Most women already know that a missed menstrual period is the most common indication of pregnancy. While this is indeed one of the most well-known and obvious signs of pregnancy, it’s important to keep in mind that a missed period isn’t always an assurance of pregnancy; menstrual irregularities could be a result of polycystic ovary syndrome, excessive exercise, medication, and other causes.
However, if you are trying to conceive and you don’t usually experience irregular periods, it could very well be an indication that you are pregnant. Since there is no way of knowing with absolute certainty exactly when you conceived, pregnancy is usually counted from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP).
Each woman experiences early symptoms of pregnancy differently. Some women will exhibit all of the common signs of pregnancy, while others may experience few or have difficulty detecting any symptoms at all.
The most common early signs of pregnancy can include headaches, which usually occur as a result of the rise in hormones early in pregnancy, as well as mood swings. Frequent urination is another common symptom which can occur even before the growing baby begins to push on your bladder.
Morning sickness is another tell-tale sign of pregnancy, and it can occur within two to eight weeks of becoming pregnant. For some women, nausea can last throughout the duration of pregnancy, and although it’s referred to as “morning sickness,” it can occur at any point in the day.
About a quarter of all pregnant women experience spotting, or slight bleeding that is typically a bit lighter in color than usual menstrual blood. Usually, this symptom occurs between six to 12 days following conception, though it can continue to happen within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Swollen or sore breasts or nipples can also be a common sign of pregnancy, and women may experience these symptoms in as few as one to two weeks after conception. Fatigue, which is brought on by the surge of progesterone (a hormone that aids in pregnancy and the growth of milk-producing glands), is also common during pregnancy and can occur as early as one week following conception. Women who are pregnant may also notice a change in their palate – many women experience food aversions, cravings, or a combination of the two at any given point during their pregnancies, though these symptoms could last the entire duration of pregnancy.1 Many symptoms do not present themselves until later stages of pregnancy. Nausea, for instance, usually begins within four to eight weeks of gestation.2 While it’s possible that some women will experience early symptoms of pregnancy, for others, there may not be any noticeable signs until after the two week wait period has already passed. Many of the symptoms that are associated with pregnancy (sore breasts, fatigue, and slight bleeding) are similar to normal menstruation symptoms, so the only way to know if you’re pregnant for sure is to take a pregnancy test after the two week wait has passed.3
- National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services. (2013, July 12). “What are some common signs of pregnancy?” Retrieved November 05, 2015, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/Pages/signs.aspx ↩
- American Pregnancy Association. (2015 July). “Nausea During Pregnancy.” Retrieved 2015 November 05, 2015, from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/nausea-during-pregnancy/. ↩
- Pagano, T. (2014 October 8). “Pregnancy Symptoms.” Retrieved November 24, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-am-i-pregnant?page=3. ↩