Signs and symptoms of pregnancy

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Early signs of pregnancy

If you think you might be pregnant, there are some very early signs that can indicate that you might be expecting.


Of course, there's no better guarantee to tell if you're pregnant than by taking a pregnancy test and confirming it with your GP, but while you're waiting for your appointment, there are some crucial early pregnancy signs and symptoms to look out for - we all know how desperate the wait can be to find out!  

Pregnancy symptoms differ from mum to mum and from pregnancy to pregnancy. Some women spot early pregnancy symptoms and signs within just a week of conception but some women will get no pregnancy symptoms at all - we've all heard the stories about people giving birth without even knowing they were expecting!

If you think you might be experiencing early pregnancy signs, read on to see what could be causing them and if it might be time to take a test. Good luck!

Early pregnancy signs


Pregnancy sign: Bleeding or 'spotting'

About a week after conception,the embryo pushes itself into the wall of the uterus (or womb). This causes some light bleeding or spots of blood to appear in your knickers. You may even get stomach cramps while the embryo is moving.

What else could it be? Your period (although some women still get light periods throughout their pregnancy), changes with the Pill; such as forgetting to take it or taking it during your seven-day break, an infection, or bleeding from sex.

Pregnancy sign: Tender breasts

As early as 1-2 weeks after conception you might notice a difference in your breasts. Your nipples might be sensitive to the touch, they may be sore or they may change shape and become swollen - meaning your bra might not fit as well as normal.

What else could it be? It could be your pill or you might be due on your period - many early signs of pregnancy are similar to when you're having a period or are due on.

Pregnancy sign: Missed period

This is the most common pregnancy symptom, and is usually the first one you might pick up on. It happens around 4-5 weeks after the embryo has attached itself to the wall of the uterus, the wall builds itself up so the embryo is well cushioned - rather than break down and cause a period.

What else could it be? Stress, changing your contraception or excessive weight gain or loss.

Pregnancy sign: Nausea/Morning Sickness

Some women complain of feeling nauseous throughout their whole pregnancy and others manage to escape it. This well-known symptom will normally show up between 2-8 weeks into your pregnancy. One theory is that it is caused by an increase of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone apparently softens the muscles in the uterus ready for labour but it also softens the stomach muscles causing nausea and sickness.

What else could it be? Food poisoning, stress, or other stomach upsets can also cause you to feel queasy. Try our tried and tested morning sickness remedies.

Pregnancy sign: Fatigue/Tiredness

Many pregnant women complain that they find themselves falling asleep on buses, at work and even during sex! Feeling more tired is a pregnancy symptom that can also start as early as the first week and is because your body is working overtime to get ready for the baby.

What else could it be? Stress, depression, common cold or flu, or other illnesses can also leave you feeling tired or sleepy.

Pregnancy symptom: Backaches

Having backache is a common symptom throughout your pregnancy due to the extra weight you're carrying, but it can also be an early sign of pregnancy too. The ache will be similar to the stomach cramps and aches you get when you're on your period. And it's just because your body is getting ready for the baby.

What else could it be? If you are due on your period you may get a
backache or if your suffering from physical or mental stress and tension. It could also be another back problem.

Pregnancy symptom: Leg cramps

It's quite common for women to suffer from leg cramps during pregnancy
and you might notice it a lot more in the early stages. This has been
linked to having less calcium in your blood because it's being taken by
the baby!

What else could it be? Straining a muscle or being cold, especially at night, can cause the muscles in your legs to tense and spasm.

Pregnancy symptom: Headaches

The sudden rise of hormones in your body can cause you to have headaches early in pregnancy. If you're tired too you might be more sensitive to light and noise.

What else could it be? There are loads of reasons why people get headaches, from tension and dehydration eye strain.

Pregnancy symptom: Weeing more

About 6-8 weeks into your pregnancy you may find yourself making a few, or even a lot of extra trips to the bathroom. It's all because of changes in hormones, specifically an increase in progesterone, and your body kicking out any toxins.

What else could it be? Infections make you wee a lot more as well
as if you've started drinking more water or you're on a diet. It is also a one sign of diabetes.

Pregnancy symptom: Food cravings

Having random food cravings is another one of the most common symptoms. It's caused by your body craving what it needs. Some women say they crave mud when they're pregnant, and this may be due to a lack of iron in their blood. Others want combinations like fish and ice cream! This could be because of a lack of protein and sugar.

It doesn't necessarily mean your cravings will be weird and wonderful though, just a craving for cheese could mean you need more calcium, especially if it's linked with your cramps. This can start early on and last throughout your pregnancy. You should give into these cravings if you can, but within reason!

What else could it be? Poor diet, lack of a certain nutrient, stress, depression, or if you're due on. Craving sugar is also a sign of diabetes.

Pregnancy symptom: Feeling hot

You might not even notice the difference yourself, but if you're trying for a baby you may have been charting your basal body temperature. This is the temperature of your body at rest. Throughout your cycle, your body temperature fluctuates and if it has been high for 18 days or more, it's likely that you're pregnant. Normal temperature is 96-98°F and when you are ovulating or pregnant, it may be around 97-99°F.

What else could it be? Your temperature is likely to rise if
you're feeling unwell with a cold or the flu. It will also rise slightly
at different stages of your cycle.

Top tip: Your basal body temperature is best taken first thing in
the morning. If you take it at the same time every day, it will make it
easy to track.

Pregnancy symptom: 'Feeling' pregnant

Many women will notice that they feel uterine cramping in early pregnancy. You could even feel period like cramps or even pain on one side. The most common reason for this kind of cramp is that your uterus is growing. This is normal pain and should be expected in a healthy pregnancy. You may also feel 'full' or 'heavy' around your uterus, and actually it's not uncommon to hear that in early pregnancy some women
describe feeling like they were about to start their period any minute.

What else could it be? If you are due on your period you may get pre-menstrual cramps.

Pregnancy symptom: Larger breasts

You might already know that one of the first pregnancy symptoms many women experience is changes to their breast tissue. Towards the end of the first trimester or the beginning of the second trimester you may notice that your breasts begin to grow. This is because the tissues inside the breast are preparing for nursing.

What else could it be? Breast tenderness and swelling can be another sign that you're expecting your period.

Pregnancy symptom: Changes in nipples

Your nipples may become larger and darker as your pregnancy progresses. You may also notice small, goose bump or pimple like white areas on your areola, but don't panic, these are totally normal. They're called Montgomery's tubercules.

What else could it be? Changes in nipples should be examined as part of your regular check against breast cancer, follow our 5 easy steps to checking your breasts for peace of mind.

Pregnancy symptom: Low libido

It's common to suffer from a low libido during the early stages of pregnancy. Your breasts may be sensitive, causing you a bit of pain, plus feeling nauseous and tired could reduce your sexual appetite. Your partner might also be scared of hurting the baby, or of the baby 'knowing' what is going on during sex, which of course is not true!

What else could it be? There are lots of other reasons why you could have gone off sex, from exhaustion to stress. We've outlined 10 reasons why you might have a low libido


Pregnancy symptom: Tingling nipples

Some women get a tingling feeling in their nipples as one of the very first signs that they're pregnant. The surge in hormones in your body causes an increased blood supply to your breasts, which causes the tingling sensation.

What else could it be? It could just be related to your menstrual cycle, or there's a small chance a tingling feeling can be caused by an infection.

Pregnancy symptom: Shortness of breath

In early stages of pregnancy, an increase of progesterone in your body causes you to breathe more often, which can feel like shortness of breath. You'll also increase the amount of air you take in with each breath. The feeling might be a bit unusual, but it's usually harmless.

What else could it be? A shortness of breath could also be caused by asthma.

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