Early Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

Sometimes it's hard to interpret the signals your body is sending you. If you suspect you might be experiencing the first signs of pregnancy, you're probably eager to know for sure. Here we list some of the early signs of pregnancy, but keep in mind you may only notice some of them. If you're in doubt about whether you're pregnant, a home pregnancy test or your healthcare provider can confirm it.

First Signs of Pregnancy

Each pregnancy is unique, but you might even experience certain signs of pregnancy from even before a missed period. Take this “Am I Pregnant?” quiz and read up on some of the early pregnancy signs:

  • Missing a menstrual period. One of the very early signs of pregnancy is a missed period, though if you have an irregular menstrual cycle, this sign can be misleading.
  • Implantation bleeding. Spotting can actually be a very early sign of pregnancy, as it may be implantation bleeding, which happens when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus.
  • Cramping. Some moms-to-be experience mild uterine cramps during the first trimester. To soothe your lower abdomen, place a hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel, on your belly or take a warm bath.
  • Feeling hot. Elevated pregnancy hormone levels and a metabolism that has sped up can both lead to an increase in your core body temperature, so you might be feeling a little warmer than usual. Your body compensates for this by sweating more to help cool you down.
  • Heart racing. Hormonal changes can also cause heart palpitations, but if they last more than a few seconds, or if they happen frequently, contact your healthcare provider for a checkup to make sure everything is OK.
  • Mood Changes. Finding out you’re pregnant is a big milestone, and it’s natural to feel everything from joy and excitement to anxiety and confusion. It may help to speak to your loved ones about your feelings.
  • Bloating and constipation. As the digestive system slows, you may also feel bloated (similar to what it can feel like at the start of your period) and constipated. Eat high-fiber foods, drink lots of water, and – if you can – add some exercise to your day.
  • Heartburn. This happens because during pregnancy the muscles that keep digestive acids out of the esophagus tend to relax. Eat small, frequent meals and avoid fried foods, citrus fruits, chocolate, and spicy or fried foods to help prevent heartburn.
  • Acne. The overproduction of sebum (oil) in the skin can cause pimple outbreaks during pregnancy. Gently cleanse your skin each day, use non-greasy cosmetics, and consult your healthcare provider about anti-acne medications that are safe.
  • Dizziness. Low blood sugar levels, stress, and fatigue can make you feel dizzy or faint. Eat small, regular meals, and try to keep stress under control.
  • Weight gain. Some women gain between 1 to 4 pounds in the first few months of pregnancy, but your doctor will be able to advise you on healthy pregnancy weight gain that is right for you.
  • Stuffy nose. In early pregnancy, the mucous membranes in your nose swell, dry out, and bleed easily. To help relieve congestion, consider using a humidifier, or try saline drops or a saline rinse, and remember to stay hydrated.
  • Headaches. Headaches can be an early sign of pregnancy as estrogen levels rise. You may also experience tension headaches, which may be caused by stress or fatigue. Check with your healthcare provider about possible medications; for most pregnant women, acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) is considered safe to treat the odd headache.
  • Frequent urination. If you need to pee more often than usual, it could be a sign of pregnancy as your kidneys are processing more fluid, which end up in your bladder. Don't drink less water, though, as keeping hydrated is very important.
  • Tender, swollen breasts. Early on, your breasts may feel more tender and become larger, but as your body adjusts to the hormonal changes, the discomfort may decrease.
  • Morning sickness. This is a classic pregnancy symptom, and morning sickness often starts about a month after you become pregnant. For some women, morning sickness occurs at other times of the day, not just in the morning, while other women won't experience it at all. Eat something before getting out of bed, and then have small, regular meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
  • Food cravings or aversions and smell sensitivity. Signs of early pregnancy also include changes in taste, smell, and cravings. Keep up a balanced diet, and talk to your doctor if you crave non-food items (like chalk or dirt).
  • Tiredness. It's natural to feel tired while pregnant, particularly early on. Your body is working hard to support your baby, so give yourself plenty of time to rest and relax.
  • Skin changes. You may notice skin pigmentation changes, such as the darkening of the skin around your nipples, dark patches on your face, or the appearance of a dark line from your navel to your pubic bone.

Do All Women Get Early Pregnancy Symptoms?

Each mom-to-be and each pregnancy is unique, so you may only notice some of these early signs of pregnancy. For example, you may notice some signs of pregnancy before you even miss a period; alternatively, missing a period may be your first clue that you are pregnant. What's more, the symptoms you notice in a second pregnancy may be different from what you experienced the first time around.

If you think you may be pregnant, a home pregnancy test will confirm it. If you experience any of the symptoms of early pregnancy but the test comes out negative, there is still a chance you may be pregnant. Wait a week, and then take the test again. If the test is positive, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to confirm the pregnancy. You can also use our due date calculator to find out how far along you are in your pregnancy.

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, check out our go-to pregnancy guide, which includes all the most important things you'll need to navigate your pregnancy, including infographics, checklists, trackers, and more!

What Else You Might Experience Throughout Pregnancy

Throughout your pregnancy, your body will do some weird and wonderful things. Some of these physical changes (like morning sickness) may subside, while others (like nasal congestion and heartburn) may continue over the course of your pregnancy. These are some of the changes you may experience during the second and third trimesters:

  • Discharge. A sticky, clear, or white vaginal discharge is normal during pregnancy, but contact your doctor if it becomes strong smelling or is accompanied by a sore, itchy vagina.
  • Cramps or pain in the lower abdomen. In later pregnancy, you may experience a cramping sensation, which may be a result of round ligament pain or Braxton-Hicks “practice”
  • Back Pain. Backaches can be caused by hormonal changes, weight gain, and changes in your posture due to your growing belly. Practicing good posture, sleeping on your side, and getting some physical activity in each day may help relieve the pain.
  • Frequent urination. Although the more frequent urination that you may have experienced early in pregnancy probably subsides in the second trimester, by the third trimester, it may return again. This is because your growing baby moves deeper into the pelvis, putting pressure on your bladder, so you may feel the urge to pee more often.
  • Itchy Skin. Wherever your skin stretches during pregnancy (for example, the abdomen and thighs), it could start to feel itchy. Avoid scratching, use a good moisturizer, and shower or bathe in lukewarm water, as hot water can dry out skin.
  • Breast changes.The tenderness and swelling you may be experiencing in the early stages are only one of the changes you might see in your breasts during your pregnancy. Others could include darker nipples, stretch marks and – especially in the third trimester – leaky breasts.
  • Stretch marks. As your skin stretches during pregnancy, you may notice stretch marks forming on areas like your belly, thighs, buttocks, and breasts. Gaining a healthy amount of weight slowly over the pregnancy may help minimize these streaks.
  • Shortness of breath. Your growing baby pushing against your lungs may cause that out-of-breath feeling. Good posture may give your lungs more room to expand.
  • Various aches and pains. You may feel different symptoms at different points throughout pregnancy, such as dental pain or sensitivity, varicose veins or hemorrhoids, and swollen feet or leg cramps. Read more about some of these aches and pains along with tips here.

Most of the time, these physical discomforts and changes are completely normal, but there are some signs you should not ignore, including severe headaches, changes in eyesight, or sudden swelling (edema). If you notice anything that just doesn't seem right, consult your healthcare provider.

These daily signs of being pregnant can be pretty tiresome, but in no time at all, your due date will be here, and you'll be taking your baby home. Putting up with all these pesky pregnancy symptoms will have been worth it! See our Pregnancy Calendar for a more detailed description of what happens during each week, month, and trimester. You're embarking on an amazing journey – enjoy the ride.

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