Some early pregnancy symptoms may show up around the time you’ve missed a period – or a week or two later. In fact, 7 out of 10 women have early pregnancy symptoms by the time they’re 6 weeks along.
If you’re not keeping track of your menstrual cycle or if it varies widely from one month to the next, you may not be sure when to expect your period. But if you start to feel some of the early pregnancy symptoms below –(not all women get them) and you’re wondering why you haven’t gotten your period, you may very well be pregnant.
If you’re newly pregnant, it’s not uncommon to feel repelled by the smell of a bologna sandwich or a cup of coffee, and for certain aromas to trigger your gag reflex. Though no one knows for sure, this may be a side effect of rapidly increasing amounts of estrogen in your system. You may also find that certain foods you used to enjoy are suddenly completely repulsive to you.
It’s common to have mood swings during pregnancy, partly because of hormonal changes that affect neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). Everyone responds differently to these changes. Some moms-to-be experience heightened emotions, both good and bad; others feel more depressed or anxious.
Note: If you’ve been feeling sad or hopeless or unable to cope with your daily responsibilities, or you’re having thoughts of harming yourself, call your healthcare provider or a mental health professional right away.
Hormonal changes in early pregnancy may leave you feeling bloated, similar to the feeling some women have just before their period. That’s why your clothes may feel more snug than usual at the waistline, even early on when your uterus is still quite small.
Frequent urination might be the most infamous symptom of pregnancy. Learn why you have to go more often, and how to reduce your number of bathroom trips.
Shortly after you become pregnant, hormonal changes prompt a chain of events that raise the rate of blood flow through your kidneys. This causes your bladder to fill more quickly, so you need to pee more often. This symptom may start as early as six weeks into your first trimester.
Frequent urination will continue – or intensify – as your pregnancy progresses. Your blood volume rises dramatically during pregnancy, which leads to extra fluid being processed and ending up in your bladder. The problem is compounded as your growing baby exerts more pressure on your bladder.
Feeling tired all of a sudden? No, make that exhausted. No one knows for sure what causes early pregnancy fatigue, but it’s possible that rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone are contributing to your sleepiness. Of course, morning sickness and having to urinate frequently during the night can add to your sluggishness, too.
You should start to feel more energetic once you hit your second trimester, although fatigue usually returns late in pregnancy when you’re carrying around a lot more weight and some of the common discomforts of pregnancy make it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
One common pregnancy symptom is sensitive, swollen breasts caused by rising levels of hormones. The soreness and swelling may feel like an exaggerated version of how your breasts feel before your period. Your discomfort should diminish significantly after the first trimester, as your body adjusts to the hormonal changes.
Light bleeding or spotting
It seems counterintuitive: If you’re trying to get pregnant, the last thing you want to see is any spotting or vaginal bleeding. But if you notice just light spotting around the time your period is due, it could be implantation bleeding. No one knows for sure why it happens, but it might be caused by the fertilized egg settling into the lining of your uterus.
Note: About 1 in 4 women experience spotting or light bleeding during the first trimester. It’s often nothing, but sometimes it’s a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. If your bleeding is severe or accompanied by pain or lightheadedness, or if you’re at all concerned, call your doctor or midwife.
For some women, morning sickness doesn’t hit until about a month or two after conception, though for others it may start as early as two weeks. And not just in the morning, either: Pregnancy-related nausea (with or without vomiting) can be a problem morning, noon, or night.
Most pregnant women with nausea feel complete relief by the beginning of the second trimester. For most others it takes another month or so for the queasiness to ease up. A lucky few escape it altogether.
A missed period
If you’re usually pretty regular and your period doesn’t arrive on time, you may decide to do a pregnancy test before you notice any of the above symptoms. But if you’re not regular or you’re not keeping track of your cycle, nausea and breast tenderness and extra trips to the bathroom may signal pregnancy before you realize you didn’t get your period.
High basal body temperature
If you’ve been charting your basal body temperature and you see that your temperature has stayed elevated for 18 days in a row, you’re probably pregnant.
And finally …
The proof: A positive home pregnancy test
In spite of what you might read on the box, many home pregnancy tests are not sensitive enough to reliably detect pregnancy until about a week after a missed period. So if you decide to take a test earlier than that and get a negative result, try again in a few days. Remember that a baby starts to develop before you can tell you’re pregnant, so take care of your health while you’re waiting to find out, and watch for more early pregnancy symptoms.