Early signs of pregnancy vary from woman to woman and even pregnancy to pregnancy. If you’re particularly tuned in to your body’s rhythms, you may begin to suspect you’re pregnant soon after conception.
Are You Pregnant?
Most women won’t experience any early signs of pregnancy until the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, on average six to twelve days after ovulation. Other women may notice no signs of pregnancy until a delayed or missed menstrual cycle, one of the most pronounced and significant symptoms of pregnancy.
Whether you’re trying to get pregnant, or trying not to, it’s important to understand indicators of pregnancy because each symptom may be related to something other than pregnancy.
Below is a list of some of the most common first signs of pregnancy – some of which may occur before a home pregnancy test can be used – letting you know that you may be on your way to becoming a mother. You may experience all, some, or none of these signs that you could be prego:
Admittedly it’s a cliché, but food cravings sometimes can be early signs of pregnancy. Don’t rely on a hankering for pickles and ice cream as a sure symptom of pregnancy – it may be all in your head, or even a sign that your body is deficient in certain nutrients – however, if cravings are accompanied by some of the other symptoms on this list, it could mean that you might be eating for two.
What else it could mean: Poor diet, nutritional deficiency, stress, depression, or impending menstruation.
Darkening of Your Areolas
If the skin around your nipples darkens, you may be pregnant, though this may also mark a hormonal imbalance unrelated to pregnancy or be a leftover effect from a previous pregnancy.
What else it could mean: Hormonal imbalance unrelated to pregnancy or may be a leftover effect from a previous pregnancy.
Light Bleeding or Cramping
Implantation bleeding can be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy when, about six to twelve days after conception, the embryo burrows into the uterine wall. As a result of this, some women will experience implantation spotting – a slight staining of a pink or brown color – as well as some cramping.
You might mistake implantation bleeding for a very light period, as spotting can occur around the time you expect your period.
What else it could mean: Actual menstruation, altered menstruation, changes in birth control pill, infection, or abrasion from intercourse.
Once the embryo implants and begins producing the pregnancy-sustaining hormone secreted by the embryo soon after conception (usually around six to eight weeks after conception) you may find yourself running to the bathroom more often.
What else it could mean: Urinary tract infection, diabetes, increasing liquid intake, or taking excessive diuretics.
Feeling drowsy? No, make that absolutely wiped. High levels of the hormone progesterone experienced during pregnancy can make you feel as if you’ve run a marathon when all you’ve done is put in a normal day’s work. This hallmark of early pregnancy can appear as soon as the first week after conception (before a positive pregnancy test can be performed), but don’t necessarily assume you’re pregnant just because you’re feeling exhausted.
What else it could mean: Stress, exhaustion, depression, common cold or flu, or other illnesses can also leave you feeling drained.
Tender, Swollen Breasts
If you’re pregnant, your breasts will probably become fuller and increasingly tender to the touch, similar to the way they may feel before your period, but more pronounced. These changes may begin as early as one to two weeks after conception.
What else it could mean: Hormonal imbalance, birth control pills, impending menstruation (PMS) can also cause your breasts to swell and become more sensitive.
As early as a couple of days following conception, you may begin feeling nauseated and queasy; it will often show up between two to eight weeks after conception. Despite the common name of this well-known sign of pregnancy (morning sickness) it doesn’t only kick in during the morning hours: pregnancy-related nausea can be present any time of day or night.
If you’re lucky, morning sickness won’t hit you until a few weeks after conception, and some women are lucky enough to escape it altogether.
What else it could mean: Food poisoning, stress, or other stomach disorders can also cause you to feel queasy.
Backaches and Headaches
Lower backaches and headaches may appear as early signs of pregnancy as a result of the sudden rise of hormones.
What else it could mean: Impending menstruation, stress, back problems, and physical or mental strains, dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, eye strain.
A Missed or Different Period
When you become pregnant, your next period should be missed, and a missing period is often one of the first signs of pregnancy experienced by women. Many women experience bleeding while they are pregnant, but usually the bleeding will be shorter or lighter than a normal period. If you have been sexually active, are late and usually experience clockwork visits from Aunt Flo, it’s worth trying a pregnancy test.
What else it could mean: Excessive weight gain/loss, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, tension, stress, stopping birth control pill, or breast-feeding.
A Positive Pregnancy Test
A positive pregnancy test is the most definitive sign that you’re in the family way. Home (urine) pregnancy tests are available at most drug stores; there are early home pregnancy tests such as E.P.T Digital Early Pregnancy Tests, which can give results as early as five days before a missed period, as well as traditional home pregnancy tests which recommend waiting to test until at least the first date of a missed period to ensure that adequate amounts of pregnancy hormone.