What discomforts could actually be early signs of pregnancy? Whether you are trying to become pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy, knowing what signs to look for is important. Of course a positive pregnancy test is more reliable, but some of these signs of pregnancy before a missed period can clue you in before you take a pregnancy test.
When trying to become pregnant every twinge or cramp will make you wonder- could this be a sign? Sometimes wanting to be pregnant can make you imagine you are experiencing early signs of pregnancy. Hopefully explaining some of these signs below will help you distinguish if this is really pregnancy.
10 Early Signs of Pregnancy
Nausea and vomiting are among the most well-known early signs of pregnancy. A rise in the hormone, hCG, causes the sensation of nausea. This is your body’s way of protecting the pregnancy from toxins. The early days of pregnancy are a vulnerable time. The pregnancy can be affected by alcohol, tobacco and rancid food.
Your body experiences nausea to encourage you to avoid strong smells, often associated with toxic foods.
Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy peak at 10 weeks, however you can begin to experience nausea as early as 2 weeks following ovulation, or around the time of your first missed period.
#2 Food aversions
Food aversions are similar to nausea in their purpose. The brain triggers you to avoid certain smells and tastes to avoid toxic foods. However, sometimes the brain miscalculates and causes you to dislike safe foods as well. Typical food aversions include things with distinct smells such as meat, fish and coffee. Food aversions can begin with nausea. They can change, stop or last through the duration of pregnancy.
#3 Missed Periods
I’m sure you are thinking- well duh! But this one isn’t so obvious. You could miss your period and not be pregnant. Some women experience months without any bleeding. This is common for women with PCOS for example. Some months your period may be late due to stress, illness or travel. If your period is late, take a pregnancy test and then repeat every day until your period occurs. It is best to take a pregnancy test first thing in the morning for best results.
You could experience bleeding and be pregnant.
In fact, spotting is one of the signs of pregnancy. This spotting is called implantation spotting and occurs when the egg burrows into the uterus. You can experience implantation bleeding around the same time you would expect your period and you may confuse it with your period. However, implantation bleeding tends to be pink or brown, lighter and occurs a couple days before your period is due. To find out more about bleeding and pregnancy, check out my article “Can You Get Your Period and Still Be Pregnant?”
Cramping can also be a sign of pregnancy. When the egg burrows into the uterine lining it can cause cramping. This can easily be confused with cramping associated with your period. Implantation cramping is typically less severe than menstrual cramps.
It is important to avoid ibuprofen whenever experiencing cramps. Ibuprofen is not safe during pregnancy and is associated with decreased fertility. For information on safe treatments of menstrual cramps and implantation cramps, check out my article “6 Remedies for Menstrual Cramps when TTC”.
#6 Breast Tenderness
Breast tenderness can begin as early as the time of implantation, which unfortunately aligns with your first missed period. This makes it difficult to distinguish from normal breast tenderness associated with your period. The breast tenderness experienced in pregnancy is due to a process called mammogenesis, which is the process where the breast tissue grows and proliferates. This prepares the breast to produce and store milk.
It is difficult to distinguish breast tenderness indicating pregnancy from breast tenderness associated with your monthly menstrual period. Normally, women who experience breast tenderness with their period experience it with every period. If this breast tenderness feels different than it could be one of the signs of pregnancy.
#7 Peeing all the time
Ask anyone you know who is pregnant- pregnant women constantly have to pee. In early pregnancy the pregnancy hormone, hCG, causes an increase in blow flow to your pelvic organs, including your bladder. This makes you feel like you need to urinate more frequently.
Despite this sensation, it is important to stay well hydrated. Hydration is crucial for a healthy pregnancy.
It is important to distinguish frequent urination associated with pregnancy from a urinary tract infection (UTI). If urination is painful, if your urine is fowl smelling or if you experience a fever, chills or back pain you may have a UTI or even a kidney infection. However if your only symptom is that you are waking up in the middle of the night to pee and peeing frequently throughout the day, it could be another sign of pregnancy.
Fatigue is a real sign of pregnancy.
This can be caused by an increase in blow flow toward your pelvic organs (and uterus) and away from the rest of your body. Fatigue is also caused by an increase in the hormone progesterone. This feeling of exhaustion allows you to rest and conserve energy for the start of pregnancy.
That does not mean you need to slow down your lifestyle. It just means you should be aware that falling asleep at 9pm or taking an unexpected midday nap could just be another one of the signs of pregnancy.
#9 Mood swings
Mood swings can be a sign that your monthly period is coming or it could be an early sign of pregnancy. Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone cause mood swings in pregnancy and with your period. These mood swings are most common in early pregnancy, peaking between 6 and 8 weeks. Mood swings can result in episodes of crying, anger and extreme happiness.
When I hear a woman is suffering from headaches my first instinct is to encourage her to hydrate. A large portion of headaches are caused or exacerbated by dehydration. But if you have rehydrated and you are still experiencing headaches it is possibly a sign that you may be pregnant.
The exact cause of headaches isn’t so straightforward. It is likely the result of a mixture of factors. These factors include a change in hormone levels, an increase in blood volume and a complication of dehydration. Vomiting in early pregnancy can lead to dehydration which can exacerbate headaches. Additionally, many women stop caffeine around this time and experience withdrawal headaches.
No matter the cause of the headache is it important to be aware of the risks of treatments. My first line treatment is always hydration. Drink lots of water. If water does not resolve your headache try hot and cold compresses. Try to avoid taking ibuprofen or Tylenol as these medications are associated with risks in pregnancy. It is safer to drink a small amount of caffeine to see if caffeine will help alleviate your headache. If you have recurrent debilitating headaches (or migraines) you should see your doctor.