Are you pregnant? One way to tell is to look for the first signs of pregnancy, some of which can show up just a few short weeks after conception.
Before you even pass that pregnancy test and know for sure that you’ve got a baby on board, you may get a heads-up in the form of a few early signs of pregnancy. But because many of them will be similar to the ones you have right before you get your period, it may be hard to tell the difference.
While pregnancy tests can offer a definitive answer, here are few tell-tale early signs of pregnancy that may tip you off that that you’re expecting:
It might be stating the obvious, but if you’ve missed a period (especially if your periods usually run like clockwork) you’re probably suspecting pregnancy, and for good reason. A missed period is one early pregnancy symptom all expectant moms experience.
Imagine climbing a mountain without training while carrying a backpack that weighs a little more every day. That’s pregnancy in a nutshell. In other words, it’s hard work, which is why pregnancy fatigue is a symptom almost every mom-to-be experiences.
During early pregnancy, a huge amount of energy goes into building a placenta, the life-support system for your baby. All that can zap you of your usual get-up-and-go and cause fatigue during early pregnancy.
A heightened sense of smell might make previously mild odors strong and unappealing. Since it’s one of the first changes some newly pregnant women report, pregnancy might be in the air if your sniffer’s suddenly more sensitive and easily offended.
Morning Sickness or Nausea
That telltale, queasy feeling in your stomach known as morning sickness can hit you at any time of day — and it can begin just a few short weeks into your pregnancy. Hormones, — mainly increased levels of progesterone, which cause the stomach to empty more slowly — are, again, largely to blame (though estrogen and hCG can also take some credit for your nausea).
Nausea and vomiting can strike a newly pregnant woman soon after conception, but they’re more likely to begin around week 6.
Your extra-sensitive nose may be responsible for another early sign of pregnancy: food aversions, where the thought, sight or smell of certain foods you normally like can turn your stomach (or worse, contribute to your morning sickness). This symptom can be triggered by anything from chicken (a common one) to something seemingly more benign, like salad.
Though this isn’t one of the very first signs of pregnancy, it does tend to pop up in the first trimester. Blame those pregnancy hormones again, especially early on when your body is flooded with them and still getting used to all the hormonal changes. Don’t worry: This one often passes by the second trimester, when things have settled down in there.
Yet again, blame those pregnancy-related hormonal changes for the mood swings you may be experiencing once you’re expecting. As early as 4 weeks into your pregnancy, you may feel a PMS-style moodiness; later in the first trimester and often throughout the rest of pregnancy, you could be up one minute and anxious or down the next.
Aside from pregnancy hormones running amok, your life is about to change in a big way, so it’s completely normal for your moods to go haywire. Do what you can to give yourself a break, eat well, get enough sleep and pamper yourself. Deep breaths! It’s all going to be okay.
Tender, Swollen Breasts
That tingly, sore or full feeling in your breasts that screams “look…but don’t touch” is another of the first signs of pregnancy. The hormones oestrogen and progesterone deserve most of the credit (or the blame) for breast changes and breast tenderness. It’s pain with a gain, though, since they’re preparing your body for the milk-making to come.
Darkening and Bumpy Areolas
Your areolas (the circles around your nipples) may get darker and increase in diameter, thanks to the pregnancy hormones surging through your body.
Not only that, but you’ll likely start to notice tiny bumps growing in size and number on your areolas. These bumps, called Montgomery’s tubercles, were always there, but now they’re gearing up to produce more oils that lubricate your nipples once baby starts suckling.
Two to three weeks after conception you may notice an increased need to pee. This new gotta-go feeling usually crops up two to three weeks after conception and is due to the pregnancy hormone hCG, which increases blood flow to your kidneys, helping them to more efficiently rid your body (and, eventually, your baby’s body) of waste.
Your growing uterus is also beginning to put some pressure on your bladder, leaving less storage space for urine and making you head for the toilet more frequently.
Having trouble buttoning your jeans? Early pregnancy bloating is hard to distinguish from pre-period bloat, but it’s something many women feel soon after they conceive. You can’t blame that puffy, ate-too-much feeling on your baby yet, but you can blame it on the hormone progesterone, which helps slow down digestion, giving the nutrients from foods you eat more time to enter your bloodstream and reach your baby.
Unfortunately, bloating is often accompanied by constipation. Getting the right amount of fiber in your diet can help keep you regular.
Raised Basal Body Temperature
If you’ve been using a special basal body thermometer to track your first morning temperature, you might notice that it rises around 1 degree when you conceive and stays elevated throughout your pregnancy. Though not a foolproof sign (there are other reasons your temp can rise), it could give you advance notice of the big news.
For up to 30 percent of new moms, light spotting or implantation bleeding before you’d expect your period (around six to 12 days after conception) is sometimes a sign that an embryo has implanted itself into the uterine wall, which may or may not be accompanied by menstrual-like cramps.
How soon can you get pregnancy symptoms?
Very early symptoms of pregnancy (like sensitivity to smell and tender breasts) may show up before you miss your period, as soon as a few days after conception, while other early signs of pregnancy (like spotting) might appear around one week after sperm meets egg. Still others (like urinary frequency) often appear about two weeks or so following conception.
That said, early signs of pregnancy crop up at different times in different women. Some experience very few (if any) of these until weeks into their pregnancies.
Though many women never feel any early pregnancy symptoms, others suffer from them all. If you’ve missed your period and are experiencing fatigue, morning sickness, spotting and tender breasts, you may just want to grab yourself a home pregnancy test — and then drop by the doctor’s for a blood test to confirm it.
No matter what symptoms you’re having, the only way to know for sure that you’re pregnant is to make an appointment with your doctor.
Be sure to schedule the visit as early as you can so you can get the best care possible right from the start if it does turn out that you’re experiencing early signs of pregnancy. And if you are expecting a baby, congratulations! You’re embarking on the journey of a lifetime.