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11 early signs of a pregnancy

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Are you pregnant? Be aware of these early pregnancy symptoms. Some of these early signs of pregnancy can appear as early as a few weeks after conception.

Even before you take a pregnancy test and know for sure that you have a baby on board, you may be warned by some early pregnancy symptoms.

Since many of these early signs of pregnancy are similar to the symptoms you have just before your period, it can be hard to tell the difference.

While pregnancy tests and your doctor can provide definitive answers, here are 11 early pregnancy symptoms that indicate you are pregnant:

Missing period

It may be obvious, but if your period has disappeared (especially if it’s normally set like clockwork), you probably suspect pregnancy, and for good reason. The absence of menstruation is a symptom of early pregnancy that all expectant moms know about!

Some women have what appears to be an abnormally short or light period after they are already pregnant. In reality, it is often an implantation bleed (see below), but it can be confused with your last period. So you may not notice that your period has stopped, at least at first.


Imagine climbing a mountain without training, carrying a backpack that weighs a little more each day. That’s pregnancy in a nutshell!

In other words, it’s hard work, and that’s why fatigue is a symptom of early pregnancy that almost all expectant mothers feel.

When you get pregnant, an enormous amount of energy is devoted to building the placenta, your baby’s life support system. All of this can distract you from your usual performance and lead to pregnancy fatigue soon after conception.

fatigue is a symptom of early pregnancy

Sensitivity to odor

An exacerbated sense of smell is a symptom of early pregnancy that makes previously light, strong and unpleasant smells. As one of the first pregnancy symptoms that many women report, a baby could be in the air if your sense of smell is suddenly more sensitive and easily offended.

Morning sickness or nausea

Telltale nausea, known as morning sickness, can strike you at any time of the day and usually begins around the sixth week of pregnancy, although it can vary and even occur earlier.

Hormones, especially increased levels of progesterone (but estrogen and hCG can also be responsible), can cause the stomach to empty more slowly, resulting in this early pregnancy symptom that resembles seasickness.

Food aversions

Your very sensitive nose may be responsible for another early pregnancy symptom: 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 early pregnancy symptom can be triggered by anything from chicken (a common symptom) to seemingly harmless things like lettuce.

Although it’s not one of the first symptoms of pregnancy, it usually appears during the first trimester. Again, pregnancy hormones are to blame, especially in the early days when your body is flooded with them and still getting used to the hormonal changes. Don’t worry: this early pregnancy symptom often passes into the second trimester, when things have calmed down.

morning sickness

Mood swings

Again, pregnancy-related hormonal changes are responsible for the mood swings you may experience once you are pregnant. As early as the fourth week of pregnancy, you may experience mood swings similar to PMS; later in the first trimester and often throughout your pregnancy, you may be in a good mood one minute and anxious or depressed the next.

In addition to the pregnancy hormones being unleashed, your life is about to undergo a fundamental change, so it’s perfectly normal for your moods to be disturbed. Do what you can to give yourself a break, eat well, get enough sleep and enjoy yourself. Take a deep breath. Everything will be fine.

Changes in the breasts

Tight, swollen breasts and dark, lumpy areolas are some of the breast changes you may notice in early pregnancy. The hormones estrogen and progesterone deserve the same attention.


Having problems zipping up your jeans? Bloating in early pregnancy is hard to distinguish from pre-pregnancy bloating, but it is an early warning pregnancy symptom that many women experience shortly after conception.

You can’t yet attribute this bloated feeling to being too important for your baby, but you can credit it to the hormone progesterone, which helps slow digestion, giving the nutrients in the food you eat more time to get into your bloodstream and reach your baby.

Unfortunately, bloating is often accompanied by constipation. Eating the right amount of fiber in your diet can help you eat regularly.

Elevated basal body temperature

If you used a special basal thermometer to take your first morning temperature, you will notice that it rises about 1 degree at the time of conception and stays high throughout your pregnancy.

While this is not a sure sign of early pregnancy (there are other reasons your temperature may rise), it could give you a hint of the big news.

Elevated basal body temperature

Implantation bleeding

In up to 30% of new moms, light bleeding or implantation bleeding before menstruation (about six to 12 days after conception) can be an early pregnancy symptom, indicating that an embryo has implanted in the lining of the uterus, which may or may not be accompanied by menstrual-like cramping.

When can you notice symptoms of pregnancy?

Very early pregnancy symptoms (such as sensitivity to smell and breast tenderness) may appear a few days after conception, before you get your period, while other early signs of pregnancy (such as spotting) may appear about a week after the sperm and egg meet. Still others (such as urinary frequency) often appear about two weeks after conception.

That is, early pregnancy symptoms occur at different times in different women. Some women have few (if any) of these signs until a few weeks into pregnancy.

Although many women do not experience early pregnancy symptoms, some women experience all of them. If you haven’t had your period yet and are experiencing fatigue, morning sickness, pimples, and sore breasts, you can take a pregnancy test at home and then see a doctor for a blood test to confirm.

Whatever symptoms you have, the only way to know for sure that you are pregnant is to make an appointment with your gynecologist.

Make an appointment as early as possible so that if you have early pregnancy symptoms, you can get the best possible care from the start. And if you’re expecting a baby, congratulations! You are embarking on the journey of a lifetime.

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About the Author

Dr. Jennifer Broad is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who has been practicing in Newport Beach, California for over a decade. She received her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, and completed her residency training at the University of California, Irvine.

Dr. Broad is dedicated to providing personalized care to her patients and is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest medical advances in her field. She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a member of the Orange County Medical Association.



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