How to Know If You're Pregnant: 13 Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Wondering if you might be pregnant? Here are simple signs.

early pregnancy symptoms

Pregnancy symptoms show up as early as a few days after conception. However, many women cannot immediately notice whether or not they are pregnant.

Early pregnancy symptoms occur at different times in different pregnant women.

Some may experience a few of these signs for a short time, while other women experience almost all and have it several weeks or months more into their pregnancies.

Although a pregnancy test and a confirmation from your doctor can give you the definitive answers, here are 13 early pregnancy symptoms you will experience if you are expecting a baby.

1. Missed period

Missed periods are the most common signs that could indicate that you are pregnant.

If it has passed a week or more from the expected date of your menstrual cycle, you can expect that you might be pregnant.

However, this sign can be misleading, especially if your menstrual cycle is irregular. 

2. Nausea/morning sickness

As pregnancy hormones work overtime, a queasy feeling called morning sickness resembling seasickness can hit you randomly.

Most pregnant women experience feeling nauseous a month after they become pregnant. For some, they are fortunate enough to have not experienced this symptom at all. 

However, the cause of nausea during pregnancy is still unclear.

But the rising production of your human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) and progesterone hormones play a role in it too.

As your progesterone levels increase, it slows down stomach emptying and results in this pregnancy symptom. 

3. Tender and swollen breast

Hormonal changes naturally occur in the early stage of pregnancy as your body prepares to accommodate the growing embryo.

Your breasts may become more sensitive and sore, and your areolas increase in diameter, and they become darker and bumpy in the early weeks.

That is, your hormones estrogen and progesterone work as they prepare your body to produce milk soon.

The bumps found in your areolas are called Montgomery’s tubercles. They are there to produce oils to lubricate your nipples once your baby starts nursing.

The uncomfortable soreness and sensitivity in your breast will eventually decrease a few weeks later as your body adjusts to hormonal changes.

4. Fatigue

Fatigue or a drain of strength and energy is a common early symptom of pregnancy.

This is because your hormone progesterone soars high to the point it makes you feel tired and sleepy. 

You might even wonder what makes you tired, especially when you only do less strenuous activities that do not require much energy.

When pregnant, a lot of your energy goes into forming the life-support system for your baby called the placenta.

5. Food aversions/loss of appetite

Strangely, your nose becomes extra-sensitive, creating an aversion to certain foods that you would typically enjoy.

It could either be the appearance or smell of the foods. And, previously, mild odors become strong and unappealing for your liking. 

Food aversion toward foods like meats, poultry, and oregano-flavored sauces are common among pregnant women.

Blame your pregnancy hormones again on this. This is only temporary, though. You will overcome this symptom when you reach the second trimester.

6. Frequent urination

Your blood volume increases with your growing pregnant body, causing your kidneys to process more fluid gathered in your bladder.

And your growing uterus also adds pressure on your bladder, leaving less urine storage space. 

Hence, that explains why you have been urinating more often than usual.

That’s the work of pregnancy hormones called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). It increases your blood flow to the kidneys to help eliminate your and your baby’s body waste. 

7. Bloating

Somehow, you might think it is just pre-period bloat, but it can also be an early pregnancy symptom after conception.

Blame your progesterones for slowing down food digestion to provide more time for nutrients to enter your bloodstream and nourish your baby. 

Bloating often comes with constipation. So, make sure to eat enough fiber-rich foods

8. Spotting

Between the first and fourth weeks, the fertilized egg creates a fluid-filled group of cells called the blastocyst.

A few weeks after conception, the blastocyst implants itself in the lining of the uterus. This process can cause implantation bleeding, and this is often mistaken for a light period with mild to severe pain.

Usually, it is called spotting, and it can last up to three days. The color of the blood comes in an episode of pink, red, or brown. 

9. Back pain

Having pain in the back can also make you feel tired. Back pain is also an early sign of pregnancy.

Sometimes, it can also be accompanied by cramps like those you would experience when you have your period.

This is just one of the signs that your body is getting ready for your growing baby.

10. Headache

With your raging pregnancy hormones, you may experience headaches from time to time during early pregnancy.

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The headache comes with fatigue or tiredness, eyestrain, stress, and noise sensitivity.

However, as you reach the second or third trimester, it is expected that the occurrence of headaches will eventually fade as your reproductive hormones are getting under control.

11. Leg cramps

In the early stage, leg cramps are quite common to happen to pregnant women.

Having a leg cramp is associated with low calcium levels in the blood as this is being taken by the growing baby.

12. Mood fluctuations

You must have heard how some pregnant women tend to have a 180 degrees turn when it comes to their moods.

Yes, that’s the wonders of mood swings caused by your pregnancy hormones again. 

However, your emotional state during pregnancy will depend on different factors, such as your mental health, health status, social relationships, and economic status.

In your first month, you may feel like you are having PMS-like moodiness. Sometimes, it can also be carried through the rest of the pregnancy.

You could be high and happy in one minute, then sad or anxious, and it fluctuates back. Your moods could go haywire, but that’s completely normal.

That shows that you are entering a significant chapter of your life.

Do your best to give yourself a break you deserve and deep breaths. Eat healthily, get enough sleep, and just pamper yourself. You got this!

13. Food cravings

It is common for pregnant women to have random food cravings. For many pregnant women, sweets, ice cream, chocolates, candies, fruits, and fish are foods that they commonly crave. 

Your body will crave what it needs. Sometimes, you might want some unusual food combinations such as fish and ice cream.

That could also indicate your body needs to supply more proteins and sugars.

Whatever symptoms you are experiencing, it is best to set an appointment with an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) to confirm your pregnancy. After that, you can get the best and early care.

Takeaway

The signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary from woman to woman, and it appears at different times.

These early pregnancy signs are akin to period symptoms, making it hard to tell the difference. One may only experience a few of the above mentioned symptoms, while some have more. 

The only way for you to find out if you are expecting a baby is to see your doctor and get appropriate pregnancy tests.

Then if you have a baby on board, congratulations! You’re embarking on the journey of a lifetime. Say hello to motherhood! 

(Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian)

Dorothy is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian and a candidate for a master's degree in Public Health (MPH) major in Public Health Nutrition. She has a passion for teaching to her university students about food, nutrition, and health. Dorothy is a coffee lover and she enjoys traveling, writing, cycling, running, cooking, baking, and cooking.