Never Miss a Beat!
Subscribe to Our HealthBeat Newsletter!
Thank you for subscribing!
You are already subscribed.
Sorry, an error occurred. Please try again later.
Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!
Early Signs You Might Be Pregnant
“Am I pregnant?”
If that’s a question you’re asking yourself, there is really only one way to know for sure: by taking a pregnancy test.
However, your body may be giving you clues that you’re pregnant if you pay close attention.
I Think I Might Be Pregnant
Suspecting you’re pregnant but not knowing for sure can make you feel like you’re in limbo. Sure, it can cause you some stress, worry, or anxiety, but it also can make you feel hopeful and excited.
Early warning signs and symptoms can give you a “heads up” that you may be pregnant. These are not sure signs of pregnancy — rather indicators, instead. You’ll want to take a pregnancy test to know for sure.
Not all people experience pregnancy the same, nor do they experience the same early pregnancy symptoms. While many do experience early pregnancy symptoms, they may be different for you than they are for your colleague or best friend.
What’s more, if you’ve been pregnant before, the early symptoms you experience this time around may not be the same as your last pregnancy. Keep in mind that many of these symptoms mimic menstruation symptoms — those felt before, during, and just after your period — so you might be pregnant and not even realize it.
Following are some of the common early pregnancy signs and symptoms. It’s important to understand, however, that these symptoms could be due to other things going on in your body other than pregnancy.
Therefore, you’re not necessarily pregnant if you notice any of the symptoms. It bears repeating: The only way to know for sure if you’re pregnant is to take a pregnancy test.
What Are Early Signs of Pregnancy?
Your symptoms likely won’t begin until your fourth week. At this point you may experience mild blood spotting and cramping or miss your period. So if you’re thinking you might be pregnant, see if you can relate to any of these early indications:
1. Missed period.
According to an American Pregnancy Association survey, approximately 29 percent of women claimed their first sign of pregnancy was a missed period. Missing your period is a common symptom of pregnancy and it often leads women to do a pregnancy test. You may notice some bleeding even if you’re pregnant, but it usually will be lighter and shorter than your normal menstrual period.
2. Urinating frequently.
A couple weeks after you conceive, you may need to urinate more. This is caused by the pregnancy hormone hCG, which increases blood flow to your kidneys to help them eliminate waste from your body more efficiently. As your uterus grows quickly, the pressure on your bladder becomes greater. The amount of urine storage space you have decreases, which causes you to urinate more often.
3. Swollen, tender breasts.
The same American Pregnancy Association poll showed that 17 percent of the women surveyed said their first sign of pregnancy was breast changes. When you’re pregnant, you’ll go through some hormonal changes early on that will cause your breasts to be sore and sensitive. They will feel heavier and fuller as they swell with blood when hCG and progesterone start increasing in your body after the egg is fertilized. After several weeks, this discomfort typically subsides as your body begins adjusting to these hormonal changes.
4. Nausea and sometimes vomiting.
Nausea was the first pregnancy indication 25 percent of women experienced. Although morning sickness doesn’t usually hit until around the one-month mark of pregnancy, nausea often is felt earlier. It’s thought that pregnancy hormones are what cause nausea, but it isn’t quite clear.
Many but not all women notice a small amount of blood spotting that takes place during implantation, or when the fertilized egg implants itself into the uterus wall.
6. Fatigue and tiredness.
You may start feeling fatigue and tiredness due to the extra progesterone your body is producing. You may need to take naps early on or go to bed earlier, but it tends to lessen by the start of the second trimester.
7. Abdominal bloating.
The rise in the pregnancy hormone progesterone may also cause you to experience abdominal bloating. You won’t gain much weight during this time, but you may begin to feel bloated, which may make you to think you’re gaining weight.
The process of implantation can cause cramps, but you may think they are an early sign of your period. If you’re pregnant, this cramping also may be due to the stretching of the uterus as it begins to prepare for the growing baby over the course of the next nine months.
9. Nipple darkening.
Nipple darkening is another early symptom of pregnancy. It’s caused by your pregnancy hormones affecting the cells or melanocytes in your nipples that control the color. Your nipples may also grow larger and be more pronounced during this time, too.
10. Sensitivity to smell.
Your sense of smell may be heightened, making previously mild smells unappealing and strong. If you notice your sensitivity to smells is heightened and you are offended by certain smells you normally don’t mind, this could be an early sign that you are pregnant.
11. Raised temperature.
Your temperature also rises during pregnancy, and you can track it with a basal body thermometer. Although not always a sure-fire indicator that you’re pregnant since your temperature can rise for other reasons, it could be giving you an advanced clue that you may be expecting.
12. Increased gas.
Increased gas is another early indication of pregnancy. It is very common in your first few weeks of being pregnant and can continue throughout your entire pregnancy. If you are not usually “gassy,” you might want to give this not-so-pleasant sign your attention.
Another early pregnancy symptom of pregnancy may be a change in your digestion, such as heartburn. If you start feeling heartburn or a burning sensation in your chest after eating familiar food, it could be pregnancy-related heartburn. A good way to tell if it is heartburn due to pregnancy is if the burning feeling worsens when you lie down or bend over. Also, if you’re not usually prone to getting heartburn, you may want to investigate.
14. Change in eating habits.
If you notice that you’re suddenly hungry all the time or you are now wrinkling your nose at that once heavenly coffee aroma, it could be an early pregnancy sign. Many OB-GYNs believe that changes in the appetite or food aversions are caused by your body’s pregnancy hormones. So whether you’re hungrier than usual or you find certain food scents to be disgusting or extra delicious, you may want to take that pregnancy test.
15. Constantly feeling full.
Feeling full all the time is a common sensation women experience early on in pregnancy. This full feeling often comes on before you miss your period. If you’ve never been pregnant before, you may not notice this feeling. But, if you have been pregnant before and have been trying to conceive, you may pick up on this sign right away. If you have experienced this fullness in another pregnancy and are starting to experience that same feeling now, you might be pregnant.
16. Melasma — Darkening of the skin.
During the early weeks of pregnancy, you may develop what is known as the “mask of pregnancy.” This mask is so-called because your skin darkens around your upper lip, bridge of your nose, forehead, or cheeks. Melasma usually presents itself on both sides of your face and is more common in women who are darker-skinned; however, it also can be a sign of other conditions, so only a pregnancy test can confirm if it’s pregnancy-related.
Some people experience headaches during the early stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy-related headaches are due to changing hormone levels. They don’t change your vision and tend to affect only one side of the head.
18. Mood swings.
You may be a bit moodier than normal in the first stages of pregnancy. You’re hungry, sore, and tired, and don’t know if you’re really pregnant or not. Meanwhile, your hormones are going crazy, and that can wreak havoc on your mood.
While these are good clues as to whether or not you are pregnant, remember that many of these symptoms are common to other conditions. They could be indications you are about to start your period or you are coming down with something — or it could be that you are pregnant.
How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?
Pregnancy tests done in the doctor’s office detect the presence of the hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This particular hormone is made immediately after you have a fertilized egg attach itself to your uterus wall, typically around five or six days after it’s been fertilized.
Your hCG levels will rise rapidly if you’re pregnant. They’ll typically double approximately every 72 hours early on in your pregnancy. There are two different types of pregnancy tests that will give you the same answer: blood tests and urine tests.
Tests in doctors offices and health care centers care are highly accurate.
Many people often rely on a home test instead. While these tests are convenient, they also can give false-negative or false-positive results. There are a number of reasons why home pregnancy tests may give false results. That is because:
- They generally can’t detect hCG levels in urine if the test is taken too soon after a missed period.
- They take some time to display the true result, which could be misread if taken too soon.
- You drank too much fluid before the test and it diluted your urine.
If you think you might be pregnant, your health care provider will want to run another test to confirm the results of your home test.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.