Early Pregnancy Symptoms
Do you have questions about early pregnancy symptoms? By popular request, here is our checklist. One web page that explains the most common signs that you may experience.
Remember… when in doubt be sure to do a home pregnancy test. To be absolutely sure, have a blood test done at your doctor’s office.
Be sure to save this page to your favorites so you can go online at any time and check the list. And feel free to email your friends and tell them about this page too.
The Early Signs
The following are common early signs you might be expecting a baby. However, symptoms are not the same for every woman. In fact, your own symptoms may actually be different from one pregnancy to another.
Symptoms can also vary in their intensity, frequency and duration. The following checklist is only a guideline.
Also keep in mind that many of the earliest symptoms can appear similar to routine pre-menstrual discomforts.
If you are not trying to conceive, you might think it is just your period coming on again, when in reality you may be on your way to having a baby.
You will experience a wide variety of physical and emotional changes during pregnancy. They may include any or all of these listed below.
Although each of these are considered typical, they may happen earlier or later than the order in which they appear on the following list.
Remember, some of the earliest indications may be subtle, not obvious. Whenever there is any question, do a home pregnancy test.
Here is each symptom explained in more detail. Find the one you may be experiencing and read more about the possible effects. This can help determine if something is a sign or is simply one of the routine physical aches and pains that we can all have from time to time in our daily lives.
Perhaps the most obvious symptom is when you’ve missed your period. When this happens it is often what causes women to think that they might be expecting.
Some women might only experience a much lighter period compared to their usual. You might not experience any of the signs listed below until around the time you notice you’ve missed your monthly cycle.
Just “Feeling” Pregnant
This may be the reason why you are checking this list right now. Many women believe they have an intuition about pregnancy. Their intuition is often proven correct.
Maybe you just feel different; tired, moody, queasy, lightheaded. You may also have heartburn, constipation, or find yourself making more frequent trips to the restroom. Perhaps you feel a dull ache or stiffness in your lower back, you have sore breasts or they seem overly sensitive, or you are simply not feeling like your usual self.
One of the very noticeable early signs is tender, swollen, somewhat sore breasts. You may notice this at bedtime when you are trying to get comfortable and go to sleep, when exercising or showering, or when getting dressed.
When you become pregnant, your body begins preparing your breasts for producing milk and breastfeeding. Hormones start increasing. In addition to breast tenderness and swelling, your nipples may feel sore or extra sensitive. Some women notice their nipples darken in color.
Your breasts play an important role in childbirth. They are naturally sensitive and become far more so when pregnant. This is one of the most obvious symptoms.
Some women may experience fatigue and exhaustion. You may start going to bed sooner, or find it harder than usual to get out of bed in the morning. If you are working, by noon you may feel like you need to lie down. Exercising seems like too much effort. A simple activity like shopping may leave you feeling wiped out and lightheaded. This feeling is caused by all of the changes that your body is going through, plus the increasing levels of hormones.
If you know you are pregnant, try to take frequent rests or naps of 15 minutes to a half-hour whenever possible. Explain to your family, friends and coworkers that you need these naps. Ask for their help in blocking out rest times for you.
Something that others may notice you experiencing is frequent trips to the restroom. Your family or friends may comment that you seem to be going off to the ladies room quite often lately. One cause of this is that the swelling uterus can put pressure on your bladder.
Also, pregnancy causes extra body fluids to be processed by your kidneys and bladder. That means more trips to the restroom. Sorry to have to say this, but this may remain constant for nine months.
Sometimes queasiness, nausea and vomiting can take you by surprise when you least expect it. These may come as soon as a week into the first trimester. Many women experience nausea in the morning when they have coffee and/or eat something on an empty stomach. This is known as morning sickness (see below). Other women notice nausea in the afternoon or evening. Others feel queasy all day.
This upset tummy feeling may often be helped by eating smaller, more frequent snack size meals. Many women say saltine crackers and milk seem to be helpful. This feeling seems to show up about a month after pregnancy has begun. It tends to level off once you are into your second trimester and your body adjusts to all the many changes it is going through.
Dizziness and/or Fainting
One of the more surprising signs is dizziness and/or fainting. Going up stairs, standing up suddenly after sitting for a time, or just having to stand in line at the grocery store can make you feel light headed. You might even faint. As the uterus swells it compresses arteries in your legs. This can drop your blood pressure and make you dizzy.
It is common to feel faint when you have gone a while without eating. This is due to low blood sugar, because that is your baby’s main source of food. You want to eat frequent, healthy snacks to keep your blood sugar up. Stock up on portable lunch box foods you can take with you. Such as apples, bananas, grapes, yogurt cups, carrots and celery, cheese and crackers, small cartons of milk, juice boxes, granola bars, boxes of raisins, etc.
Food Cravings, or Aversions to Foods
A well-known cliché of pregnant moms is that of craving certain foods or unusual combinations of foods. For example, one woman said she craved midnight snacks of warm peach pie topped with vanilla ice cream. Everyone has a funny story about food cravings, such as the chocolate covered pickle.
Taking a good pre-natal vitamin supplement and a fish oil capsule may ease some cravings and help prevent extra weight gain … and of course prenatal vitamins and fish oil are often doctor-recommended for the baby’s health.
Less well known but equally common are aversions to certain foods. You may find that some foods you previously enjoyed are no longer appetizing. One woman told us she had always liked pizza, but couldn’t stand it at all while she was expecting. Just the smell of it made her feel nausea. This problem may come and go for some women. For others it could last throughout maternity.
Sensitivity to Aromas
Another thing you may experience is a heightened sensitivity to aromas. Even a favorite aroma, such as the smell of a food or perfume, can make you gag. The smell of fresh mowed grass, the smell of a gas station, aromas of various foods, household cleaners, perfumes, cigarette smoke, etc., can all cause you to feel nauseated (see nausea symptom above). This is thought to be yet another side effect of the estrogen that is flooding your body.
This is a well known problem, and it is related to nausea (see above). It can be caused by a variety of factors. Your body is craving food and you have not eaten all night so your tummy feels queasy. Your body has way more hormones coursing through it than normal and this can cause nausea. You are sensitive to aromas and foods, so your morning coffee may not agree with you. The usual breakfast you typically have may not settle well in your stomach during this time. One woman usually had a scone along with a coffee late’ for breakfast, but found that during pregnancy it made her feel sick. She changed to tea and toast and that worked well for her. Each woman is different and will have different foods that may or may not contribute to morning sickness.
Heartburn and/or Constipation
This can be caused by the uterus starting to swell and pushing against the stomach and other organs as it grows. Also, increasing levels of hormones may slow down digestion and bowel functions to allow the body to absorb as much vitamins, minerals and nutrients as possible from foods. Taking a quality prenatal multi-vitamin-mineral supplement is important to help your body get the nutrients it needs for your growing baby.
The slower emptying of the stomach may also cause the release of increased stomach acid to aid digestion, leading to a feeling of heartburn. Soda crackers and sparkling water can help. Smaller more frequent meals are easier to digest. Drink plenty of water and eat fruits, vegetables and perhaps some raisin and bran cereal to help regularity. Some daily vitamin formulas also contain digestive enzymes (from pineapple and papaya fruits). These can help with digestion.
Ask your doctor before taking any kind of antacids as some contain aluminum and should be avoided. Heartburn and/or constipation can last throughout your term.
Mood Swings and Irritability
With all of these symptoms to deal with, along with raging hormones, is it any wonder you may experience some mood swings and irritability? There is also the emotional adjustment period to your new responsibility. Your world has changed. Even when your pregnancy is carefully planned, it is normal for your mind to suddenly be filled with questions about the timing, your career, finances, insurance, labor and delivery, motherhood, even the future costs of college.
It is perfectly normal to feel mixed emotions, excitement and depression, joy and sorrow, laughter and tears. Your partner may be very confused by this and may not seem to be supportive. Explain that your mood swings are very normal and that you need support and understanding.
You are the one doing all the hard work here and it is not asking too much for your partner to be patient, loving and to have plenty of hugs and kind words of support ready when you need them. Most fathers-to-be want very much to be supportive, they just need instructions. No one has ever told them anything about pregnancy. It is all a mystery to them.
We encourage you to email a link to this webpage so your partner can read it too.
The moodiness may decrease in the second trimester. Meanwhile get plenty of sleep, eat right, take your prenatal vitamins and fish oil (fish oil is known as “good mood food”) and get some moderate exercise by taking short walks.
Higher body temperature
One thing that can take a while to gauge is higher than usual body temperature. You may have been feeling a little bit warm lately and wondered if you are coming down with a cold or something. Take your temperature and see if it is higher than it normally would be.
If you’ve been trying to conceive and hoping to get pregnant your doctor may already have suggested that you keep a record of your body temperature every day. If your temperature is higher than usual and it stays high for two weeks in a row, something is obviously going on with your body. You may be pregnant (or you may have a low grade fever). Prolonged periods of increased temperature are a cause to seek your doctor’s opinion.
Low Back Pain
Low back pain can be “a real pain,” literally. This low back pain is caused by several factors. First is your weight change. You gain some weight because you are pregnant, your uterus gets bigger, and your baby grows larger every week. Next, your posture and torso are thrown out of alignment. This weight is mostly in the front of your torso, which pulls on your back. It is like wearing a backpack on your front instead of your back. This changes your posture and puts a strain on your back.
Lack of your typical night’s sleep is another factor. You may be laying on your side and trying to get comfortable. The weight of your womb is pulling on your back muscles as you lay there too. Get a maternity pillow as that can help make you more comfortable.
Finally, your hormones and body changes have some effect too. Your body is getting ready for birth and so some of your joints and ligaments are loosening up to make delivery possible. All of these changes added together can cause the early pregnancy symptoms of low back pain. It is estimated that about half of all women who are having a baby will experience this low back pain.
Some women may notice a little bit of discharge in their underwear and wonder what is causing it. Changes in vaginal discharge are due to increased cervical secretions brought on by the increased hormone levels in your body after conception occurs and the pregnancy begins. This is one of the first signs you might experience.
This watery secretion is a perfectly normal and expected common sign at this early stage. The color of the discharge may be white or it may be golden – but if it is pink or red then it is probably not discharge and instead may be spotting due to implantation bleeding.
One of the less known but sometimes very noticeable signs is the slight bleeding and spotting that can be caused when the fertilized egg begins to implant itself into the uterus. This is known as “implantation bleeding” and it usually takes place between 3 to 6 days after fertilization.
Once the egg becomes implanted in the uterus – congratulations, you are no longer wondering “am I pregnant?” – you are indeed pregnant. At this point you might notice a little bit of red or pink spotting. Not all women experience implantation bleeding so it is not considered one of the most obvious symptoms.
A Positive Pregnancy Test
If you are worrying about whether you are expecting a baby or not, you can put your mind at ease with a home pregnancy test. This gives you some scientific proof positive of whether you have conceived or not.
Pregnancy tests work best if you wait to take them until at least a day or two after you miss your period. Even if the test result is negative you should try it again a few days later to be sure. The most accurate results are from the blood tests done by your doctor or medical clinic. However there are some very high quality at home tests available too.
Bloating and Weight Gain
Yes some unavoidable weight gain is also an indication. You notice that your clothes are getting tighter, you are feeling bloated, the weight showing on the scale is going up… you are getting bigger and that is simply part of having a baby.
You want to keep your weight gain to the normal amount for a healthy pregnancy, and not let it get out of hand to where you pack on a lot of unnecessary pounds that will be hard to lose later. Some tips on pregnancy weight control can be found on this Pregnancy Without Pounds page.
Also, your odd food cravings may not be as strong if you are taking your prenatal vitamins and fish oil capsules. The cravings may be due to your body’s need for special nutrition. The importance of pre-natal vitamins and fish oil capsules
Your doctor will tell you that if you are trying to conceive, or you believe you may be pregnant, you should begin taking daily pre-natal vitamins. Vitamin supplements offer support for women trying to conceive, for your health and for the health of your baby.
Your body is under great nutritional demands to feed the growing little person inside you. For example, the March of Dimes encourages women to take a multi-vitamin containing folic acid, (a B vitamin).
Folic acid can help prevent birth defects. Help your body and your baby’s body get the nutrition it needs. Take a quality pre-natal vitamin with folic acid just as soon as you are trying to conceive or think you might have conceived.
Many pregnant women are now also taking a high quality fish oil supplement. This gives you the important nutrients of DHA and omega-3 for healthy babies.
It has been shown in clinical studies that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil which provides DHA, will help to provide nutritional support to a baby’s visual, nerve and brain function.
Fish oil capsules vary in quality. Distilled purified fish oil is thought by many to be the very best quality.
Don’t take any chances on the quality of some “mystery fish” oil … the very best kind we’ve ever found in our endless research is this amazing fish oil.
Warning: Your doctor will probably tell you, do not take flaxseed oil during pregnancy.
Don’t try to get omega-3 from flax. Get it from fish oil instead.
Flaxseed oil can have an effect upon estrogen and hormones, similarly to soy. Flax and soy are okay for postmenopausal women, not but no pregnant women!
Read our information about flaxseed oil and pregnancy before taking any flax seed oil.
Talk to your doctor. Be very careful to avoid most herbs and supplements when pregnant or nursing.
Most Moms only take prenatal supplements and the best quality fish oil pills.
Always get the advice and approval of your doctor before taking any supplement before, during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Ask your doctor and he or she will no doubt tell you to be sure your growing baby gets the important fish oil to provide important DHA to help healthy development of visual, nerve and brain function. Most people are deficient in omega-3, but high quality fish oil capsules can easily correct the deficiency and insure that your baby is getting the necessary DHA for healthy development.