symptoms #14: Cravings and changes in taste
There are a few different reasons why women have pregnancy cravings.
The rising hormone levels in your blood can affect your saliva. You might notice a metallic taste in your mouth, which alters the taste of foods you usually enjoy.
Some women have weird pregnancy cravings and also crave things that aren’t foods.
For example, they could be drawn to eat dirt, clay, or chalk. This condition is called pica and it’s believed to be due to mineral deficiencies.
Ask your naturopath or doctor to check your ferritin levels (iron stores) and zinc, as you could be deficient in these minerals.
Pregnancy Symptoms #15: Change in color of your vagina
This is unlikely to be the first of your early pregnancy symptoms.
Imagine: “Honey, come quick, my vagina has changed color!”
In fact, unless you spend a lot of time admiring yourself in a mirror, you’re unlikely to notice this one at all.
But if you take a look, you might find your vagina appears more purplish than normal. This is due to the increased blood supply to the pelvic region.
Pregnancy Symptoms #16: Emotional swings
Of all the pregnancy symptoms, mood swings, moodiness, and being overly emotional can be the most embarrassing (afterwards, at least).
During your pregnancy, it’s generally accepted you’ll cry in front of your boss, swear at your partner daily, and donate all of your life savings to charity because the kitten on the advert looks so sad.
It’s definitely one of those tell-tale early signs of pregnancy. Early on, most women come face to face with mood swings, emotional outbursts and have a meltdown or two.
Pregnancy Symptoms #17: Heartburn
Heartburn might be a little unexpected, as it’s more commonly associated with the third trimester. But digestive changes are a feature of early pregnancy.
Once again, it all thanks to the pregnancy hormones progesterone and relaxin.
Is Heartburn An Early Sign Of Pregnancy? has tips to help you get some relief.