While the best way to know if you are pregnant or not is through pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, there are other symptoms or signs to look out for. A missed period is not the only early sign of pregnancy. Other signs of early pregnancy could include morning sickness, fatigue and smell sensitivity.
When do symptoms start?
Though odd, your last menstrual period determines your first week of pregnancy. You are one week pregnant from your last week’s menstrual period, even if you weren’t actually pregnant.
The first day of your last period is used in calculating your expected delivery date. This is why the first few weeks where you may be asymptomatic also count toward your 40-week pregnancy.
|Signs and symptoms||Timeline (from the missed period)|
|mild cramping and spotting||week 1 to 4|
|missed period||week 4|
|Fatigue||week 4 or 5|
|nausea||week 4 to 6|
|tingling or aching breasts||week 4 to 6|
|frequent urination||week 4 to 6|
|bloating||week 4 to 6|
|motion sickness||week 5 to 6|
|mood swings||week 6|
|temperature changes||week 6|
|high blood pressure||week 8|
|extreme fatigue and heartburn||week 9|
|faster heartbeat||week 8 to 10|
|breast and nipple changes||week 11|
|noticeable weight gain||week 11|
|pregnancy glow||week 12|
- Cramping and spotting.
Everything is still happening at a cellular level from week 1 to week 4. A blastocyst ( a fluid-filled group of cells) is created from a fertilized egg that will develop into the baby’s organ and body parts.
The blastocyst will implant in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus in about 10 to 14 days (week 4) after conception.
Some signs of implantation bleeding include:
- Bleeding: this bleeding most times compared to your regular menstrual period. Spotting is defined by blood present only when wiping.
- Pain: This could be mild, moderate, or severe. 28 percent of women according to a study of 4,539 women, associated their spotting and light bleeding with pain.
- Color: Each episode color may be pink, red or brown.
- Episodes: Implantation bleeding is likely to last less than three days and does not require treatment as it will resolve on its own.
Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use illicit drugs that have been connected with heavy bleeding.
- Missed period:
At the end of implantation, your body will start producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The body maintains the pregnancy using this hormone. It also signals the ovaries to stop releasing mature eggs each month.
After conception, you will likely miss your next period four weeks after. You’ll want to confirm via a pregnancy test if you have an irregular period.
As soon as it is eight days after the missed period most home tests can detect hCG. A pregnancy test will be able to detect hCG levels in your urine and show if you are pregnant.
- Take a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant.
- If you tested positive, call your doctor or midwife to start your first prenatal appointment.
- Ask your doctor if you are on any medications if they pose any risk to your growing baby.
- Raised body temperature during early pregnancy.
Higher body basal temperature could also be a sign of pregnancy. You may experience an increase in your body’s core temperature, this will be more pronounced during an exercise or in hot weather. You will need to make sure to increase your water intake during this period and exercise cautiously.
Sometimes during early pregnancy fatigue can develop. This is a very common symptom in early pregnancy. The soaring in the level of your progesterone can make you feel fatigued and sleepy.
- Increased heart rate.
Your heart may start to beat faster and harder around weeks 8 to10. Arrhythmias and palpitation are common in pregnancy. Hormones are responsible for this.
Due to the fetus, there will be increased blood flow later in pregnancy. If you have an underlying heart problem, there is a need for management and your doctor can help supervise low dosages of drugs.
- Morning sickness, nausea and vomiting.
Usually, nausea and morning sickness develops around weeks 4 to 6. This can occur at any time during the day even though it is called morning sickness. The hormone is believed to be the culprit responsible for nausea and morning sickness.
Many women during the first trimester of pregnancy experience mild to severe morning sickness. It may become more intense towards the end of the first trimester, but most likely subside as you enter the second trimester.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Eating salt line crackers before getting up in the morning will help to settle morning sickness.
- If you can not keep down fluids or food call your doctor.
- Early changes to breasts: Aching, growing, and tingling.
Between weeks 4 and 6 breast changes can occur. It is likely that you develop swollen and tender breasts due to hormone changes. This may go away after a few weeks as a result of your body adjusting to the hormones.
There can also be nipples and breast changes around week 11. Your breasts will continue to grow due to hormones. The areola (the area around the nipple) may change to a darker color and grow larger.
- It is advisable to buy breast pads that fit into your bra to reduce friction on your nipple and nipple pain.
- Purchasing a comfortable supportive maternity bra can relieve breast tenderness. Often the most comfortable bra is cotton, underwire-free bra.
- Choose one that has varying clasps which will give you more room to grow in the coming months.
- Mood swings.
The increase of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy thereby making them high can lead to mood swings. Feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability and euphoria due to mood swings are common during pregnancy.
- Incontinence and frequent urination.
The amount of blood your body pumps increases during pregnancy, this causes your kidney to process more fluid than normal, which leads to more fluid in your bladder.
Bladder health is affected by the role of hormones. Running to the bathroom more frequently or accidentally leaking urine are all common during early pregnancy.
- Other symptoms of early pregnancy include Bloating and constipation, high blood pressure and dizziness, smell sensitivity, food aversions, weight gain, and pregnancy glow.
The second trimester will usher in a relief from most of the symptoms and body changes experienced during the first trimester. If any symptoms interfere with your daily life it is advisable to talk to your doctor.