Pregnancy symptoms differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy; however, one of the most significant pregnancy symptoms is a delayed or missed period.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of pregnancy is important because each symptom may be related to something other than pregnancy. You may experience signs or symptoms of pregnancy within a week of conception. However, it is possible you may not experience any symptoms for a few weeks.
Symptoms to watch for early on include a missed period, headaches, tender breasts, nausea and lower backaches. If you have been sexually active and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to take a pregnancy test. Read more below about symptoms along with explanations of what else it could be.
Spotting or Light Bleeding:
Implantation bleeding can be one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms. About 6-12 days after conception, the embryo implants itself into the uterine wall. Some women will experience spotting as well as some cramping.
Other Explanations: Actual menstruation, altered menstruation, changes in birth control pill, infection, or abrasion from intercourse.
Delay/Difference in Menstruation:
A delayed or missed period is the most common pregnancy symptom leading a woman to test for pregnancy. When you become pregnant, your next period should be missed. Many women can bleed while they are pregnant, but typically the bleeding will be shorter or lighter than a normal period.
Other Explanations: Excessive weight gain/loss, fatigue, hormonal problems, tension, stress, ceasing to take the birth control pill, illness or breastfeeding.
Swollen or tender breasts are a pregnancy symptom which may begin as early as 1-2 weeks after conception. Women may notice changes in their breasts; they may be tender to the touch, sore, or swollen.
Other Explanations: Hormonal imbalance, birth control pills, impending menstruation (PMS) can also cause your breasts to be swollen or tender.
“Extreme, unexplainable fatigue is probably the most common sign of early pregnancy,” says Gil Gross, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“Don’t treat fatigue with excessive caffeine if there is a chance you may be pregnant.” Instead, “listen to your body, take it easy, and try to keep well-rested,” says Donnica Moore, MD, a women’s health expert in Far Hills, N.J.
Feeling fatigued or more tired is a pregnancy symptom which can also start as early as the first week after conception.
Other Explanations: Stress, exhaustion, depression, common cold or flu, or other illnesses can also leave you feeling tired or fatigued.
This well-known pregnancy symptom will often show up between 2-8 weeks after conception. Some women are fortunate to not deal with morning sickness at all, while others will feel nauseous throughout most of their pregnancy.
Other Explanations: Food poisoning, stress, change in hormonal birth control method or other stomach disorders can also cause you to feel queasy.
Sensitivity to smells:
Scents that were never pleasant (like cigarette smoke) and even ones that were pleasing (like your partner’s cologne) can also make you queasy during pregnancy’s early stages. “For some women, this can be a tip-off that they are expecting,” Moore says. This is likely a result of rising hormone levels. Unfortunately, “there is really nothing you can do except avoid them where you can,” she says, “especially cigarette smoke, which is not good for you or the baby.”
Lower backaches may be a symptom that occurs early in pregnancy; however, it is common to experience a dull backache throughout pregnancy.
Other Explanations: Impending menstruation, stress, other back problems, and physical or mental strains.
The sudden rise of hormones in your body can cause you to have headaches early in pregnancy.
Other Explanations: Dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, impending menstruation, eye strain, or other ailments can be the source of frequent or chronic headaches.
Around 6-8 weeks after conception, you may find yourself making a few extra trips to the bathroom.
Other Explanations: Urinary tract infection, diabetes, increasing liquid intake, or taking excessive diuretics.
Darkening of Areolas:
If you are pregnant, the skin around your nipples may get darker.
Other Explanations: Hormonal imbalance unrelated to pregnancy or may be a leftover effect from a previous pregnancy.
Food Cravings or Food Aversions:
While you may not have a strong desire to eat pickles and ice cream, many women will feel cravings for certain foods when they are pregnant. This can last throughout your entire pregnancy. Some women develop adversions to certain types of food early in pregnancy and this too can last for the next 9 months.
Other Explanations: Poor diet, lack of a certain nutrient, stress, depression, illness or impending menstruation.