Early signs of pregnancy
Could you be pregnant? Some symptoms may show up about the time you've missed a period – or a week or two later. In fact, 7 out of 10 women have symptoms by the time they're six weeks pregnant.
If you're not keeping track of your menstrual cycle or if it varies widely from one month to the next, you may not be sure when to expect your period. But if you start to experience some of the symptoms below – not all women get them all – and you're wondering why you haven't gotten your period, you may very well be pregnant. Take a home pregnancy test to find out for sure!
10. Food aversions
If you're newly pregnant, it's not uncommon to feel repelled by the smell of a cup of coffee, and for certain aromas to trigger your gag reflex. Though no one knows for sure, this may be a side effect of rapidly increasing amounts of estrogen in your system. You may also find that certain foods you used to enjoy are suddenly completely repulsive to you.
9. Mood swings
It's common to have mood swings during pregnancy, partly because of hormonal changes that affect your levels of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). Everyone responds differently to these changes. Some moms-to-be experience heightened emotions, both good and bad; others feel more depressed or anxious.
Note: If you've been feeling sad or hopeless or unable to cope with your daily responsibilities, or you're having thoughts of harming yourself, call your healthcare provider or a mental health professional right away.
8. Abdominal bloating
Hormonal changes in early pregnancy may leave you feeling bloated, similar to the feeling some women have just before their period. That's why your clothes may feel more snug than usual at the waistline, even early on when your uterus is still quite small.
7. Frequent urination
Shortly after you become pregnant, hormonal changes prompt a chain of events that raise the rate of blood flow through your kidneys. This causes your bladder to fill more quickly, so you need to pee more often. This symptom may start as early as six weeks into your first trimester.
Frequent urination will continue – or intensify – as your pregnancy progresses. Your blood volume rises dramatically during pregnancy, which leads to extra fluid being processed and ending up in your bladder. The problem is compounded as your growing baby exerts more pressure on your bladder.
Feeling tired all of a sudden? No, make that exhausted. No one knows for sure what causes early pregnancy fatigue, but it's possible that rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone are contributing to your sleepiness. Of course, morning sickness and having to urinate frequently during the night can add to your sluggishness, too.
You should start to feel more energetic once you hit your second trimester, although fatigue usually returns late in pregnancy when you're carrying around a lot more weight and some of the common discomforts of pregnancy make it more difficult to get a good night's sleep.
5. Tender, swollen breasts
One of the early signs of pregnancy is sensitive, sore breasts caused by rising levels of hormones. The soreness and swelling may feel like an exaggerated version of how your breasts feel before your period. Your discomfort should diminish significantly after the first trimester, as your body adjusts to the hormonal changes.
For some women, morning sickness doesn't hit until about a month after conception, though for others it may start a week or two earlier. And not just in the morning, either: Pregnancy-related nausea (with or without vomiting) can be a problem morning, noon, or night.
About half of pregnant women with nausea feel complete relief by the beginning of the second trimester. For most others it takes another month or so for the queasiness to ease up. A lucky few escape it altogether.
3. A missed period
If you're usually pretty regular and your period doesn't arrive on time, you may decide to do a pregnancy test before you notice any of the above symptoms. But if you're not regular or you're not keeping track of your cycle, nausea and breast tenderness and extra trips to the bathroom may signal pregnancy before you realize you didn't get your period.
2. Your basal body temperature stays high
If you've been charting your basal body temperature and you see that your temperature has stayed elevated for 18 days in a row, you're probably pregnant.
And finally ...
1. The proof: A positive home pregnancy test
In spite of what you might read on the box, many home pregnancy tests are not sensitive enough to reliably detect pregnancy until about a week after a missed period. So if you decide to take a test earlier than that and get a negative result, try again in a few days. Remember that a baby starts to develop before you can tell you're pregnant, so take care of your health while you're waiting to find out.
Once you've gotten a positive result, make an appointment with your practitioner. Congratulations, you'll be a mum soon!