Last updated March 23, 2018.
Are you pregnant? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Most doctors recommend waiting until you miss a period before trying to take a home pregnancy test, but that could be weeks away. Your body may give you clues much earlier than that first missed menstrual cycle. So, what are the first signs of pregnancy?
1. Implantation Bleeding
A couple of days after the egg is fertilized, it will implant onto the wall of the uterus. That can cause spotting and cramping, called “implantation bleeding.” It’s a little bit like having a period, except there will be very little blood and the cramps are usually very mild. In fact, you may have spotting and cramping for several weeks after conception.
You may also notice a thick, white discharge from your vagina starting almost immediately after conception. This is caused by the thickening of the vaginal walls in preparation for the pregnancy. These changes are some of the very first signs of pregnancy that can appear.
2. Sore Breasts
When you get pregnant, your hormone levels change very quickly. Within as little as a week after conception, your breasts may become swollen and tender as pregnancy hormones flood your body and start getting it ready to accommodate your new little one. You may also notice your nipples and areolae getting darker. This is another symptom that can be tough to distinguish from your regular menstrual cycle, but sore breasts at an unusual time of the month can be one of the first signs of pregnancy as your body gets ready to start producing milk.
3. Mood Swings
Those same hormones that can affect your mood during a menstrual cycle are present in full force during pregnancy. You may find yourself having wild mood swings or feeling unusually emotional. If it’s the wrong time of month for those symptoms, you may be pregnant. The good news is that those hormones typically level out after the first trimester, making your mood easier to manage.
See also: Is ‘Pregnancy Brain’ Real?
4. Heightened Sense Of Smell
Many women report a serious increase in the sensitivity of their noses during pregnancy. Experts aren’t sure why this happens but believe it’s also linked to those pesky pregnancy hormones. You may notice that certain smells, especially food smells, become unbearable to be around. You may also find certain smells extremely enticing, even if they’re things you’ve never liked before. It’s OK to avoid the foods that smell bad to you and to eat the foods that smell good to you, within moderation. As always, you’ll just want to make sure that you’re eating a balanced diet.
It’s thought that this heightened sense of smell may be linked to the morning sickness that many women experience during the first trimester.
Fatigue is another early symptom linked to the rush of hormones your body produces when you conceive. Early in your pregnancy, you’ll produce a lot of progesterone. That can make you feel sleepy all the time — you may find yourself needing an afternoon nap and extra sleep at night. Feeling tired even when you’re well-rested may be an early sign of pregnancy.
6. Constipation and Frequent Urination
In addition to spotting, sore breasts, moodiness, a heightened sense of smell, and unusual fatigue, pregnancy hormones can also make you constipated. Pregnancy slows down your whole digestive system, allowing the absorption of more of the liquid in your stool. That makes you more likely to be constipated.
You’ll also start to build up a higher circulating volume as your body prepares to nourish a growing baby, so your kidneys will be working overtime and you’ll likely need to urinate more often. You might find yourself getting up in the middle of the night to pee when you’ve never needed to do that before. This may get worse later on as your pregnancy progresses and your uterus starts to put physical pressure on your bladder.
Constipation and frequent urination typically start early on in the pregnancy and last the whole way through.
Pregnancy makes your blood vessels dilate, which causes your blood pressure to drop. That can leave you feeling faint or dizzy, especially when you stand up quickly. Your body is routing all the blood it can to your uterus and the new baby, which means pulling it away from the rest of your body and sometimes leaving you lightheaded. If you do feel faint, you should lie down on your side to maximize the blood flow to your brain and relieve the dizziness.
If you find that you’re actually fainting, you should contact your doctor to make sure you’re not suffering from a more serious health condition.
Other Pregnancy Hints
Some women report that they simply knew they were pregnant — they just had a feeling. Others have reported that close friends or family members knew they were pregnant before they knew it themselves because they had a certain “glow” about them.
There are no studies on whether women can feel that they’re pregnant before they start having physical symptoms, but it’s always a good idea to listen to your body and to the people close to you. You can keep an eye out for other early signs of pregnancy until it’s time to take a pregnancy test.
Am I pregnant?
These seven signs may be your body’s way of telling you that you have a little one on the way. Unfortunately, none of them are unambiguous. They may be caused by your regular menstrual cycle, by stress at work or in your personal life, or by other health conditions. The only way to know for sure if you’re pregnant is to take a pregnancy test. Those tests work by measuring the hormone levels in your urine, but those levels won’t necessarily be clear until you’ve already been pregnant for a few weeks.
Remember that every woman is different and so is every pregnancy. Some women have no early signs while others simply feel pregnant right away. If you’re trying to get pregnant, your best bet is to track your cycles, pay attention to your body, and take a pregnancy test if you miss a period.
How did you know you were pregnant? Tell us about it in the comments!