What are the earliest signs of pregnancy? Is it possible to experience pregnancy symptoms even before the day you would normally expect to get your period?
While a positive pregnancy test and a missed period are the only sure signs of pregnancy, your body may indeed give you some early warnings that something very special is going on.
Here are some of the most common early pregnancy signs.
Pregnancy sign #1: Implantation bleeding
When a fertilized egg implants (attaches itself to the wall of your uterus) between six and twelve days after ovulation, it may cause a small bleeding, sometimes just a drop of blood or lightly colored (pink or brown) discharge.
What else could it be? Random hormonal fluctuations, your period starting (miscalculated ovulation day or too short luteal phase), an infection, vaginal bleeding after intercourse or for other reasons.
Pregnancy sign #2: Cramps
In very early pregnancy, many women feel cramps that are very similar to those you may have before and during your period.
This is because the uterus is already growing and stretching, preparing itself to make room for the baby throughout your pregnancy.
What else could it be? Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).
Pregnancy sign #3: Breast changes
It is not unusual to get sore and swollen breasts almost as soon as you get pregnant. This is due to the increased production of progesterone (read more in the article on conception). Your nipples may also become larger and darker.
What else could it be? PMS, hormonal changes that are not related to pregnancy.
Pregnancy sign #4: Elevated basal body temperature
If you are charting your basal body temperature and you are pregnant, your temperature will stay at the post-ovulation level past the time when it usually starts to drop before your period. Some newly pregnant women also see their temperature increasing to an even higher level after implantation, a so-called triphasic curve.
What else could it be? Hormonal imbalance, corpus luteum cyst, infection.
Pregnancy sign #5: Nausea
Morning sickness is a well-known pregnancy symptom which usually appears between two and eight weeks after conception, but for some women it starts earlier and it’s not always only in the morning. Some lucky pregnant women never experience nausea and vomiting, while others struggle with it throughout their entire pregnancy. Usually, nausea is worst during the first twelve weeks (the first trimester).
What else could it be? Food poisoning, digestive problems, stress.
Pregnancy sign #6: Fatigue
It is very common to feel sleepy and tired in the early stages of a pregnancy, and this fatigue can start before you have missed your period. Like breast changes, fatigue is due to the increased production of the relaxing hormone progesterone, but also to the fact that your body is mobilizing your forces in order to protect and nurture the growing life inside you.
What else could it be? Stress, exhaustion, depression, a common cold, flu or other infection.
Pregnancy sign #7: Dizziness
Some women experience dizziness, faintness and sudden falls in blood pressure in early pregnancy. This is because the blood vessels are expanding and the blood pressure gets lower.
What else could it be? Low blood sugar, low blood pressure, high blood pressure
Pregnancy sign #8: Headache
Many newly pregnant women get a headache, often occurring in the forehead, at the time of the first missed period. It is due to the hormonal changes in the body, or changes in blood sugar and blood pressure.
Important: If you need a painkiller to deal with the headache, you must choose one where the active ingredient is paracetamol (acetaminophen). Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen may increase the risk of miscarriages or birth defects.
What else could it be? PMS, stress, dehydration, illness.
Pregnancy sign #9: Frequent urination
It is well known that pregnant women need to urinate very frequently. In the later stages of pregnancy this is because the growing baby leaves less space for the bladder, but in early pregnancy it is due to hormonal changes.
What else could it be? Urinary tract infection, diabetes, large intake of liquids.
Pregnancy sign #10: Changing sense of taste and smell
Many newly pregnant women experience changes in their taste preferences. A sharpened sense of smell is also common, and smells you usually don’t mind may become unbearable – or extremely attractive. Perhaps evolution has made sure mothers-to-be are particularly aware of potential dangers such as contaminated or perished foods?
What else could it be? PMS, nutritional deficiency, poor diet.
Pregnancy sign #11: Mood swings
Many women experience mood swings and irritability in the days before their period, so it is difficult to distinguish this early pregnancy symptom from usual PMS. In both cases, the mood swings are due to hormonal changes in the body.
What else could it be? PMS, stress, depression, other psychological problems.
Pregnancy sign #12: Back pain and round ligament pain
Many pregnant women have back pains, especially in the lower back, and some experience ligament pain even before they get a positive pregnancy test. Later in the pregnancy, this is usually due to the extra weight and strain of the growing baby, but in the first weeks you may also have back and ligament pains due to hormonal changes.
What else could it be? MS, stress, unrelated back problems.
Pregnancy sign #13: Bleeding gums, aching teeth, metallic taste
These are probably among the less common early pregnancy signs, but some recently pregnant women experience changes in the mouth including bleeding gums, aching teeth and a metallic taste in the mouth. Like most early pregnancy signs, these are also due to hormonal changes.
What else could it be? Poor mouth hygiene, infections.
Pregnancy sign #14: Heartburn
The increased level of progesterone in early pregnancy can slow digestion and relax the valve that keeps stomach acids in the stomach, causing heartburn. To prevent heartburn, avoid sodas, acidic or spicy foods, and large meals.
What else could it be? Digestive problems, stress
Think you might be pregnant? Take a pregnancy test and find out!