First Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms

Signs of Pregnancy: 12 Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Pregnancy Hormones

Being aware of early pregnancy symptoms can help you determine if it’s time to take a pregnancy test. From common signs like a missed period and morning sickness to less common symptoms like implantation bleeding, we’ll look at the wide range of experiences women go on during early pregnancy. Our guide will help you understand the hormonal changes that cause these symptoms and how to recognize them.

We’ll also discuss the roles of specific hormones in causing these symptoms and the importance of seeking medical advice and prenatal care if you suspect you’re pregnant.

Recognizing Early Pregnancy Symptoms

A pregnant woman holding her belly, showing early pregnancy symptoms

Recognizing signs of pregnancy can be important so that you can  determine if you are pregnant. Some women experience symptoms within a week after conception, while others might not notice anything until they miss their period. Hormonal changes play a significant role in causing these symptoms and can vary greatly between individuals.

The following subsections will explore common early symptoms of pregnancy such as:

  • missed periods
  • morning sickness
  • breast changes
  • fatigue

We’ll also discuss some less common symptoms that may still indicate pregnancy. By understanding these symptoms and their causes, you’ll be better equipped to recognize the signs of pregnancy and seek appropriate medical care.

Missed Period

A missed period is often the first noticeable sign of pregnancy, but it can also be caused by stress, weight gain or loss, or hormonal imbalances. Most women experience their first pregnancy symptom as a missed period. If you’ve missed your expected menstrual cycle, it might be time to consider other early signs of pregnancy and take a pregnancy test to confirm your suspicions.

However, keep in mind that a missed period is not always an indication of pregnancy. Factors such as stress, significant weight changes, and even breastfeeding can cause a missed period. If you’re experiencing a missed period along with other early symptoms of pregnancy, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper guidance and evaluation.

Morning Sickness and Nausea

Morning sickness and nausea are common early symptoms of pregnancy that can begin as early as two weeks into pregnancy. Many women report feeling nauseous, experiencing indigestion, and having a heightened sense of smell when pregnancy symptoms start during early pregnancy. These symptoms can be triggered by hormonal changes, particularly the increased levels of progesterone, estrogen, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

While morning sickness is often associated with the first trimester, some women may continue to experience nausea throughout their pregnancy. Hormonal changes during early pregnancy can slow down the emptying of the stomach, causing early symptoms such as morning sickness and nausea. This can be particularly challenging for women who feel nauseous earlier in their pregnancy or experience more severe symptoms.

There are safe treatment options available to help alleviate pregnancy-related nausea. If you’re struggling with morning sickness, it’s essential to discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider to find the most appropriate treatment plan for you. Remember, every pregnancy is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Breast Changes & Soreness

A pregnant woman with swollen breasts, showing breast changes and soreness

Breast changes, such as tenderness, swelling, and darkening of the areolas, can be an early indication of pregnancy due to increased estrogen and progesterone levels. These breast changes typically start a few days before a woman misses her menstrual period and can be one of the first signs of pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the body prepares for breastfeeding, which can cause breast tenderness and swelling. Pregnancy-related breast tenderness and swelling are usually more intense than period-related breast tenderness and last longer. Additionally, the areolas may get larger and darker in the early stages of pregnancy, with some women noticing these changes early on along with other symptoms.

Frequent Urination

Frequent urination is a common symptom in early pregnancy, caused by hormonal changes and increased blood flow. The hormones hCG and progesterone play a role in increasing blood flow and causing frequent urination during pregnancy.

While it may be inconvenient, frequent urination is a normal part of early pregnancy and serves as one of the most common early signs of pregnancy.


Fatigue is a common early pregnancy symptom that can be attributed to the energy required to build the placenta and the increased progesterone levels. During early pregnancy, the body needs extra energy to support the growing fetus and build the placenta, which can cause feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Additionally, the hormone progesterone increases significantly in the first trimester, contributing to feelings of fatigue.

If you’re experiencing fatigue during early pregnancy, it’s essential to listen to your body and allow yourself time to rest. It’s also important to maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated to support your body during this time of increased energy demands.


Bloating and constipation are common early pregnancy symptoms that can occur as a result of hormonal changes slowing down digestion. The hormone progesterone is responsible for bloating in early pregnancy, as it slows down digestion and gives your baby more time to absorb nutrients. It also causes constipation, as it relaxes the smooth muscles in your digestive tract.

To help alleviate bloating and constipation during early pregnancy, it’s important to consume an adequate amount of fiber and stay hydrated. While these symptoms can be uncomfortable, they are a normal part of early pregnancy and may persist throughout the pregnancy.

Mood Swings

Mood swings are common in early pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations and can persist throughout the pregnancy. The sudden surge of estrogen and progesterone during early pregnancy can lead to mood changes, with mood swings starting as early as four weeks into pregnancy.

If you’re experiencing mood swings during pregnancy, it’s important to:

  • Communicate with your healthcare provider
  • Seek support from friends and family
  • In some cases, consult a mental health professional to help manage your emotions during this time.


Cramping in early pregnancy can be similar to menstrual cramps, but is usually lighter and shorter in duration. This early pregnancy symptom can be caused by the fertilized egg attaching to the uterine wall, known as implantation cramping. Implantation cramping is typically less intense and shorter than a regular period, lasting just a day or two.

If you’re experiencing cramping along with other early pregnancy symptoms, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if you may be pregnant.

Hormonal Effects on Pregnancy Symptoms

A pregnant woman with a pregnancy test, showing how to take a home pregnancy test

Hormonal changes play a significant role in early signs of pregnancy, with hCG, progesterone, and estrogen levels all affecting the body in various ways. These hormones are responsible for many of the early symptoms of pregnancy, such as breast tenderness, bloating, and mood swings.

hCG Levels

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone produced during pregnancy, made initially by the embryo and later by the placenta. hCG levels rise during early pregnancy and can be detected through blood tests and home pregnancy tests. This hormone is responsible for:

  • keeping the uterine lining intact during pregnancy
  • supporting the production of progesterone, which is essential for maintaining a healthy pregnancy
  • stimulating the growth of the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone
  • preventing the breakdown of the corpus luteum, ensuring a steady supply of progesterone throughout pregnancy

hCG is the hormone detected when you take a positive pregnancy test.

If you suspect you may be pregnant, it’s important to take a home pregnancy test at the appropriate time to ensure accurate results. Home pregnancy tests are 90% accurate if taken when your period is due, and 99% accurate if taken a week later. Blood tests can detect pregnancy even earlier, providing more certainty if you’re experiencing early symptoms of pregnancy.

Progesterone and Estrogen

Progesterone and estrogen are pregnancy hormones that increase during pregnancy. Progesterone is essential for a healthy pregnancy and regulating the menstrual cycle, while estrogen helps with breast tissue growth, milk flow during breastfeeding, and preventing high blood pressure.

As progesterone and estrogen levels rise during pregnancy, they can cause various symptoms such as breast changes, bloating, and mood swings. Being aware of these hormonal changes and their effects on your body can help you better understand and manage your early symptoms of pregnancy as your pregnancy progresses.

Uncommon Early Pregnancy Signs

A pregnant woman with a pregnancy test, showing how to take a home pregnancy test

While some early symptoms are more common, there are also less common signs that can still indicate pregnancy. In the following subsections, we’ll explore some of these uncommon early pregnancy signs, such as implantation bleeding, food aversions or cravings, and increased salivation.

Although not experienced by every pregnant woman, these symptoms can still provide valuable insight into the possibility of pregnancy.

Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding is a less common early pregnancy sign that can occur when the embryo attaches to the uterine wall, presenting as light spotting or bleeding. This type of bleeding usually happens 10 to 14 days after conception, right before or around the time your period is due.

Implantation bleeding is typically lighter in flow and color than period bleeding, lasting just a day or two. If you’re experiencing light bleeding along with other early signs, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if you may be pregnant.

Food Aversions and Cravings

Food aversions and cravings can be triggered by hormonal changes and a heightened sense of smell during early pregnancy. These uncommon early pregnancy signs can be intense, with the thought, sight, or smell of certain foods causing nausea or cravings. Food aversions and cravings typically show up during the first trimester.

While these symptoms can be challenging to deal with, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet and provide your body with the nutrients it needs during pregnancy. If you’re struggling with food aversions or cravings, consult with your healthcare provider to discuss potential dietary changes and support.

Increased Salivation

Increased salivation, or ptyalism gravidarum, may occur in early pregnancy as a protective mechanism against stomach acid. This less common symptom is caused by higher levels of hormones in the body during pregnancy and can be particularly bothersome for some women.

If you’re experiencing increased salivation along with other early signs of pregnancy, it’s essential to discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider for proper guidance and evaluation.

Taking a Home Pregnancy Test

An image of a home pregnancy test kit with clear instructions for accurate results, helpful for women experiencing pregnancy symptoms

If you’re experiencing early pregnancy symptoms and suspect that you may be pregnant, it’s important to take a home pregnancy test to confirm your suspicions. Home pregnancy tests rely on the detection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. This hormone is produced during pregnancy and can show up in your urine about a week after conception. For the most accurate results, it’s best to wait at least a week after you’ve missed your period before taking a home pregnancy test.

If your home pregnancy test results are negative but your period is late, it’s essential to check in with your healthcare provider and get a blood test to confirm your pregnancy status. Blood tests can detect pregnancy earlier than home pregnancy tests, providing more certainty.

Seeking Medical Advice and Prenatal Care

If you suspect you may be pregnant based on your early pregnancy symptoms, it’s crucial to seek medical advice and begin prenatal care as soon as possible. Early prenatal care ensures that you receive the best care possible throughout your pregnancy and helps your healthcare provider monitor your health and the health of your developing baby.

During your first prenatal appointment, you’ll receive a physical exam and various tests to ensure everything is progressing as expected. If you’re experiencing mood swings or other emotional challenges during your pregnancy, it’s important to communicate with your healthcare provider and, if necessary, seek support from a mental health professional.

Prioritizing your health and well-being during pregnancy is essential for both you and your baby.

10 Frequently Asked Questions

How early do pregnancy signs start?

Pregnancy symptoms can start as early as one to two weeks after conception, though some women may not experience any signs until a few months into their pregnancy.

It’s important to note that each woman’s body is different and may respond differently to pregnancy.

Can I exercise while pregnant?

Generally, it’s safe to exercise during pregnancy if you’re healthy and your doctor approves. Avoid intense activities and consult your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.

How much weight gain is normal during pregnancy?

Weight gain during pregnancy varies from person to person, but typically you can expect to gain around 25-35 pounds. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations.

When should I seek medical advice if I suspect I’m pregnant?

It’s essential to seek medical advice and begin prenatal care as soon as you suspect you may be pregnant to ensure the best care possible for you and your baby.

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