Early Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy
No two women have exactly the same pregnancy symptoms. Symptoms can even differ from pregnancy to pregnancy. However, if you think there’s a chance you could be pregnant, there are some common signs and symptoms you can look for. While none of these are a guarantee you are or aren’t pregnant, they can be a good indication it’s time to schedule your free pregnancy test and learn your next steps.
Women frequently notice changes in their breasts as early as two weeks after conception. Your breasts may become larger, feel more sensitive, tingly or your nipples might enlarge and darken. This is all due to your body preparing to support milk production.
Almost all pregnant women feel tired more frequently and get tired more easily from doing routine tasks and activities. You may feel the urge to sit or lie down more frequently or simply feel sleepy during the day. This is due to the same changes in blood sugar levels and blood pressure that can cause dizziness. Women also tend to get fatigued when they don’t have enough iron or protein in their diet to support both their own metabolism and the growth of their baby.
Spotting or Cramping
Women generally associate bleeding, spotting and cramping with their menstrual cycle, but in some cases they can actually be signs of pregnancy instead. Implantation bleeding – which occurs when the embryo implants into the uterine wall – is one of the earliest and most common signs of pregnancy. It generally occurs within a week after fertilization, but it’s also very easy to mistake for your menstrual period.
Nausea or Vomiting
Many women experience “morning sickness,” where they feel inexplicably nauseous at different times through the day. Morning sickness can be mild to severe, and some women may not get any at all. Most women stop feeling nauseous by the second trimester. Morning sickness is caused by changing hormone levels, and it can also cause food cravings or aversions.
Dizziness or Fainting
Early in pregnancy many women experience dizziness, shortness of breath, and changes in balance. Though it can feel disorienting and even scary, it’s usually nothing to worry about and tends to go away on its own. Most of the time it is simply caused by changing hormone levels causing changes in blood flow and blood sugar.
Increased hormone levels in your blood stream cause your digestive processes to slow down. This can often lead to constipation, which is why it’s important for women who are pregnant to drink lots of water and to eat fiber-rich foods like green vegetables and whole grains.
Food and Smell Aversions
Many pregnant women report feelings of aversion to foods and smells that normally don’t bother them, such as coffee or onion. On the other hand, some women also note that they feel food cravings or suddenly like the smell of things they normally don’t enjoy. Nobody is sure what causes this symptom, but it’s common enough that you shouldn’t be worried if you experience it.
Aches and Pains
It’s very common for women to get headaches, backaches, and various muscle pains during pregnancy. Some are due to hormonal changes while others may be due to joint swelling or decreased mobility. You can use heating pads, cold wraps, or Tylenol (Acetominophen) to help alleviate these symptoms, but stay away from anti-inflammatories, such as Advil (Ibuprofen), Aleve (Naproxen), or Aspirin as they can cause severe pregnancy complications.
Finally, the single most common symptom of pregnancy is a missed period. However, it’s often hard for women to know for sure if they have missed their period, or if they might have missed it due to another reason (such as stress, illness, or changing their method of birth control). If you think you might have missed your period, you should schedule a free pregnancy test just in case. Taking a test early in pregnancy can help you understand and be prepared for other symptoms, and it can also help you know what options are available to you.