Early Signs of Pregnancy

Are you wondering if you are pregnant? Some times we think we are pregnant well before our period is missed. And some women “just know” within hours of conception not to mention a few weeks down the road when the pregnancy test becomes more of confirmation then an actual test.

It is worth it to note that not all women experience early pregnancy symptoms, and sometimes pregnancy symptoms are similar to other things that may be happening in your body, like getting sick or getting your period. Noticing some (or all) of these symptoms does not guarantee that you are pregnant. But if you experience them and suspect you may be, then try an at-home pregnancy test or book an appointment with your health care provider to confirm.

The Classic Symptoms

Many of us won’t necessarily know we are pregnant until we miss our period, but if you are paying attention to your body you could very well notice these early signs of pregnancy before then.

Fatigue

During early pregnancy your progesterone hormone production skyrockets, which can make you sleepy. Fatigue, in general, is one of those symptoms that is often associated with all of the pregnancy but can be especially intense in your first trimester and be caused by more than just the progesterone levels increase. If you think about it your body is working overtime to support not just you but build the environment your baby needs to develop. That takes a lot of time and effort.

Things like a lower blood sugar level, lower blood pressure, and a boost in blood production can also contribute to your exhaustion. During pregnancy, it is important to get lots of rest, and eating foods that are rich in protein and iron can help stabilize your energy level. It’s also important to start taking your prenatal vitamins early on, and drink plenty of fluids to keep your blood pressure up.

Your Boobs are screaming at you

Ok, they might not be screaming per say, but they can definitely change. The first time I was ever pregnant the first thing I noticed was that my boobs were so sore all the time I couldn’t wear a good number of my usually comfy clothing. And to top that off the girls were also spilling out of every bra I owned… which was fun for about a week until it got to be exhausting.

Our hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone in this case) change rapidly after conception, and one of the side effects this can cause is swollen, sore, or tingly boobs within a few weeks. Sometimes they feel heavier or fuller and can feel tender to the touch. The area around your nipple (called the areola) can also darken in color. Basically, your body is preparing you to nurse that baby as this is usually a side effect of the glands growing and retaining more fluid.

If you are really sore/tender you may want to apply cool compresses to them to help ‘numb’ them a bit. But usually, this will go away/decrease in sensitivity within several weeks.

Peeing more often

There are tones of jokes and stories about how often pregnant women need to pee…and the early days are not excluded. For most women, this starts around the sixth or eighth week after conception. As your body starts to ramp up production of blood cells and other hormones to help support this new growing life it also needs to remove all the waste and buildup of the “used up” materials that it no longer needs. Meaning you could very well need the bathroom more often.

This could also be an indication of a urinary tract infection, or other medical issues if you are concerned or think it may be more then pregnancy make sure to check with your Care Provider.

Nausea (with or without throwing up)

Morning Sickness can strike at any time, day, night, and even within 24 hours of conception. While most women won’t start to experience this particular symptom until after the first month if you randomly start throwing up or feeling nauseous and are clearly not sick… you could very well be pregnant (thank you baby number 2 for showing me exactly how early this one can hit).

This can also show up as motion sickness, so things like reading in the car or feeling sick when flying when that isn’t normal for you could be an indicator. Some medical professionals think we can thank progesterone for our digestive system slow down, this means our stomachs stay full longer which makes it think it needs to purge the contents (in either direction). Nausea is also related to the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone which is the hormone tested for in blood work to confirm a pregnancy. The higher the HCG levels (like with twins) the more nausea you may experience.

Fortunately for most women, the symptoms lessen at about the 13th or 14th week of pregnancy.

Missed Period

Many women rely on this indicator before taking a pregnancy test and it is often the most obvious symptom. And while sometimes we have wildly fluctuating cycles if yours is a week or more later then usual it’s likely a good idea to take a pregnancy test. But not all missed or delayed periods are caused by pregnancy.

Things like weight changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress and fatigue, in general, may also cause you to miss a period.

Some women also experience bleeding during pregnancy which may be perceived as a period.

Other Symptoms you may notice

Acne

Most people will start noticing a “pregnancy glow” later in the pregnancy, but some lucky women start the extra oil production earlier. This is due to a combination of increased blood volume and higher hormone levels. The increased activity of your body’s oil glands gives the skin a flushed, glossy appearance which sometimes leads to Acne as well…

Back pain

One of the big changes your body goes through in pregnancy is that of the growing baby, and most of us expect in the latter terms to have some back pain. However your body is preparing now for what will come, and that may include some adjustments to your alignment now. It also is a sign that your uterus is stretching to accommodate the new baby.

Bloating

Again something we can thank hormones and a slower digestive tract for… this can also feel a lot like the bloating you get right before your period starts.

Body Temperature Changes

Specifically, your Basal Body Temp (the first thing in the morning after resting) temperature is often used to check when you are ovulating. It typically goes half a degree or more higher when you release an egg and stays higher until your period starts. So if you are charting this fertility sign you may notice that this stays higher for two (2) weeks or more. This is your body’s way of creating the optimal environment for the fertilized egg to implant.

Constipation

Hormonal changes to the notice again, when our systems flood with hormones in preparation for our pregnancy it slows down the digestive system which can cause constipation. Keep up with eating your fiber and drink lots of water and exercise to help keep things moving and comfortable if you notice this one.

Cramping

Sometimes known as “implantation cramping” some women will experience mild cramps similar to the start of a menstrual period. It’s usually caused by the fertilized egg implanting in the lining of the uterus. This may be accompanied by some bleeding.

Cravings

Cravings are meant to help your body get the nutrients it needs for both you and baby. If you are low on something your body deems important in all likelihood it is going to tell you with a craving. If you are getting these frequently check with your Doctor or Midwife about being tested and if you are deficient what the best course of action is for you.

Most women tend to crave more carbs than anything else, this is the bodies way of making it’s work easier since carbs are more easily metabolized and will help keep your energy levels up.

Dizziness and/or fainting

These may be related to dilating blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and/or lower blood sugar levels.

Faster Heartbeat

You might notice that your heart rate picks up and pumps blood faster than normal. This is due to (you guessed it) hormones (usually). The increased blood flow is to support the growing baby.

Food Aversions

Food aversions in pregnancy are meant to protect you and baby from eating things that could be harmful to either of you. Many of us have this to a degree when we are not pregnant, however, your body wants to protect the baby as best it can which means this is going to get stronger/more noticeable.

Headaches

A number of women I know complained early on about getting more frequent yet mild headaches. The increased blood volume can cause this, or the fact that you are more sensitive to tension. Keep drinking enough water to help reduce and possibly eliminate these. It’s also a good idea to have your iron levels checked as being anemic can add to the issue.

Heartburn

Hormones can cause all sorts of havoc with your system, and the valve between your stomach and esophagus sometimes relaxes with this fluctuation meaning it could leak stomach acid causing heartburn.

Light Spotting

Known as implantation bleeding a small amount of light spotting is one of the first signs of pregnancy. It usually happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus (around 10 to 14 days after conception) and can occur around the same time you would expect your period, not all women notice this but if you have it and are hoping to have a baby it could be your first indicator that one is on the way.

Besides bleeding you may also notice some white, milky discharge. This is related to the thickening of the vagina’s walls which starts almost right after conception. This discharge can continue throughout pregnancy and is typically harmless. However, if you notice a bad smell or a burning/itching sensation check with your care provider so they can test for a yeast or bacterial infection.

Bleeding during the first trimester should also be evaluated for three things, potential miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and some infections. All of these potential issues should be discussed with your care provider, especially if you have any pain in your pelvis at the same time.

Normal implantation bleeding is usually similar to your regular menstrual period and can be pin, red, or brown in color lasting less than three days and does not require any kind of treatment.

Mood swings / Moodiness

Moodswings are common in pregnancy, and with the extra flood of hormones that hits you in early pregnancy, it can be a time of extra sensitivity. Also, keep an eye out on your fatigue levels as being tiered can impact your mood as well.

Nasal Congestion

Increased hormones mean lots of changes in your body… including changes in the mucous membranes in your nose. This can be a swelling (which means congestion) or a drying out (which means nose bleeds). Either way, you may notice a stuffy or runny nose. I know I’ve had this to varying degrees with all my pregnancies, and it can be normal. Just make sure you are staying hydrated, and if it gets uncomfortable then rinse with a Netti Pot or similar solution.

Weight Changes

A pregnant woman may have all or none of these symptoms, however, if any of them become bothersome talk to your care provider about making a plan to offset them.

Are you Really Pregnant?

Most (if not all) of these early pregnancy symptoms are not exclusive to pregnancy. Some can indicate you are sick, others might indicate you are about to start your period. And if you are pregnant you may not experience any of these (I’m jealous).

Sill if you are curious or wondering or worried about it take a pregnancy test. Home tests are pretty accurate these days if we follow the instructions, and if that comes back unclear or negative and you still suspect a pregnancy is brewing then see your health care provider for a blood test.

Of course, if your test comes back positive (CONGRATULATIONS) make sure you schedule an appointment with your health care provider for confirmation because the sooner you get that the sooner you can start getting the prenatal care you need. Don’t forget to make a to-do list for your first trimester of all the appointments you want to set up and look into if an OBGYN or Midwife is the best fit for you.

And keep in mind that many if not all of these symptoms lessen once you hit the second trimester.

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