The earliest symptoms of pregnancy can appear in the first few weeks after conception. Here's what you might experience, from nausea and tender breasts to dizziness and mood swings.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Could you be pregnant? The proof is in the pregnancy test. But even before you miss a period, you might suspect — or hope — that you're pregnant. For some women, early signs and symptoms of pregnancy begin in the first few weeks after conception. Know the first signs of pregnancy.
In addition to a missed period, the earliest signs and symptoms of pregnancy might include:
- Tender, swollen breasts. Early in pregnancy hormonal changes might make your breasts tender, sensitive or sore. Or your breasts might feel fuller and heavier.
- Nausea with or without vomiting. Morning sickness, which can strike at any time of the day or night, sometimes begins as early as three weeks after conception. While the cause of nausea during pregnancy isn't clear, pregnancy hormones likely play a role. Pregnant women might also find that smells that never bothered them before now cause nausea.
- Increased urination. You might find yourself urinating more often than usual.
- Fatigue. Fatigue also ranks high among early symptoms of pregnancy. During early pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone soar — which can make you feel sleepy.
- Food aversions or cravings. When you're pregnant, you might find yourself turning up your nose at certain foods. Food cravings are common, too. Like most other symptoms of pregnancy, these food preferences can be chalked up to hormonal changes.
Sometimes symptoms of pregnancy are less familiar or obvious. If you're pregnant, you might experience:
- Slight bleeding. Sometimes a small amount of spotting or vaginal bleeding is one of the first signs of pregnancy. Known as implantation bleeding, it happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus — about 10 to 14 days after conception. Implantation bleeding generally lasts for a short time and occurs around the time of a menstrual period. However, implantation bleeding is usually much lighter than menstrual bleeding.
- Cramping. Some women experience mild uterine cramping early in pregnancy.
- Mood swings. The flood of hormones in your body in early pregnancy can make you unusually emotional and weepy. Mood swings also are common.
- Dizziness. Pregnancy causes your blood vessels to dilate and your blood pressure to drop. As a result, you might find yourself feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
- Constipation. Hormonal changes cause your digestive system to slow down, which can lead to constipation.
In addition, your basal body temperature — your temperature when you first wake up in the morning — might provide an early clue about pregnancy. Basal body temperature increases slightly soon after ovulation and remains at that level until your next period. If you've been charting your basal body temperature to determine when you ovulate, its continued elevation for more than two weeks could mean that you're pregnant.
Unfortunately, these signs and symptoms aren't unique to pregnancy. Some can indicate that you're getting sick or that your period is about to start. Likewise, you can be pregnant without experiencing any of these signs and symptoms.
Still, if you miss a period or notice any of the tip-offs on these lists, you might want to take a home pregnancy test — especially if you're not keeping track of your menstrual cycle or if it varies widely from one month to the next. If your home pregnancy test is positive, make an appointment with your health care provider. The sooner your pregnancy is confirmed, the sooner you can begin prenatal care.
July 12, 2013
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