Have you missed a period or are you feeling a little different and wondering whether you might be expecting? Here are some of the most common early signs of pregnancy.
AM I PREGNANT?
You’ve been trying to conceive for the past several months … or you just had your first contraceptive-free night with your partner. Now your period is a couple of weeks late. You’re probably wondering: Am I pregnant?
The good news is, of course, that there’s an easy test that offers a definitive answer. But in the meantime, a few telltale early signs of pregnancy may signal that there’s something in the offing. Though many women never feel any symptoms early in pregnancy, others suffer from them all. But if you’ve missed your period and are experiencing things like fatigue, nausea, tender breasts and spotting, 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.
EARLY PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS
The most common early signs and symptoms of pregnancy might include:
Tender, swollen breasts
Darker, bumpy areolas
Bleeding or missed period
Nausea and vomiting
Before you even pass that home pregnancy test and know for sure that you’ve got a baby on board, you may get a heads-up in the form of early pregnancy symptoms. Many will be similar to the funny feeling you get right before your period, so it may be hard to tell the difference. Still, if you’ve been trying to conceive and you’ve got some (or all) of these symptoms, it may be time to pull out a home pregnancy test.
HOW SOON CAN YOU GET PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS?
The earliest pregnancy symptoms (like sensitivity to smell and tender breasts) may show up as soon as a few days after conception, while others (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, signs of pregnancy crop up at different times in different women; some experience very few if any of these until weeks into their pregnancies.
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.
TENDER, SWOLLEN BREASTS
That tingly, sore and/or full feeling in your breasts that screams “look…but don’t touch” is another of the first signs of pregnancy. The hormones estrogen and progesterone deserve most of the credit (or the blame) for breast and nipple tenderness. It’s pain with a gain, though, since they’re preparing your body for the milk-making to come.
DARKENING & 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 and areolas once baby starts suckling.
Imagine running a daily marathon or 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! 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.
BLEEDING…OR A MISSED PERIOD
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. On the flip side, 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.
That telltale queasy feeling in your stomach known as morning sickness can hit you at any time of day beginning 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 can strike a newly pregnant woman soon after conception, but it’s more likely to begin around week 6.
Two to three weeks after conception you may notice an increased need to pass urine. 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.
If you’ve been using a 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.
No matter what symptoms have cropped up for you, the only way to know for sure that you’re pregnant is to make an appointment with your OB/GYN. Be sure to schedule the visit as early as you can so you can get the best care possible right from the start. And if it does turn out you’re expecting a baby, congratulations! You’re embarking on the journey of a lifetime.