Did you know? By the time you miss your period, you would have already covered a few weeks in your pregnancy. You get pregnant once the egg fertilizes and implants in the uterus. And this event happens way before you miss your period.
But can you know that you are pregnant even before the missed period? Yes, you can, because your body must have already been preparing for the next nine months. MomJunction tells you about these interesting early symptoms of pregnancy and what you can do at this time around.
Early Symptoms Of Pregnancy Before Missed Period:
A missed period is the most prominent sign of pregnancy. But the body begins to indicate you about your pregnancy even before your menstrual date. Here are some such symptoms:
1. Implantation bleeding and cramping:Sponsored
If you had unprotected sex around the ovulation time i.e., your fertile window, there is a possibility of you getting pregnant. You will experience menstrual cramps, light spotting or bleeding before a week or two of your missed period. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, but if they occur, they could be the very early signs of pregnancy.
Implantation takes place when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. It occurs around six to ten days after ovulation. If your cycle is regular (i.e., 28-day cycle), you will experience implantation bleeding and cramping in the third week (i.e., around days 20 to 24), a week or so before the missed period (1).
Implantation bleeding is light as you may observe just a few drops of blood in your underwear or while wiping your vagina. It may last for some hours or several days. Heavy bleeding could be a sign of miscarriage or a period.
2. Elevated basal body temperature:
One of the earliest signs of pregnancy, basal body temperature (BBT) is more accurate than the others. But you can figure out the change only if you track BBT for several months.
A couple of weeks before ovulation, your basal body temperature may be around 97.2 to 97.7°F. It is the average BBT in the pre-ovulation state (2). One to two days after ovulation, your BBT will increase from 0.4 to 1°. It decreases after you complete your period. But in pregnancy, the BBT remains elevated.
The BBT changes are subtle and you will be able to observe a change in them after you track it every day for a few months.
3. Sore, tender and heavy breasts:
Breast changes are also early signs of pregnancy. The moment you conceive, hormones send signals to the breasts to get ready in 40 weeks.
Initially, the blood vessels present in the breasts dilate and start growing. Your breasts will thus become larger and the areolas, the dark colored circles on the nipples, also become bigger and darker. You can notice the breast changes in a week or two after conceiving. You may feel them tingly, swollen, and sore to touch. You will also feel uncomfortable and cumbersome. These signs may be similar to those of PMS, but they are worse during pregnancy. If your period is late and you observe the breast changes along with other symptoms, you should take a pregnancy test (3).
[ Read: Sore Breasts During Pregnancy ]
Fatigue without a reason may also be an early symptom of pregnancy. A spike in the levels of progesterone hormone can make you tired and sleepy all the time. Additionally, as the body begins to produce more blood to support your fetus’ growth, you will feel exhausted, especially if you don’t get enough minerals, vitamins, iron, and fluids in your diet.
If you are pregnant, you should begin taking prenatal vitamins every day. Do not take caffeine and associated products. Sleep well to fight fatigue.
As fatigue can also be due to health issues like anemia, hypothyroidism, etc., you cannot assume that you are pregnant by this symptom alone.
Nausea or morning sickness is a classic sign of pregnancy that you can notice in the early stages. It will afflict you in the initial weeks of missed period even before your pregnancy is confirmed. You will feel dizzy, weak, and may want to throw up at times.
Though you may feel nauseous at any time of the day, the early mornings would be the worse. About 75% of women experience morning sickness, but the severity may vary from one woman to another, and with each pregnancy. The condition may be worse in your first pregnancy, but may subside with the eventual ones.
The hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) elevates in the early stages causing nausea.
Nausea usually subsides after your first trimester, but sometimes it may last through the nine months. In some women, morning sickness will not set in until the sixth week, whereas in others, it starts early.
6. Bloating and feeling of tightness:
Your tummy may protrude, your pants may be tight, and you might need to unbutton to breathe easily. You may look like pregnant even if your fetus is tiny, or just a ball of cells (blastocyst).
A heavy or bloated feeling in the stomach is the most uncomfortable and a common symptom of pregnancy before missed periods. Bloating could be followed by farts and burps because of the progesterone hormone, which retards your digestion. To get relief from bloating, eat small portions through the day for easy digestion. Avoid fried and fatty foods, and choose healthy foods.
Symptoms in short:
Implantation bleeding: If you have a regular menstrual cycle of 28 days, you may experience implantation bleeding and cramping around days 20 to 24, i.e., in the third week.
Basal body temperature: BBT usually raises during the menstrual cycle, but in pregnancy, the temperature elevates.
Sore, tender and heavy breasts: You will start to notice changes in breasts around one to two weeks after conception.
Fatigue: Progesterone levels spike during early stages of pregnancy, therefore causing tiredness and sleepiness.
Nausea: You will start feeling nauseous in the first weeks of a missed period though your pregnancy is not confirmed.
Bloating: You will experience heavy or bloated feeling before a missed period, and it may be due to progesterone hormone.
Urge to pee: You may feel the urge to pee soon after you miss your period, and it is a typical sign of pregnancy.
Food aversions: Nearly 85% of women develop aversion to food in their first trimester.
Dizziness: Dizziness is quite normal during early pregnancy stages, and it happens due to reduced blood pressure caused by dilated blood vessels.
Mood swings: Pregnancy hormones also affect neurotransmitters in the brain which may cause mood swings in the early stages of pregnancy.
7. Urge to pee:
Having the urge to pee is a normal pregnancy symptom that you may get as soon as you have missed your period. You may frequently have the urge to pee especially during the night. After you conceive, many hormonal changes occur and there is an extra production of blood, which causes frequent urination during pregnancy. The kidneys work to filter more blood filling up the bladder, causing you to pee frequently.
8. Food aversions:
You may not feel like having your favorite foods, and their smell or taste might make you nauseous. About 85% of pregnant women experience food aversions during their first trimester. Most of them come back to their normal appetite by their second or third trimesters, but for some, food aversions may last through the entire pregnancy.
There is no solid evidence on why the aversion occurs due to the smell, but it is believed that it could be due to the elevated levels of progesterone.
Dizziness and lightheadedness are also early symptoms of pregnancy, caused by low blood pressure. In your first trimester, it is normal to experience dizziness as the blood vessels dilate, reducing the blood pressure. The blood pressure gets back to normal during the second trimester.
Being dizzy without any other symptoms is normal, but if it is accompanied with vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain, it can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, which is a serious complication.
10. Mood swings:
Mood swings are also due to hormonal changes. The variations in the hormone levels affect neurotransmitters of the brain, which cause enhanced emotions, from spells of weeping to sudden anger outbursts. Trying to relax, getting some rest, or talking to someone or your partner, would help people around you understand your situation.
[ Read: Mood Swings During Pregnancy ]
Hormonal changes, especially the elevated progesterone levels, can affect your digestive system. Your bowel movements get harder as the hormones cause the food to pass slowly along the digestive system. If you feel constipated regularly, you should consider taking a home pregnancy test (4).
12. Headaches and backaches:
Low blood sugar levels cause headaches as the brain cells try to cope up with the lower levels of sugar supply. If you have frequent headaches, then it could mean that female sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone are working to prepare the womb for the baby (5).
You could also experience lower back pain as your ligaments loosen up while your body prepares to carry the weight of the baby. Implantation cramping, bloating, and constipation can all cause backaches during early pregnancy. You can ask your doctor for some medicines, but never try self-medication during pregnancy. Also, it is important to understand and pay attention to your sleeping positions at night.
It is not a common symptom but affects some women in their early pregnancy. Some women may produce excessive saliva before they conceive. This condition during pregnancy is known as ptyalism gravidarum.
The excess saliva production is related to heartburn and morning sickness. Women suffering from nausea do not feel like swallowing, thus building up extra liquid in the mouth. Also, if you are suffering from heartburn, you may have excess acids and hence the production of saliva increases to fight the heartburn. Saliva is usually alkaline in nature and helps to neutralize the acids in your body.
14. Metallic taste in the mouth:
You may experience a metallic taste in your mouth along with a strong aversion to a few odors. Some women may have a lingering metallic taste all day long. Though the actual cause is unknown, a few experts say that it might be due to fluctuating hormonal levels. Some women may suffer from this all through the pregnancy while for some it disappears soon after the first trimester.
15. Excessive thirst:
Early stages of pregnancy make women feel thirsty often due to the increase in the blood volume. It, therefore, causes frequent urination that in turn will make you feel thirsty again!
16. Lack of appetite:
Due to nausea and vomiting, your appetite will be at its lowest ebb. You will have hunger pangs and strong cravings for foods like pickles. However, your appetite is on the downward slope, and may improve in the later stages of pregnancy.
You can smell lavender essential oil since this helps in curbing nausea. You can also have lavender shortbread biscuits to reduce nausea and increase your appetite. Reducing stress improves appetite to a great extent.
17. Shortness of breath:
You may begin having shortness of breath in the first few weeks of pregnancy since your body requires more oxygen and blood to share with the growing fetus. It continues throughout pregnancy as the baby grows and the need for oxygen and nutrients.
Having an exercise routine, sitting in a proper posture, taking slow deep breaths, wearing loose clothes, etc., should help in regulating your breath.
Certain symptoms of pregnancy may be due to other medical conditions. The symptoms that are discussed above may not always conclude that you are pregnant. They are only the indicators of your pregnancy. Your pregnancy can be confirmed only when you miss periods, and the test kit shows a positive result.
What Can You Do Now?
If you experience these signs of pregnancy before missed periods, you may assume that you are pregnant. But sometimes, these symptoms could just be premenstrual symptoms or an indication of other health issues. Hence, wait until one or two weeks after you miss your period, and then go for a home pregnancy test.
If you take the test early, you might get a negative result as the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG) levels are still low. You need to wait till the HCG hormone level increase and do the test again. If it still shows negative, blood tests can help.
[ Read: Cryptic Pregnancy ]
Blood tests will give you precise results, but they may not be accurate in the early stages. Therefore, you need for a few weeks after missing your period for the tests to confirm your pregnancy. Meanwhile, you may begin with your prenatal care:
- Get enough sleep, eat more and drink often.
- Take adequate vitamins and minerals including folic acid and iron.
- Quit smoking and alcohol; avoid unhealthy foods, over-the-counter medications and illegal substances.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How soon can you feel pregnancy symptoms?
You are most likely to feel the pregnancy symptoms within 14 days of conception that is around your period.
2. What can cause a late period?
Late periods happen for many reasons, including hormonal changes, excessive weight gain or weight loss, eating disorders (anorexia or bulimia), stress, polycystic ovary syndrome, travel, thyroid, birth control pills or drug use.
3. Can you miss a period and not be pregnant?
Yes, there are several reasons other than pregnancy, for a missed period.
4. How many days does it take to get pregnancy symptoms?
It takes about 6 to 14 days after conception to get earliest pregnancy symptoms.
Right from the day you have sex during ovulation period, your body is in the process of developing a new life inside you. You get pregnant when implantation happens. It means you are pregnant around ten days before your period due date. But tests give a precise result of your pregnancy a week or two after your missed period as the pregnancy hormone hCG must have raised to reasonable levels by then.
How did you find out that you are pregnant? Tell us in the comments section below!
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