While there is no way to entirely know if you are pregnant without a confirmed pregnancy test, there are several signs that you can begin to notice in the earliest stages of your pregnancy. Most of these changes are due to an increasing level of hormones. Some of these traits can be eerily similar to typical PMS symptoms. If you do not typically experience these symptoms during PMS and your period seems to be coming later than usual, there is a good chance you may be pregnant!
Early symptoms of pregnancy
- Fatigue: You begin to feel unexplainable and unusually extreme fatigue without exerting too much energy. Certain typical activities that once seemed like nothing now begin to feel like giant hurdles. Instead of trying to battle this fatigue with caffeine, try to stay well rested and take it easy!
- Food aversions: You open your fridge and the thought of eating last night’s leftovers makes you wince and gag. Out of nowhere it seems like the idea of foods you once loved make you sick to your stomach. On the other end of the spectrum, you may begin to crave certain foods at irregular times throughout the day.
- Sensitivity to smells: Like some sort of superhero, you begin to feel a heightened sense of smell. Different scents that you’ve smelled before, whether you enjoy them or not, begin to make you nauseous and sick to your stomach.
- Nausea and vomiting: Instead of springing out of your bed in the morning, you begin your day by hugging your toilet bowl and vomiting as if you’d partied like a rockstar the night before. Morning sickness, while not necessarily always in the morning, is a very common and early indicator of pregnancy. The good news is this sickness will only be around the earliest stages of your pregnancy and is likely to fade out by the end of the first trimester. In order to battle this it, try to eat smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day to ensure that your stomach is never too empty. It’s also good to have a small snack before bed. If you’re beginning to use prenatal vitamins, try to avoid taking them on an empty stomach.
- Breast swelling and tenderness: Your breasts may begin to swell and feel heavier. They begin to feel very tender to the touch and just putting on a bra feels like torture. You also may notice that the area around your nipples, or areola, begins to darken. In order to remedy this, try wearing either a sports or padded bra.
- Frequent urination: You may also start to notice that you’re taking more frequent trips to the restroom to pee. As the Uterus grows, it begins to push against the bladder in early pregnancy causing frequent urination. Always try to go to the bathroom before bed in order to get as much sleep as possible. It is not uncommon to wake up at least once in the middle of the night with the need to urinate.
- Shortness of breath: In addition to extreme fatigue, certain activities may begin to make you feel like you are out of breath and gasping for air. This is particularly common, as growing embryos need more oxygen in order to grow. As you go throughout your pregnancy, you may notice this shortness of breath to get more extreme. If you have a sudden shortness of breath unrelated to exercise, notice breathing becomes painful, or your breathing gets worse when you are lying down, you should consult a doctor.
- Physical changes: You may also begin to notice some physical changes to your body. If you begin to notice changes in your vagina’s color, see a physician for a pelvic exam. This is also accompanied by a softening of the cervix. It is important to look into these changes, as they are not just potential symptoms of a new pregnancy but also of other things such as premenstrual syndrome.
- Constipation: As hormones increase at an exponential rate, food may begin to move more slowly through your intestines. This may cause you to feel bloated and constipated. To battle this, make sure to get plenty of exercise, drink lots of water, and eat foods high in fiber.
- Mood swings: Things that used to be minor irritations start to feel like the beginning of World War III. High changes in hormone levels can cause sudden mood swings. Don’t stress over it, as these mood swings are extremely common in the first trimester.
- Headaches and back pain: It’s also quite common to notice headaches and sharp pain in your lower back. You can remedy these pains with over the counter acetaminophen. The back pain will only continue to get worse however as you gain weight and your center of gravity begins to change.
- Dizziness and fainting: You may also notice an uneasy dizzy feeling which in extreme cases can cause you to faint. This is caused by dilating blood vessels, lower blood sugar, and lower blood pressure so make sure to eat and drink plenty of water!
- Cramping and spotting: You might feel severe abdominal pain similar to when you begin your period. This cramping is not due to your period, but by your uterus stretching to get ready for a baby. You may also see some light spotting coming well before when you would expect your period.
- Elevated basal body temperature: An elevated basal body temperature (BBT) into the luteal phase may also be an early sign of pregnancy. The BBT typically stays elevated from the two weeks you are ovulating until you get your period. If it remains to stay at a high level after these two weeks, consider taking a pregnancy test.
- “Pregnancy Symptoms.” American Pregnancy Association. American Pregnancy Assocaition. June 29, 2018. http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/early-pregnancy-symptoms/