The thought of pregnancy can be scary and exciting at the same time; however, not really knowing if you're pregnant can be the most unsettling feeling, which is why many people like to check for early signs. Early symptoms sometimes appear in the first few weeks following conception, which can give someone enough cause to take a pregnancy test.
How to spot pregnancy before taking a test
While symptoms vary in frequency, intensity, and duration by individual, the following 15 symptoms are some tell-tale signs of pregnancy...
1. Morning Sickness and Nausea
Nausea (with or without vomiting) is common in the first few weeks of pregnancy. For many, it may even be the very first sign of pregnancy. After all, some women say they are nauseous just a week following conception. Many know this nausea associated with pregnancy as morning sickness.
Does morning sickness only happen in the morning?
Now, the term "morning sickness" is a little misleading, as this type of nausea can happen at any timeâ€”not just in the morning. In fact, some women are sick all day and night for months when they're pregnant!
Why does pregnancy cause nausea?
It's all due to the rising levels of the hormone estrogen.
What is morning sickness like?
Everyone's experiences with morning sickness will be different. For some, the nausea may feel light, as if one has motion sickness. It might also be severe, causing one to throw up frequently. When this happens, it's important to stay hydrated and eat no matter what; after all, your body needs the extra nutrients and water.
What are some ways to deal with morning sickness?
Many women say eating carbohydrates like bread and other starchy foods help their stomach. Ginger is a natural relief for a stomachache as well. For those who want to do even more, a motion-sickness band may help.
2. Spotting and Cramping
Many early pregnancy symptoms mimic premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. That means it's common to get light spotting and even cramping at the beginning of pregnancy.
How does pregnancy cause spotting and cramping?
The spotting results from implantation bleeding, or when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus; this usually happens about 6 to 12 days after the egg is actually fertilized.
So, what does implantation bleeding and cramping feel and look like?
Many people mistake these cramps for menstrual cramps, as they often feel a pulling in the uterus area. As for the flow itself, it is often not heavy and may even be accompanied by a white, thick discharge. This discharge is produced as the vagina's walls start to thicken with progressing pregnancy. The discharge may not be out of place for some people, as many mistake it for normal vaginal discharge.
How long can someone expect to see discharge?
This discharge usually continues throughout the pregnancy.
Fatigue is something most women fight throughout their entire pregnancy.
Why does pregnancy cause fatigue?
It's all thanks to the hormone progesterone, which works overtime during pregnancy. In large doses, this hormone induces drowsiness, often making women feel tired all day.
All in all, the body works in overdrive to make the baby, which leads to lots of tiredness. That's why it is so important to let your body rest as much as possible, so your body can continue to work hard.
4. Swollen and Tender Breasts
Another tell-tale sign of pregnancy? Breast changes.
For instance, one day you may realize your breasts are suddenly very tender to the touch and/or swollen. You may not even fit into your bras anymore!
Why do breast changes occur?
This phenomenon is due to the fact that hormone levels are going wild after conception. Breast tissue reacts by often becoming sore, tingling, or swelling, sometimes just two weeks after conception. While the changes may feel strange, there's no reason for alarm; it's just your body reacting to fluctuating hormones.
What do these breast changes feel like?
Breasts may feel fuller and heavier, and areolas may darken, too. Additionally, as pregnancy continues, the breasts can swell with milk, leading to them becoming larger. As this happens, you may also notice some leaking.
What are some ways to deal with breast changes?
During pregnancy, it's common to need new bras, and many women enjoy wearing comfortable sports bras. If your breasts ache, a warm bath may help ease the discomfort.
5. A Missed Period
One of the most obvious signs of pregnancy is a missed period. After all, most people have no idea they're with child until they miss a period.
Pregnancy or something else?
To be clear, a missed period can mean other causes besides pregnancy. Stress and sickness, as well as changes in diet and hormones, can often lead to changes in menstrual cycles.
It's easy to confuse early pregnancy spotting with a lighter period. However, pregnancy spotting is often much lighter, shorter, and erratic than most people's regular periods. So, if you think your period is missing or irregular, it may be time to take action.
6. Changes in Appetite
Change in appetite and cravings are one of the most well-known pregnancy symptoms. Sometimes you want to eat everything in sight. Sometimes you only want to eat specific foods, like pickles and ice cream. Other times you may hate just about every food around you. All of these reactions are completely normal.
Why does pregnancy change appetite?
You see, when you're pregnant, your body reacts in different ways to food. Since you're literally eating for two, it's natural to notice a bump in appetite, as your body is trying to tell you to take in more nutrients to nourish not just yourself, but also your baby.
What about food aversion?
Food aversion is also common. Why? It all has to do with your sense of smell, which is closely tied to your ability to taste. Since hormonal changes can lead to an altered sense of smell, some foods may naturally seem less appealing to you at various points in your pregnancy.
Headaches are common during menstruation, thanks to fluctuating hormones.
Where will the aching be?
Unfortunately, these headaches can worsen in intensity and frequency during pregnancy. In fact, the entire body may actually ache as well.
Why does pregnancy cause aching?
Once again, it's all thanks to changing hormone levels.
How long do these aches last?
Fortunately, these pains tend to go away after a little while, once the body has adjusted to these changes. Those that suffer from migraines, though, need to consult with their doctor if these headaches worsen.
8. Changes in Bowel Movements and Urination
Constipation and increased urination are common early pregnancy symptoms.
Why does pregnancy cause constipation?
It all has to do with hormone changes. Specifically, the hormone progesterone causes the food in your system to move slowly through the intestines, which often leads to constipation. Since progesterone levels rise during pregnancy, it's not uncommon for constipation to occur.
Why does pregnancy cause frequent urination?
On the other end of the spectrum, many women experience increased urination when they're pregnant. As the pregnancy progresses, this symptom can get worse and worse. Unlike other symptoms, increased urination isn't necessarily caused solely by hormones; it's simply the fact that the womb presses on the bladder, leading to increased urges to urinate.
These symptoms are perfectly normal.
Neither of these symptoms are cause for alarm. While frequent urination often lasts the whole pregnancy, it's common for the bowels to return to normal after a while.
Are there any ways to deal with these symptoms?
When constipation hits, make sure to eat a high amount of fiber and protein to help push food through your system. You can also drink prune juice if needed. Frequent urination is not something that you can usually get around, so always be prepared with a bathroom nearby.
9. Mood Swings
A tell-tale sign of pregnancy? One minute you may be happy, the next minute you may be crying.
Why does pregnancy cause mood swings?
Hormones fluctuate throughout pregnancy. The result? Mood swings.
When are mood swings common?
This change is quite common, especially during the first three months (first trimester).
What are some ways to deal with mood swings?
It's important to have ways to calm yourself down during mood swings. A light workout, meditating, or talking to a friend may help you relax.
10. Changes in Blood Pressure
Blood pressure can change drastically during pregnancy, which causes many people to feel faint or dizzy. However, for others, too much change in blood pressure can lead to some serious health concerns for both mother and child.
Why does pregnancy cause low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure is quite common during this time. Blood vessels in the body begin to dilate, making your blood pressure drop; this drop often causes women to feel lightheaded. Sometimes it even makes them throw up.
How can someone deal with low blood pressure?
Fortunately, there are a few ways to minimize the effects of low blood pressure. Firstly, you can sit or lay down if you feel faint. Secondly, you can sleep or lay down your left side, which increases blood flow to the heart.
What are the dangers of high blood pressure during pregnancy?
However, blood pressure may also heighten during this time. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, in the first five months of pregnancy should be watched closely by a physician.
Because hypertension can lead to preeclampsia after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This condition is associated with signs of damage to other organs in the system. If untreated, high blood pressure can even be fatal to both the mother and baby.
11. Nasal Congestion
Although a little cold doesn't mean you're pregnant, nasal congestion is a common pregnancy symptom.
How does pregnancy cause congestion?
Mucous membranes in the nose swell with pregnancy. This swelling results in increased mucus, which may lead to congestion. Even just the swelling of blood vessels in the nose alone can lead to nasal congestion. If you have a cold or allergies, the congestion may worsen.
12. Raised Body Temperature
A slight rise in basal body temperature is just one of the many physical changes a pregnant body undergoes.
What does this symptom feel like?
It's common to feel a little hotter or even notice unusual night sweats.
How long will the fever last?
While basal body temperature usually peaks early in the pregnancy, it will still remain slightly higher than normal throughout the pregnancy. After all, the body will naturally be a little warmer from all the overtime work it's doing.
Feeling faint or dizzy? You might not be imagining it. In fact, these symptoms could mean that you're pregnant.
How does pregnancy cause faintness?
Once again, it's all due to hormones. Specifically, the hormones associated with pregnancy can cause your heart rate to increase as well as your blood supply. These changes can mean you feel faintâ€”in fact, some people really do faint during pregnancy.
How does pregnancy cause dizziness?
Even more, these hormones can cause your blood vessels to alternatively relax and widen. The result? A dizzy sensation. Later in the pregnancy, dizziness might be due to the womb's increasing pressure on blood vessels.
14. Lower back pain
Most know that back pain can occur later in later trimesters. In fact, by some estimates, nearly two-thirds of pregnant folk will experience lower back pain! What many people don't know, though, is that lower back pain or aching can occur early on in pregnancy, too.
How does pregnancy cause back pain?
There are a few ways early pregnancy can cause your back to ache.
- Production of relaxin. A pregnant body releases the protein hormone relaxin. Why? Because this hormone can allow the pelvic area to relax and loosen, all of which can help when it comes time for delivery. However, relaxin production affects the whole body, not just the pelvic area. In many cases, this hormone can also loosen the spine. The result? Weakness and instability that can cause pain and discomfort.
- Stress. Pregnancy, as we've already discussed, can lead to a bump in stress. And stress can lead to physical symptoms, such as aches and pains. This fact is true even if you aren't pregnant.
15. Darkened Nipples and Areolas
Pregnancy might not just cause the breasts to become sore or swell; they can also cause your areolas (darker area around the nipple) to darken.
How does pregnancy darken areolas?
The truth is that it isn't 100% known why pregnancy causes this symptom. However, the most widely accepted theory is that hormones are to blame. Specifically, some people believe that pregnancy increases melanin production.
Now, melanin is a naturally occurring pigment. Having more melanin means darker skin and hair. So, naturally, a boost in melanin during this time could easily darken the nipples and surrounding skin.
Find Out The Truth
It can be difficult to know you are really pregnant just following symptoms alone. After all, you can be pregnant without showing any noticeable symptoms. If you miss a period or notice common pregnancy symptoms, though, it's best to take a test to find out the truth.
Don't leave it to chance.
Knowing for sure if you are pregnant as soon as possible is important so you can begin prenatal care right away; doing so can mean an easier time for both you and baby.