Pregnancy Symptom Detection: 10 Early Signs That You Might Be Pregnant
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Pregnancy Symptom Detection: 10 Early Signs That You Might Be Pregnant

So you think you might be pregnant - learn all about the earliest signs and symptoms of pregnancy and how to deal with common complaints!

"Am I pregnant?"

Most women have asked themselves this very question at one point in their lives. There are many telltale signs of early pregnancy - some more common than others. Before the proof comes from the missed period and positive result on a pregnancy test, consider these signs that happen within the first few weeks of pregnancy.

How early can you tell if you're pregnant?

Many women track their cycles based on their last menstrual period. If they take a test too early when they suspect they're pregnant, they might get a false negative result. The amount of HCG in the body can typically be picked up on a pregnancy test about 3-4 weeks after the first day of your last period, although you may notice symptoms of pregnancy earlier than this.

When Do Pregnancy Symptoms Start?

woman holding a picture of sonogram in KeaBabies frame

It can be difficult to know if you're pregnant, especially if you commonly experience an irregular menstrual cycle. However, there are many common symptoms and ailments that women experience during the first trimester that can give you a clue you might be expecting!

The most common pregnancy symptoms: 

sick young woman sitting on bed at home

Here are some of the most common early signs and symptoms of pregnancy:

Missed period.

Before you even think to buy a pregnancy test, you might wait until you miss a period. Of course, a missed/late period can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, a history of irregular cycles, or hormonal changes that come with age, but missing a period can be a good reason to take a home pregnancy test!

Painful or swollen breasts.

Early in a woman's pregnancy journey, big hormonal fluctuations might make her breasts sensitive and sore. This breast tenderness usually decreases after a few weeks as her body adjusts to hormonal changes that come with early pregnancy.

Nausea and vomiting.

One of the main reasons women buy pregnancy tests is because they experience sudden nausea and vomiting out of nowhere, not associated with an illness. Pregnancy nausea, called "morning sickness," can actually happen at all hours of the day and night, and can be one of the most telltale signs of pregnancy. Even though this is one of the most reported early symptoms that someone is pregnant, some women never experience morning sickness at all.

Some women feel nausea earlier than others. Nausea (or lack thereof) doesn't usually indicate a problem with the pregnancy, and thankfully, as the body regulates the hormone levels as the second trimester approaches, the nausea tends to subside.

Frequent urination.

If you find yourself peeing a lot more frequently than usual, this might be one of the first signs of pregnancy you experience. Because a woman's blood volume increases drastically during pregnancy, her kidneys have to process extra fluid which can cause increased urination.

Feeling exhausted.

Along with morning sickness, fatigue is one of the most widely reported early signs of pregnancy. If you feel tired no matter how much sleep you get, or find yourself suddenly nodding off at all hours of the day, it might be time to take a pregnancy test, especially if you've missed your period.

Pregnancy hormones might be to blame for the sudden exhaustion. Some researchers think that because pregnancy makes the hormone progesterone soar, this might account for the unexplained fatigue and tiredness.

Less common signs and symptoms of pregnancy: 

Lower Back Pain Pregnancy Pregnant Woman Sitting Bed Home

Here are some other signs and symptoms women report having during early pregnancy:

Moodiness or mood swings.

One of the lesser-known early pregnancy symptoms is mood swings - probably because mood swings are common during a woman's menstrual period as well. It can be hard to differentiate pregnancy mood swings and regular mood swings caused by tiredness, hormones, mental health issues, and other reasons.

The flood of hormones in a woman's body in early pregnancy can make her feel unusually moody and tearful. She might feel strong waves of emotions, cry during random circumstances, or get irrationally angry about small problems. If you have mood swings and have a missed period, it's time to take a pregnancy test.

Bloating and gas.

Intense hormonal changes during early pregnancy can cause a woman to feel bloated, similar to how she might feel at the start of her menstrual period. Even if you take the time to maintain a healthy diet, bloating and indigestion can be symptoms of pregnancy.

Light spotting.

Light spotting can occur during pregnancy. Spotting in early pregnancy is known as implantation bleeding, which occurs when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus (about 10 to 14 days after conception). Implantation bleeding and spotting might occur around the time you would expect to have a menstrual period. If you experience spotting instead of a typical period, it might be worth taking a home pregnancy test.

When implantation bleeding occurs, some women write it off as a light period. But in combination with other symptoms of early pregnancy, this light bleeding or spotting can be due to pregnancy.

Not all women experience implantation bleeding. Bleeding of any kind during pregnancy can be harmless or a sign that something more serious is going on, so it is important to consult with your doctor if you notice bleeding in the first trimester.

Soreness and cramping.

Some people experience mild uterine cramping early on in pregnancy. Although this is considered one of the early signs of pregnancy, cramping is also associated with getting your period. It can be difficult to tell whether cramping or pain in the uterus is due to pregnancy or a woman's normal cycle.


Pregnancy hormonal changes during pregnancy cause the digestive system to slow down, which can lead to constipation. Many other factors can cause constipation, too, but if constipation is accompanied by things like a missed period, bloating, exhaustion, or cravings for certain foods, it might be time to take an at-home pregnancy test.

Food aversions.

Everyone is familiar with the fact that pregnant women crave certain foods. However, when you're pregnant, you might develop a sensitivity to certain food odors and tastes. Like most other pregnancy symptoms, these food aversions are probably due to hormonal changes. Food cravings and aversions can definitely be early pregnancy signs.

A stuffy nose.

Fluctuating hormones and increased blood production in the first trimester can cause the mucous membranes in a pregnant woman's nose to swell and bleed easily. This might cause her to feel like she constantly has a stuffy or runny nose. The blood vessels in the nose become swollen and irritated, although this can be mistaken for allergies or illness instead of a pregnancy symptom.

Can you experience early pregnancy signs and not be pregnant?

From having an irregular menstrual cycle, to light vaginal bleeding, to mood changes, to random nausea and exhaustion, premenstrual symptoms can often mimic early pregnancy symptoms. What might seem like a definitely early sign of pregnancy might be signs that your expected menstrual cycle is coming soon. If you get a negative test after you expect to start to period, wait a few days and test again.

The next step: see your women's health care provider. 

Pregnant woman with backache

If you've missed a period and are experiencing any of these early symptoms of pregnancy, it is time to book an appointment with your healthcare provider. From nausea, to breast tenderness, to light bleeding, and other symptoms, it's important to seek medical care in the early stages of pregnancy to ensure that you and your baby can remain healthy as the pregnancy progresses!

Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez

I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.

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