early symptoms of pregnancy

Overview

Pregnancy occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg after it’s released from the ovary during ovulation. The fertilized egg then travels down into the uterus, where implantation occurs. A successful implantation results in pregnancy.

On average, a full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. There are many factors that can affect a pregnancy. Women who receive an early pregnancy diagnosis and prenatal care are more likely to experience a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby.

Knowing what to expect during the full pregnancy term is important for monitoring both your health and the health of the baby. If you’d like to prevent pregnancy, there are also effective forms of birth control you should keep in mind.

Symptoms of pregnancy

You may notice some signs and symptoms before you even take a pregnancy test. Others will appear weeks later, as your hormone levels change.

1. Missed period

A missed period is one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy (and maybe the most classic one). However, a missed period doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pregnant, especially if your cycle tends to be irregular.

There are many health conditions other than pregnancy that can cause a late or missed period.

2. Headache

Headaches are common in early pregnancy. They’re usually caused by altered hormone levels and increased blood volume. Contact your doctor if your headaches don’t go away or are especially painful.

3. Spotting

Some women may experience light bleeding and spotting in early pregnancy. This bleeding is most often the result of implantation. Implantation usually occurs one to two weeks after fertilization.

Early pregnancy bleeding can also result from relatively minor conditions such as an infection or irritation. The latter often affects the surface of the cervix (which is very sensitive during pregnancy).

Bleeding can also sometimes signal a serious pregnancy complication, such as miscarriageectopic pregnancy, or placenta previa. Always contact your doctor if you’re concerned.

4. Weight gain

You can expect to gain between 1 and 4 pounds in your first few months of pregnancy. Weight gain becomes more noticeable toward the beginning of your second trimester.

5. Pregnancy-induced hypertension

High blood pressure, or hypertension, sometimes develops during pregnancy. A number of factors can increase your risk, including:

6. Heartburn

Hormones released during pregnancy can sometimes relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus. When stomach acid leaks out, this can result in heartburn.

7. Constipation

Hormone changes during early pregnancy can slow down your digestive system. As a result, you may become constipated.

8. Cramps

As the muscles in your uterus begin to stretch and expand, you may feel a pulling sensation that resembles menstrual cramps. If spotting or bleeding occurs alongside your cramps, it could signal a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.

9. Back pain

Hormones and stress on the muscles are the biggest causes of back pain in early pregnancy. Later on, your increased weight and shifted center of gravity may add to your back pain. Around half of all pregnant women report back pain during their pregnancy.

10. Anemia

Pregnant women have an increased risk of anemia, which causes symptoms such as lightheadedness and dizziness.

The condition can lead to premature birth and low birth weight. Prenatal care usually involves screening for anemia.

11. Depression

Between 14 and 23 percent of all pregnant women develop depression during their pregnancy. The many biological and emotional changes you experience can be contributing causes.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you don’t feel like your usual self.

12. Insomnia

Insomnia is another common symptom of early pregnancy. Stress, physical discomfort, and hormonal changes can be contributing causes. A balanced dietgood sleep habits, and yoga stretches can all help you get a good night’s sleep.

13. Breast changes

Breast changes are one of the first noticeable signs of pregnancy. Even before you’re far enough along for a positive test, your breasts may begin to feel tenderswollen, and generally heavy or full. Your nipples may also become larger and more sensitive, and the areolae may darken.

14. Acne

Because of increased androgen hormones, many women experience acne in early pregnancy. These hormones can make your skin oilier, which can clog pores. Pregnancy acne is usually temporary and clears up after the baby is born.

15. Vomiting

Vomiting is a component of “morning sickness,” a common symptom that usually appears within the first four months. Morning sickness is often the first sign that you’re pregnant. Increased hormones during early pregnancy are the main cause.

16. Hip pain

Hip pain is common during pregnancy and tends to increase in late pregnancy. It can have a variety of causes, including:

17. Diarrhea

Diarrhea and other digestive difficulties occur frequently during pregnancy. Hormone changes, a different diet, and added stress are all possible explanations. If diarrhea lasts more than a few days, contact your doctor to make sure you don’t become dehydrated.

18. Stress and pregnancy

While pregnancy is usually a happy time, it can also be a source of stress. A new baby means big changes to your body, your personal relationships, and even your finances. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for help if you begin to feel overwhelmed.

Summary

If you think you may be pregnant, you shouldn’t rely solely on these signs and symptoms for confirmation. Taking a home pregnancy test or seeing your doctor for lab testing can confirm a possible pregnancy.

Many of these signs and symptoms can also be caused by other health conditions, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). 


The early symptoms of pregnancy


Could you be pregnant? The proof is in the pregnancy test. But even before you miss a period, you might suspect — or hope — that you're pregnant. Know the first signs of pregnancy and why they occur.

Classic pregnancy signs and symptoms


The most common early signs and symptoms of pregnancy might include:
  • Missed period. If you're in your childbearing years and a week or more has passed without the start of an expected menstrual cycle, you might be pregnant. However, this symptom can be misleading if you have an irregular menstrual cycle.
  • Tender, swollen breasts. Early in pregnancy hormonal changes might make your breasts sensitive and sore. The discomfort will likely decrease after a few weeks as your body adjusts to hormonal changes.
  • Nausea with or without vomiting. Morning sickness, which can strike at any time of the day or night, often begins one month after you become pregnant. However, some women feel nausea earlier and some never experience it. While the cause of nausea during pregnancy isn't clear, pregnancy hormones likely play a role.
  • Increased urination. You might find yourself urinating more often than usual. The amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy, causing your kidneys to process extra fluid that ends up in your bladder.
  • Fatigue. Fatigue also ranks high among early symptoms of pregnancy. During early pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone soar — which might make you feel sleepy.

Other pregnancy signs and symptoms



Other less obvious signs and symptoms of pregnancy that you might experience during the first trimester include:
  • Moodiness. The flood of hormones in your body in early pregnancy can make you unusually emotional and weepy. Mood swings also are common.
  • Bloating. Hormonal changes during early pregnancy can cause you to feel bloated, similar to how you might feel at the start of a menstrual period.
  • Light spotting. Sometimes a small amount of light spotting is one of the first signs of pregnancy. Known as implantation bleeding, it happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus — about 10 to 14 days after conception. Implantation bleeding occurs around the time of a menstrual period. However, not all women have it.
  • Cramping. Some women experience mild uterine cramping early in pregnancy.
  • Constipation. Hormonal changes cause your digestive system to slow down, which can lead to constipation.
  • Food aversions. When you're pregnant, you might become more sensitive to certain odors and your sense of taste might change. Like most other symptoms of pregnancy, these food preferences can be chalked up to hormonal changes.
  • Nasal congestion. Increasing hormone levels and blood production can cause the mucous membranes in your nose to swell, dry out and bleed easily. This might cause you to have a stuffy or runny nose.

Are you really pregnant?


Unfortunately, many of these signs and symptoms aren't unique to pregnancy. Some can indicate that you're getting sick or that your period is about to start. Likewise, you can be pregnant without experiencing many of these symptoms.

Still, if you miss a period and notice some of the above signs or symptoms, take a home pregnancy test or see your health care provider. If your home pregnancy test is positive, make an appointment with your health care provider. The sooner your pregnancy is confirmed, the sooner you can begin prenatal care.