The biggest sign of pregnancy among most women is a missed period. However, some wonder: is it possible to feel pregnancy symptoms before a missed period?
The answer to that is yes. There are signs of pregnancy that occur days to a couple of weeks after conception. However, every woman’s body is unique and experiences vary among women.
Are you beginning to plan your pregnancy? To assist you, we have gathered all the most common early signs of pregnancy and put them together in one place for you to look at.
You may find that you are experiencing a combination of the following signs, but be careful about being overzealous about every tiny symptom. A lot of these signs are also experienced during PMS and many others are non-specific. Still, the best way of knowing whether you are pregnant or not is to have a pregnancy test.
Most pregnant women would tell you that one of the earliest pregnancy signs they have felt was morning sickness, which, by the way, does not happen exclusively in mornings. However, you do not have to feel nauseous in order to confirm that you are expecting. In fact, you might just be one of the 20% of pregnant women who do not experience nausea.
Different women have different experiences when it comes to nausea. Some feel it merely days after conception, but it commonly occurs 2 to 4 weeks after the missed period. This happens because of the increase of estrogen and progesterone in a conceiving woman’s body.
You might also feel lightheaded if you are expecting. This is because blood pressure is reduced in your body as your blood vessels dilate to accommodate another human life. Thankfully, this symptom usually decreases after the first trimester
3. Sore, Tender and Heavy Breasts
It can be hard to distinguish the tenderness of breasts caused by PMS compared to one caused by pregnancy, so it is best not to jump to conclusions. If you are pregnant, you might feel that your breasts are sore, full, tingly, or painful. This commonly happens a week before you miss your period.
Tender breasts are caused by the rise of estrogen in the body, and this may begin 2 to 3 weeks after conception. Milk glands begin to develop in your breasts in preparation for milk production and feeding.
4. Darkening Areolas
In relation to your tender breasts, you might notice that your areolas are beginning to darken if you are pregnant. You might also observe that it increases in diameter and that it develops bumps similar to goosebumps.
If tender, sore breasts may be confused easily with PMS, darkening areolas are a more sure way of knowing that you are expecting.
5. Elevated Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
An elevated basal body temperature (EBB) is one of the more sure ways of knowing whether you are pregnant or not, but it requires a diligent observation for several months in order for this method to be effective. This means that you should be intentional about trying to have a baby, keeping track of your cycle, and recording your temperature.
This works on the principle that around the period of ovulation, your EBB rises due to the increase in progesterone but then decreases as you have your period. However, if you are pregnant, your EBB would be consistently high. This is because your body adjusts to accommodate a new life.
This increase may be from 0.4 to 1 degrees after a day or two after ovulation. If you have 18 to 20 days of consistently high EBB, then you might well be expecting.
6. Implantation Bleeding and Implantation Cramps
Implantation happens as the fertilized egg or blastocyst is burrowed into the uterine wall. The uterine wall at this point is thick and rich with blood and nutrients, and so the implantation might cause some bleeding and cramps.
The cramps may last for a few hours to three days, and this happens around a week before you miss your period. You may observe that the blood is thin, and pink or brown. It should not be as much as your period blood and you might even just observe this as you wipe your vagina.
7. Exhaustion and Fatigue
If you are feeling more exhausted than usual or more sleepy than usual, then it can be a sign that you are expecting.
Fatigue during pregnancy can be blamed at hormonal changes, that is, the progesterone that increases your tendency to sleep. Moreover, your body needs to produce more blood for the fetus so you would be feeling more tired than usual.
This symptom can be eased by eating nutritious, well-balanced meals throughout the day.
8. Sensitivity to Smell
Another not-so-convenient early symptom of pregnancy is a heightened sense of smell. This may be pointed at the increase of progesterone in the body. You may find that you cannot stand the smell of something that used to be normal to you. Don’t feel so bad about that as you can blame it on the hormonal changes.
9. Urinary Frequency
Some women observe that they feel the need to urinate more frequently two weeks after conception. That is, around the same time they expect their period to normally come, or even a day before they expect it to come.
This happens as progesterone increases, helping your kidney be ready as they would soon have to filter more blood with the coming of the little one. Moreover, as the size of the fetus increases, your uterus would be pushing against your bladder. This means that as your pregnancy progresses, you would feel more need to urinate frequently.
10. Cervical Mucus
Expect clearer, stringy discharge in your undies if you are pregnant. This is because the cervical mucus plug is beginning to form in order to protect your fetus from infections.
11. Vaginal Discharge
Aside from the cervical mucus, you can also expect creamier, thick discharge that normally goes away after you have had your period. In this case, the creamy discharge will begin after ovulation and will stay as you miss your period.
This is experienced as cell production is increased in your body to increase the uterine lining that will accommodate your fetus.
Thrush or yeast infection is another common experience among pregnant women. However, this is not likely to happen before you miss your period. In fact, only about 25% of pregnant women experience thrush before the missed period.
Thrush feels really itchy. You might also feel that your vagina is sore and it might sting when trying to urinate.
13. Softening Vagina
A softening vagina, also called the Goodell’s sign, may indicate that you are expecting. This happens as the increase in blood flow increases in your cervix. Aside from this, your cervix will also rise up a little and change its position.
The increase of progesterone in your body slows down your digestion so you might feel bloated if you are pregnant. Just be careful about jumping to conclusions as this is another symptom that you may also feel if you are having PMS.
Unfortunately, bloating also usually comes with extra gas as a package as more gas is trapped inside your intestines. So yes, you would be passing more wind than you usually do if you are expecting.
15. Constipation and Diarrhea
Since the increase of progesterone slows down your digestion, you may expect to meet constipation in your journey toward motherhood. On the other hand, you might experience diarrhea. Really, pregnancy causes some digestive problems along the way.
16. Food Cravings, Aversions, and Loss of Appetite
As you go through pregnancy, you are likely to experience a roller coaster of changes when it comes to diet and food preferences. Thanks to changes caused by hormonal imbalance, you might find yourself disgusted by food that you usually love, or love food that you used to dislike. There may be times that you would not feel like eating at all, and this might be linked to nausea that you experience.
Food aversions, cravings, and loss of appetite are common among pregnant women, especially in the first trimester. Usually, it decreases after the first trimester. This is experienced by 80-85% of women.
17. Mood Swings
Like some of the mentioned symptoms, mood swings may also be a PMS symptom. If you are expecting a baby, you might experience sudden changes in your mood. You might feel overly emotional, are too enthusiastic, or suddenly mad at the tiniest inconvenience You do not have to worry too much as these are caused by hormonal changes.
The drastic hormonal changes happening to your body might also cause you to experience headaches. While it is convenient to resort to ibuprofen or other pain relievers, try to avoid them and to instead use home remedies.
19. Aches and Pains
Also included in the list of early pregnancy signs are aches and pains in different parts of your body. In the first week after ovulation, you might feel a pinch or twinge coming from the inside of your abdominal area. Cramps are likely to continue especially in the early stages of pregnancy as your body stretches for your fetus.
Aside from cramps, you are also likely to experience aches from different parts of your body like your lower back. This is because your ligaments are stretched to accommodate your body’s need to care for a fetus. You might feel pain on your back before you miss your period if you are expecting a baby.
20. Metallic Taste in the Mouth
Food aversions, cravings, or loss of appetite are not the only symptoms you might feel if you are pregnant. Due to changes to your hormones, you might also experience a metallic taste in your mouth. Thankfully, this usually disappears after the first trimester.
21. Excessive Thirst
It takes a lot of energy to be able to support the life of another human being. It requires your body to make more blood for the fetus. You feel more tired than usual, and it’s no wonder if you will be feeling thirsty all the time. It is very important to stay hydrated all the time especially if you are pregnant.
22. Short Breath
Being pregnant is essentially living and breathing for two people. Also expect to feel a shortness of breath as your body needs more oxygen to support the life of your little one.
Your ligaments loosen up to prepare for the baby, and so do your muscles. One of these muscles is the sphincter, which helps stop stomach acids from coming up to your throat. It is not uncommon then to experience heartburn if you are pregnant. And speaking of loose muscles, you might also accidentally pass gas from time to time.
Excessive salivation is not a common early pregnancy sign. Still, if you are wondering why you seem to salivate more than usual, it may just be another pregnancy symptom.
25. Hot Flushes
Hot flushes are not just felt as a perimenopausal symptom. Since your body is undergoing a lot of hormonal fluctuations, you might also experience this during pregnancy.
26. Spots, Acne, Bumps
Once again related to hormonal fluctuations, expect breakouts when you are pregnant. However, this may be easily dismissed as a pre-menstrual symptom as well. It is then helpful to be observant on other signs of pregnancy.
27. Bizarre Dreams
This seems really odd, but having crazy dreams may be a result of hormonal changes as a result of bearing a fetus. You might expect interesting bedtimes a week or two after conceptions.
28. Caffeine Intolerance
You might not be able to live without caffeine streaming through your veins every single day but you might want to tone it down if you are pregnant. Your body is extremely sensitive to caffeine if you are pregnant and you might be surprised that you have a lower tolerance to caffeine. You might experience palpitations, excessive sweating, shaking, and even nausea if you take too much caffeine.
29. Congestion/Cold Symptoms
As your estrogen level increases, more blood flows in your vessels and thus you might experience a swelling of your sinuses. Rhinitis is not uncommon among pregnant women. You may feel that your sinuses are clogged up or runny, and you may even experience a scratchy throat.
30. Leg Cramps
Cramps are not exclusive to the abdominal area when you are pregnant. You might experience it more often on your legs. However, this is not that common of a symptom and is felt by only around 33% of women.
31. No Pimple Breakout
Perhaps this is one of the — if not the only — good early pregnancy sign. If you are used to having pimple or acne breakouts when that time of the month is getting close, you might just experience the opposite if you are pregnant. You are likely to observe this before you have your missed period.
Itching is experienced not only in the early stages of pregnancy but throughout it as well. As your fetus develops and grows, your body needs to adjust and your skin needs to be stretched. This stretching may cause itching especially around the breast and abdominal area.
As your body becomes more sensitive and accompanied by hormonal changes, you might be more prone to allergic reactions such as asthma.
34. Weight Gain
Fretting over some weight gain? Perhaps you might be expecting. Weight gain is very much normal during pregnancy. In the first month alone, it is normal to gain around a pound of extra weight.
Melasma is described as the darkening of some parts of the skin. This is not usually experienced by light-skinned pregnant women, but this is common for darker-skinned women during the first trimester.
If you observe that your forehead, nose bridge, upper life, or cheeks are turning darker, you might be expecting a bun in the oven.
FAQs about Pregnancy Signs before a Missed Period
How Soon Can I Get Pregnancy Symptoms before I Miss My Period?
Remember that each woman has a unique experience and it varies from person to person. Some experience them days after conception, or a couple of weeks. In general, pregnant women feel fatigued, nauseous, sensitive to smell, and bloated a week or 10 days before their missed period. They may also feel their breasts tender during the same time.
On the other hand, frequent urination is experienced around the same time that a woman is supposed to miss her period or even the day before they miss it.
Other pregnancy signs are rather more noticeable a little later or weeks after the missed period. This includes the enlargement and darkening of areolas, vaginal discharge, and BBT.
When Does on Start Experiencing Pregnancy Symptoms?
Again, it varies among individuals, but you might experience symptoms as early as 6 to 14 days after conception. You might also be pregnant 10 days before you are supposed to miss your period.
What’s the Difference between Pregnancy Symptoms and PMS?
It can be tricky to distinguish PMS symptoms with pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, mood swings, tender breasts, and bloatedness. It is then good to be aware of signs that are exclusive to each. For example, a dark, bumpy areola is something that is experienced only by pregnant women.
The bottom line is that only a pregnancy test can confirm whether a person is pregnant or not.
How Long after I Start Feeling Pregnancy Symptoms Can I Take a Home Pregnancy Test?
Home pregnancy tests are made differently. They are all made to detect the presence of the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in a woman’s urine, which is formed soon after a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine wall. The HCG is produced as the placenta is formed around the fetus. However, some tests are more sensitive to others.
In order to avoid getting false negatives, it is recommended that you take it a week after your supposed missed period. Some tests can detect it days after the missed period but it would be better if the HCG level in your urine is higher.
What are the Causes of Period Delay?
A missed period does not automatically mean that you are pregnant. There are so many other causes of a missed period, such as stress, which increases cortisol levels in your body and thereby leading to a missed or delayed period.
Being sick might also lead to changes to your hormonal cycle, as well as sudden weight changes, certain medications, or using birth control pills. It may also be caused by an underlying disease such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid issues, and eating disorders.
Is It Possible to Be Pregnant and Get Your Period?
It is possible to experience spottings when you are pregnant. One that we have already talked about is implantation bleeding, which happens to 20-30% pregnant women. This is not similar to menstrual bleeding as the latter is light and sometimes barely noticeable.
However, if you are bleeding enough to fill tampons or pads, then you are not likely to be pregnant. Bleeding during pregnancy is usually not a good sign. It might be a sign of miscarriage or infection.
What Should You Avoid before Taking a Pregnancy Test?
Generally, you only have to live a healthy lifestyle when you are pregnant. If you know practices that are not good for you as an individual, then you can imagine it might have worse effects on your unborn child, who is far more susceptible to diseases than you are.
Some of the things you should avoid are alcoholic beverages and smoking. These can have serious effects on your fetus and so it is best to let them go while you are pregnant.
You might also want to cut down on caffeine as you are not likely to be as tolerant to it as you were before you are pregnant.
Moreover, if you wish to take aspirin or ibuprofen, avoid them without first consulting your doctor. In general, ask your doctor whether your medications are safe to your little one.
Also, avoid deli meats and soft cheeses as they may cause listeriosis, which may ultimately lead to miscarriage.
Before taking a pregnancy test, avoid hot baths, hot tubs, and saunas as well.
Talk to Your Doctor
In general, seek the opinion of a healthcare practitioner if you are experiencing symptoms that are out of the ordinary. For example, you may feel aches and pains but they should not be excruciating. Intense pain may mean another underlying issue that needs medical attention. Heavy bleeding and dizziness with other symptoms are also good signs.
Of course, if you have tested positive using a home pregnancy test, the next best step is to see your doctor right away in order for you to be guided for the next steps.
In this article, we discussed possible early pregnancy signs. However, every woman is unique and experiences vary from person to person. While these pregnancy symptoms before missed period might be helpful knowledge, it is not healthy to fret over every possible sign of pregnancy. At the end of the day, only a pregnancy test will confirm whether you are pregnant or not.
Sure enough, motherhood is a roller coaster ride. While it has its ups and downs, it is a beautiful process and it sure will not last long. So relax and drink it all in. You are amazing!
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- Could You be Pregnant? Early Pregnancy symptoms (2013) https://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/a19969244/early-pregnancy-symptoms/
- Cherney, K. (2016). Can You Get Your Period and Still be Pregnant? https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnant/period-and-pregnant