Pregnancy Symptoms — Early Signs of Pregnancy

What are the symptoms of pregnancy

Pregnancy symptoms differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy; however, one of the most significant pregnancy symptoms is a delayed or missed period.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of pregnancy is important because each symptom may be related to something other than pregnancy. You may experience signs or symptoms of pregnancy within a week of conception. However, it is possible you may not experience any symptoms for a few weeks.

What are Early Pregnancy Symptoms to Watch For?

Symptoms to watch for early on include a missed period, headaches, tender breasts, nausea and lower backaches. If you have been sexually active and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to take a pregnancy test.  Are you experiencing morning sickness or could it be something else?

Here are some quick references to some common questions or concerns:

If you are using the Search Tool to find a free testing provider, use the drop down to choose “Pregnancy Center,” add your zip code, and then expand the radius to 30 miles and click “Search.”

Trying to get pregnant? Get APA’s “Essential Guide to Getting Pregnant”

First Sign of Pregnancy: Spotting

Implantation bleeding can be one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms.  About 6-12 days after conception, the embryo implants itself into the uterine wall. Some women will experience spotting as well as some cramping. Some women do not even notice this so don’t worry if you are trying to get pregnant and don’t see it – you could still be pregnant.

Other Explanations: Actual menstruation, altered menstruation, changes in birth control pill, infection, or abrasion from intercourse.

First Sign of Pregnancy: A Missed Period

A delayed or missed period is the most common pregnancy symptom leading a woman to test for pregnancy. When you become pregnant, your next period should be missed. However, some women can bleed while they are pregnant, but typically this bleeding will be shorter or lighter than a normal period.

Other Explanations: Excessive weight gain/loss, fatigue, hormonal problems, tension, stress, ceasing to take the birth control pill, illness or breastfeeding.

Swollen/Tender Breasts:

Swollen or tender breasts is a pregnancy symptom which may begin as early as 1-2 weeks after conception. Women may notice changes in their breasts; they may be tender to the touch, sore, or swollen.

Other Explanations: Hormonal imbalance, birth control pills, impending menstruation (PMS) can also cause your breasts to be swollen or tender.

Fatigue/Tiredness:

Feeling fatigued or more tired is a pregnancy symptom which can also start as early as the first week after conception.

Other Explanations: Stress, exhaustion, depression, common cold or flu, or other illnesses can also leave you feeling tired or fatigued.

Nausea/Morning Sickness:

Is nausea a pregnancy symptom

This well known pregnancy symptom will often show up between 2-8 weeks after conception. Some women are fortunate to not deal with morning sicknessat all, while others will feel nauseous throughout most of their pregnancy.  If you are experiencing morning sickness at all, take a look at our articles on morning sickness to learn how to manage it better.

Other Explanations: Food poisoning, stress, change in hormonal birth control method or other stomach disorders can also cause you to feel queasy.

Backaches:

Lower backaches may be a symptom that occurs early in pregnancy; however, it is common to experience a dull backache throughout pregnancy.

Other Explanations: Impending menstruation, stress, other back problems, and physical or mental strains.

Headaches:

The sudden rise of hormones in your body can cause you to have headaches early in pregnancy.

Other Explanations: Dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, impending menstruation, eye strain, or other ailments can be the source of frequent or chronic headaches.

Frequent Urination:

Around 6-8 weeks after conception, you may find yourself making a few extra trips to the bathroom.

Other Explanations: Urinary tract infection, diabetes, increasing liquid intake, or taking excessive diuretics.

Darkening of Areolas:

If you are pregnant, the skin around your nipples may get darker.

Other Explanations: Hormonal imbalance unrelated to pregnancy or may be a leftover effect from a previous pregnancy.

Food Cravings or Food Aversions:

While you may not have a strong desire to eat pickles and ice cream, many women will feel cravings for certain foods when they are pregnant. This can last throughout your entire pregnancy. Some women develop adversions to certain types of food early in pregnancy and this too can last for the next 9 months.

Other Explanations: Poor diet, lack of a certain nutrient, stress, depression, illness or impending menstruation.

Your Next Steps:

  • Having symptoms? Call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-672-2296.
  • Questions about paternity? Call for free paternity info at 1-800-798-0580.
  • Trying to conceive? Order Fertility Products.

Recommended Reading

Trying to get pregnant? Download the APA’s e-Book, The Essential Guide to Getting Pregnant

You may also find the following books helpful.

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