You have probably already heard about the most common signs of pregnancy, and you have probably been told how clear the signs become X number of weeks into pregnancy, right? But what about the very beginning? Is there any way to know that you are pregnant even before your stomach starts to grow and the morning sickness really picks up speed?
The answer is yes – there are actually a number of signs of pregnancy that usually come really early, like during the period where the embryo becomes a fetus. And that is exactly what we are going to be talking about today!
Pregnancy – Week 1
It is difficult to say what is actually week 1 during a pregnancy. When you count weeks, you always count from the first day of the last period. Thus, the entire “menstrual week” is technically the “week 1” of pregnancy – even though there is no fertilized egg yet.
So, the first week of pregnancy is therefore not counted from the first week when the egg has been fertilized. This is because it is difficult to say exactly when the egg has been fertilized. For this reason, counting the first day of your last period has become the standard.
The first week after the egg has been fertilized is technically counted as pregnancy week two, three or four, depending on when the ovulation and the actual fertilization takes place.
What happens during this first period is that the egg – which has been fertilized in the fallopian tube – slides down to the uterus and gets stuck there. For this to happen, the body’s neurotransmitters – hormones – begin to be produced and the body begins to prepare for 9 months of pregnancy. It is also now that the cells in the embryo begin to divide to create the fetus and the placenta.
When do the first symptoms of pregnancy come?
The very first symptoms of pregnancy come almost immediately after an egg has been fertilized. The body begins right away to prepare for the impending pregnancy. As soon as a week after conception, the body itself begins to secrete the hormone hCG. As a result, your entire body begins to really feel that something is going on. The hormone hCG is the hormone that prevents the body from menstruating as usual.
Early signs of pregnancy
More hormones are sent out and the body goes into full pregnancy mode – this causes all those amazing symptoms we all love (NOT) to start coming. Here are the top early signs of pregnancy to keep an eye out for:
1. Missed period
You’ve heard it before – and you’ll hear it again – a missed period is always one of the very first signs of pregnancy. When the body no longer pushes away the walls of the uterus, it is a sign that something is happening inside.
Keep in mind, however, that there may be other reasons for not having your period, such as stress and other health related issues. If your period is otherwise usually regular and no major changes have taken place in your life, then a period that does not come is a typical sign of a pregnancy, and therefore it is worth checking out.
Pregnancy signs before menstruation
Although menstruation is a good sign of pregnancy, there may be some reasons why you do not want to wait until menstruation. Maybe you already have an irregular cycle, maybe you use contraception that prevents you from menstruating. Or there may be other physical reasons why menstruation (or lack thereof) cannot be used as a sign of pregnancy. Fortunately, there are still a handful of different pregnancy symptoms that can occur that have nothing to do with menstruation:
Even before menstruation, you can begin to feel the waves of pregnancy through nausea. The hormones secreted in the body can easily make you nauseous.
What causes nausea during early pregnancy?
Among other things, the increased level of the hormone estrogen is the main cause of nausea in pregnant women. The reason is that estrogen in higher doses can affect digestion and this makes you feel unwell. The most common is that the nausea comes in the morning when the body is just waking up to life. However, many moms to be also experience nausea during the night time.
A common symptom of a pregnancy is that you get various forms of food cravings. This can come early in pregnancy, and what you get cravings for can vary quite a bit. Some get extra cravings for fast food and weird combinations that nobody in their sane mind would dare to eat. Others get a craving for special fruits or strange flavour combinations. It also happens that you get cravings for things that you do not usually or should not eat. Chalk and concrete are usually typical strange cravings you can suffer from. Yikes!
Why this happens, no one has a perfect answer. It is usually thought that it is due to some sort of deficiency, that the body wants to eat ex. fast food because it has a lack of salt. However, this is not always the case.
Sometimes it can instead be about the hormones disturbing the dopamine levels in the brain – which makes you want to activate that “feel good hormone” of yours by eating something that you crave. It is a way for the body to hack its own reward system. Another cause of cravings can be unstable blood sugar levels.
A lot happens in the body during the first part of pregnancy. The fact that there is a human seed growing in you mean that the body will probably need to use a little more energy than usual.
Of course, fatigue is difficult to trace to a pregnancy as it can be due to so many other unrelated things. If you feel that you are tired and at the same time have more of the symptoms on this list, it may be a sign that you are pregnant.
5. Menstrual cramps / pain in the stomach
During the first period of pregnancy, the embryo must be attached to the uterus. This usually happens fairly quickly after the embryo is created, but it can be felt for a little longer. It is common to experience some form of stomach pain or menstrual pain in connection with this – and this is precisely because of the fact that the embryo is attached to the uterus.
Usually this cramp doesn’t really hurt as much as a “normal” menstrual pain, but is often described as a mild menstrual pain. If you are not aware of it, it can easily be taken to be a common stomach pain due to gas or the like – some do not feel this at all.
6. Light bleeding
As I described under symptom number 5, the embryo must attach to the uterus, and that is what can cause mild pain. However, this process can also lead to some light bleeding.
Right at the beginning of a pregnancy, light bleeding is common, often in the form of a few drops of blood, blood-mixed discharge or as something some women identify as a light period. If you bleed a lot and the body behaves as it usually does during a period, it is most likely a normal period, but if you bleed much less than you normally do, it can be a sign of pregnancy.
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7. Growing and extra sensitive breasts
When the body prepares for 9 months as a pregnant woman and then a life with a child, it is natural that the breasts are also affected during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Even during the first period, the breasts may begin to feel different, even hurting a little bit. If you remember what it was like to go through puberty, some people usually equate the tenderness in the breasts during that time with that during the first few weeks of pregnancy
As you probably understand, this change is due to the fact that the breasts will later be used to feed your baby. It is worth remembering that this symptom does not have to mean that the breasts start to grow overnight, but the symptoms you may get in the beginning are usually much milder. Some feel nothing while others get pain, some even feel an itchy or tickling sensation in the breasts. Common to all is that something feels different with the breasts.
(However, this change should not involve lumps in the breasts. If something feels different and it turns out that you were not pregnant, you should get it checked by a physician.)
8. Elevated body temperature
By measuring your body temperature regularly, you can in some cases find out what is happening in the body. Maybe you have heard of “contraceptive methods” that involve checking your temperature every morning.
During ovulation – which must take place before you become pregnant of course – the body temperature increases slightly. If the egg has then been fertilized, this elevated body temperature remains throughout the pregnancy.
As a pregnancy symptom, this basically only works if you already had close control of your body temperature before the pregnancy. From this small change, you can not feel “a little warmer”, or in any other way feel it without actually measuring your body temperature. So – if you usually keep track of your body temperature every morning and suddenly notice that it has increased, it could be a sign of pregnancy.
9. Mood swings
Mood swings, aka every husband’s favourites, are common throughout pregnancy but can be especially noticeable in the beginning. It does not have to be about you crying and laughing in the same sentence, but instead that you react differently from how you usually react to mondaine events and feelings. Of course, this is also due to the cascade of hormones that the body creates during this period.
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10. Having to urinate more often than usual
In the beginning of your pregnancy, you may need to urinate more often than usual.
You may have heard that the this symptom is also quite common during the late stage of the pregnancy. But in this case it is because the uterus presses against the bladder.
In early pregnancy however, it is often due to … (you guessed it right) … hormones. As you have already noticed, our hormones basically control everything in the body – and the bladder is also affected! Most commonly you will need to urinate more often, but it can also happen that you get a certain incontinence, meaning that you will leak a little when moving.
11. Low blood pressure / dizziness
When you get pregnant, a lot changes in the body – and blood flow is one of these things. The blood vessels in pregnant woman often dilate so that the blood can circulate more easily throughout the body. Unfortunately, this means that you will easily get a slightly lower blood pressure than usual.
This can be felt especially clearly when you stand up from sitting or lying down, then the slightly weaker blood pressure fails to pump up blood to the brain as fast as it should, and as a result you can easily feel a little dizzy. Light dizziness is common during the first part pregnancy.
12. A feeling of “being pregnant”
As strange as it may sound… many people’s first symptoms of their pregnancy are that they simply “feel” it. Many testify that they just simply knew and felt when they got pregnant. Of course, this is not super scientific or reliable and even your feelings towards the idea of getting pregnant can affect this feeling. Great anxiety can make you feel things that are not really there, but you should also not underestimate a woman’s gut feeling.
I think I’m pregnant, what do I do now?
Now you may have read these symptoms and suspect you are pregnant. The very first thing you need to do then is to do a pregnancy test. You can either buy a test in a grocery store, online or at a pharmacy.
If you can’t get hold of an instant pregnancy test, you can do a pregnancy test at a health center or a woman’s clinic. It is important to keep in mind that if you take one of those fast pregnancy tests, they can usually not detect a pregnancy during the first week after conception, but make sure to read more about your specific pregnancy test on the packaging and when in doubt do always look for help.
I hope this list of 12 early pregnancy symptoms has helped you get a little wiser about how your body is doing! If you have been pregnant and experienced some other early symptom, you are welcome to share it in the comments field.