It’s been a few weeks since you did the deed (without protection), and now you’re wondering, “Am I pregnant?”
You feel more exhausted than normal; your breasts are swollen and tender; and you’re always running to the bathroom to pee. Are your symptoms normal PMS, or are you pregnant?
Because PMS symptoms can be remarkably similar to the very early signs of pregnancy, it’s a good idea for you to assume that you’re pregnant (or could be pregnant). If you think that you might be pregnant, start making healthy eating choices, pay careful attention to any over-the-counter or prescription medications you take, and avoid any nicotine or alcohol products until you rule out pregnancy. Make sure that you also begin taking prenatal vitamins!
So, what are the earliest signs of pregnancy?
Having a missed or late period is a universal sign of pregnancy. If your period doesn’t arrive, or if it’s delayed (and you are always regular), this is a sign that you need to run and buy a home pregnancy test.
Sometimes, a missed period can be caused by non-pregnancy related problems, such as stress, hormonal problems, breastfeeding, going off birth control, excessive weight gain, and other factors. Taking a home pregnancy test is the only way for you to really know whether or not you’re pregnant.
It is impossible for a woman to continue to menstruate during pregnancy. After fertilization (the egg and sperm join and create a new life), your future baby travels through the fallopian tube to your uterus (womb), where it will attach to your uterine lining. When this occurs, hormonal changes occur that temporarily shut off your menstrual cycle for the next nine months (or longer, if you decide to breastfeed).
High Basal Body Temperature
If you’ve been trying to conceive and you’ve charted your basal body temperature, you will notice that your BBT stays elevated after you conceive. A basal body temperature that stays high for 18 days in a row means that there’s a strong possibility that you’re pregnant.
Usually, basal body temperature only stays high from ovulation until you have your period. But if it continues to be elevated for two weeks, then you should take a home pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy.
Light Spotting (Implantation Bleeding)
One of the very early signs of pregnancy is implantation bleeding – light brownish spotting or staining. Some women often confuse this light bleeding with a period, but it should only last one or two days. Implantation bleeding is not heavy like a regular period. It should look like a light day of your period.
Implantation bleeding typically occurs six to seven days after conception (fertilization), and it’s the result of the fertilized egg burrowing and imbedding itself into the lining of your uterus. No one really knows why some women experience this very early sign of pregnancy, and other women do not.
Tender and Swollen Breasts
If you’ve noticed that your breasts are swollen – bigger than normal – and tender to touch, this may be a really early sign of pregnancy. Sore and sensitive breasts can occur within one to three weeks after conception, even before you realize that you’re pregnant.
Hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy can make your breasts tingly, sore, and just painful to touch. Your breasts can also become heavier and fuller. Some women describe this pregnancy breast change like how your breasts feel during PMS, only ten times worse. Fortunately, your breasts don’t feel sore forever. Your discomfort tends to lessen in the second trimester.
But if you notice this early sign of pregnancy, you need to take a home pregnancy test to see whether or not it’s PMS or Pregnancy.
Some women experience fatigue when they’re PMSing, and extreme fatigue is also one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. If you suddenly feel overwhelmingly exhausted for no reason, you might be expecting a baby. Some pregnant women feel so tired that they fall asleep at work, and they just want to sleep all the time.
Unexplained, extreme fatigue is a very common early sign of pregnancy, and it can strike within the first week after fertilization. Pregnancy hormones, especially the soaring levels of progesterone, are to blame for this first early pregnancy sign. Fatigue tends to let up by the end of the first trimester, and you will have more energy in the second trimester.
Nausea or Vomiting
Morning sickness isn’t one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, but it can strike pretty early for some women. A majority of women won’t start to get nauseous or pukey until a month after conception (around 6 weeks pregnant), but this pregnancy symptom can strike a few weeks earlier for other women.
You may feel nauseous at any point during the day – not just in the morning. For some pregnant women, their morning sickness is just worse in the beginning of the day. Others just feel sick all day long. Your nausea might come with bouts of vomiting, but some women are queasy without the vomiting. Certain smells or foods can trigger your nausea.
Morning sickness is caused, in part, by the soaring levels of estrogen and progesterone in early pregnancy. You typically start to feel better in the second trimester, when your hormonal levels level out.
Bloating is another early sign of pregnancy, and it’s also caused by hormonal changes. Because your digestive system slows down when you’re expecting, this can also contribute to your abdominal bloating in the first trimester.
You may notice that your stomach feels more bloated than usual; it may even look bigger than normal. Your clothes may feel tighter around the waistline. If you tend to get bloated when you have PMS, you should probably expect to feel bloated in the early weeks of pregnancy.
Everyone makes fun of pregnant women and how often they have to go pee. It’s sad but true. When you’re expecting a baby, you have to urinate … a lot.
Frequent urination is actually one of the very early signs of pregnancy. Within a few weeks after conception, the growing uterus presses against the bladder, causing you to feel like you have to urinate more often. You also have more blood circulating in your body when you’re pregnant, which causes your kidneys to have to work twice as hard, and fills up your bladder more quickly, so you have to pee a lot more.
Are You Pregnant?
If you have missed your period, and you’ve noticed any of the above early signs of pregnancy, it’s a good idea for you to take a home pregnancy test or contact your doctor for an appointment. The earlier you confirm your pregnancy and receive prenatal care, the better off your future baby will be.