Am I pregnant? Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy

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  • If you think you might be expecting, there are some very early signs and symptoms of pregnancy to look for because we all know how desperate the wait can be to find out!

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy differ from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy. Some women spot early signs and symptoms of pregnancy 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!

    Dr Prudence Knight, online GP at Push Doctor, explained: ‘Pregnancy symptoms vary massively, from the occasional woman who is genuinely surprised when she goes into labour to those who swear they can tell they are pregnant at the moment of conception.

    ‘For most women the earliest sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Some women feel tired and a little sick before this. In fact nausea, vomiting and exhaustion are the most common symptoms of early pregnancy, they tend to show up around six weeks from your last period and improve from about 12 weeks onwards.

    ‘Some women have a tiny bit of spotting around the time their period is due-this is thought to be due to the embryo implanting in your womb.’

    But what else should you look out for? Here we’ve covered everything to do with early signs and symptoms of pregnancy, from first signs of pregnancy to symptoms you might recognise when you’re later along.

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy

    Loss of appetite for favourite foods

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    Pregnancy can really mess with your eating habits that’s for sure! As well as craving foods you may not have previously been interested in, you can actually lose a taste for some foods and drinks that are usually a big part of your normal diet. Women sometimes go off staples such as coffee, tea or fatty foods.

    ‘Changes in tastes and a heightened sense of smell are very common and can persist throughout pregnancy but do tend to be strongest early on’, Dr Knight explained.

    What else could it be?
    People often experience a loss in appetite when they’re feeling anxious or stressed.

    RELATED: If you’re trying to conceive, try our ovulation calculator to work out when you’re most fertile!

    Tummy twinges, pinching and pulling

    Some women experience feelings inside their stomachs in the early stages of pregnancy that replicate the sensation of their muscles being pulled and stretched. Sometimes referred to as ‘abdominal twinges’, these tingles are nothing to worry about.

    What else could it be?
    If you’ve been heavily exercising or straining your muscles, you could be experiencing some tension from that.

    Vulva change in colour

    One of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy can be a change in colour of your vulva and vagina. Your vulva and vagina are usually pink, but this changes to dark purplish-red as your pregnancy progresses. This happens because more blood is needed in that area to build the tissue, a change which midwives refer to as Chadwick’s sign.

    What else could it be?
    All of the maintenance we perform on our vaginas can contribute to a change in colour. If you have been using razors or hair removal creams you could be suffering from reddening or a rash. Also, watch out for washing products that aren’t sensitive to the hormone balance as this can have an effect too.

    Peeing more often

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    It is possible that in the early stages of pregnancy you might feel an increased need to wee, feeling like you’re forever making trips to the toilet. You could notice this feeling especially at night time.

    What else could it be?
    It is normal to wee between six to eight times in a 24-hour period, if you’re urinating much more often than this it could be that you’re drinking too much fluid or caffeine. You could also have a bladder infection or be suffering from an over active bladder.

    Metallic taste

    Many women notice a strange, sour, slightly metallic taste in their mouth when first becoming pregnant. This happens because of the pregnancy hormone progesterone and is known as dysgeusia. It could change the way things you eat and drink taste, so if food starts to taste strange that could be why.

    What else could it be?
    There are serious illnesses that are linked to tasting metal such as problems with your liver or kidneys.


    The pregnancy hormone progesterone can cause your tummy to feel full, rounded and bloated so if you’re feeling swollen in that area you could be pregnant!

    What else could it be?
    Lots of foods can bloat you, so if you’re experiencing this feeling after eating foods such as grains, beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts or even artificial sweeteners it may just be wind.

    Period pain

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    This is a rather contradictory symptom, but you may actually get pains that resemble your period around the same time that you are expecting your period. This one of the less common signs of pregnancy but shouldn’t be discounted.

    What else could it be?
    It could also of course be your period!

    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.

    Dr Knight said: ‘Your breasts may become sore around the time your period is due and they usually increase in size during early pregnancy.’

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

    Bleeding or ‘spotting’

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    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.

    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.

    Nausea/Morning Sickness

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    Some women complain of feeling nauseous throughout their whole pregnancy and others manage to escape it. This well-known symptom known as morning sickness 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.


    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.


    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    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.

    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.


    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    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 to eye strain.

    Food cravings

    Having random food cravings is another one of the most common early signs and symptoms of pregnancy. 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. Craving sugar could also be a sign of diabetes.

    Feeling hot

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    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.

    ‘Feeling’ pregnant

    Many women will notice that they feel uterine cramping as an early sign and symptom 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.

    Larger breasts

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    You might already know that one of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy 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.

    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.

    Low libido

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    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.

    Tingling nipples

    Some women get a tingling feeling in their nipples as one of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy. 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.

    Shortness of breath

    Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
    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.

    Did you experience any of these signs and symptoms? Do you have any other tips for women who think they might be expecting? Head over to our Facebook page to share your thoughts… 

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