Fetal development

13 early signs of pregnancy

How can you tell if your are pregnant, and how early? Read these 13 early signs of pregnancy and get a nice infographic.

If you’re tired of protection and want to get pregnant, chances are you’re eager to get some good news. If that is the case, read on and learn about some very early signs of pregnancy.

How soon can you experience symptoms of pregnancy?

The very early signs of pregnancy appear a few days after conception, or one or two weeks before your scheduled upcoming periods. [1] Even though it’s typically during the ovulation phase after your last menstruation (10 to 15 days after your last period) that you conceive, your first day of pregnancy is denoted by the first day of your previous menstrual cycle. [2] Your delivery date is estimated as per your last menstruation date.

Early signs of pregnancy

  1. Cramps and spotting. After the egg is fertilized, it implants itself into the walls of the uterus. This process of implantation occurs anywhere between four to eight weeks and may be marked with light bleeding. Research shows that this is accompanied by stomach cramps in 28% of women. The episode generally lasts for about three days and doesn’t need treatment. [3]
  2. Elevated body temperature. Your overall body temperature increases when you conceive. However, the body temperature also rises easily while exercising and during hot summers. It might go unnoticed, so you have to keep track of your body temperature to observe this change. You should also make sure to drink a lot of water during this time. [4]
  3. Fatigue and tiredness. Your progesterone levels will elevate during pregnancy, making you feel fatigued and sleepy. Other factors such as low blood sugar levels, lower BP, and increased blood production may all contribute to tiredness. When you feel too tired, you should rest a lot and get enough sleep. [5]
  4. Elevated heart rate. There are a lot of new changes to which your body needs to acclimatize. This includes the flush of hormones which, along with the increased blood flow, causes an increased heart rate. Some physical exertion can also cause palpitations. [6]
  5. Early mammary changes. One of the prominent early signs of pregnancy include breast changes. Such changes occur due to hormonal changes and result in swollen, tender, or tingly breasts about one to two weeks after conception. The area around the nipples, called the areola, also darkens and widens. [5]
  6. Mood swings. Elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone lead to rapid mood swings. These can cause repeated episodes of excitement and euphoria accompanied by periods of depression, weeping, and irritability. Also, this will make you more reactive to situations that normally wouldn’t pull a reaction from you. Try to keep calm and remind yourself to take deep breaths. [7]
  7. Hyper urination and incontinence. The inflow of hormones lead to increased blood flow in the body during pregnancy. This results in a greater supply of blood to the kidneys too, meaning processing more fluid than usual. As there’s more urine production, there’s an increased amount of fluid in the bladder causing pressure and incontinence. Prepare yourself to need easy access to the toilet to prevent leaking. Also, drink a good amount of water to prevent dehydration. [8]
  8. Constipation and bloating during early pregnancy. Bloating is experienced during early pregnancy, similar to that which occurs during the menstrual cycle. This change is due to hormone inflow, particularly progesterone, and reduces intestinal motility. This results in constipation and, in turn, adds to bloating. To ease this symptom, eat foods rich in fiber, drink a lot of water, and exercise appropriately. You can also consider talking to your doctor if this condition worsens. [5]
  9. Morning sickness. Morning sickness is marked by nausea and vomiting. The severity of the condition may vary and the number of vomiting episodes per day differs from person to person. Regardless, morning sickness is probably the most irritable early symptom of pregnancy. The term is also slightly misleading as it can occur at any time throughout the day. The exact reason for morning sickness is unclear, but hormonal changes are considered to play a role. Nausea and vomiting continues from the start of pregnancy throughout the first three months. It might worsen with the progression of the first trimester, but it generally relieves as you enter into the second trimester. You can take measures to keep morning sickness to the minimal. Keep healthy snacks such as nuts and crackers at your bedside and eat a few whenever you feel nauseated. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and consult your doctor for medication if your condition becomes too severe and/or unbearable. [9]
  10. Food repugnance and sensitivity to smell. There have been self-reported events of odor sensitivity or disgust by many pregnant women. However, there’s little evidence behind why this occurs during the first trimester. Still, it’s important to consider as sensitivity to smell may instigate episodes of nausea and vomiting. Hypersensitivity to certain smells and foods may generate food aversions throughout the period of pregnancy. A literature review explored the relationship effect of pregnancy on smell sensitivity. It was reported that odor perception is stronger and more intense in pregnant women. [10]
  11. Dizziness and high BP. Blood pressure changes are accompany the onset of pregnancy. You can experience low blood pressure due to the dilation of vessels thanks to hormones like progesterone. As a result, you may experience dizziness and lightheadedness. On the other hand, symptoms of high blood pressure may also occur; this can be due to a family history, first conception, obesity, smoking, or alcohol. Your doctor will keep track of your vitals at every appointment, so make not to miss a single one. Ask your physician about the diet you should follow to keep your BP at normal levels. Stay hydrated and snack regularly. Also, try to stand up and change posture slowly to avoid sudden blood pressure changes [11].
  12. Heartburn. Hormones may result in the relaxation of the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus. This can lead to the regurgitation of acids from the stomach causing heartburn. You can minimize this by eating small portions of meals instead of a single larger one. Try to stay in an upright position by either sitting or standing for an hour after having your meal. If heartburn becomes unbearable, talk to your specialist about safe use of antacids.
  13. Skin changes during early pregnancy. You might have seen those experienced aunts figuring out your pregnancy before you’ve even gotten a positive test. The pregnancy glow enables them to do the guessing by just looking at your skin and eyes. The flow of more blood into your skin and the flush of hormones startle your sebaceous glands. This gives your skin a certain glow which isn’t otherwise there. Women who are prone to acne may also experience unusual acne breakouts.

how early signs of pregnancy

How can I tell if I’m pregnant after one week?

When you’re one week pregnant, you can’t actually tell whether you’re pregnant yet – because you’re not! If you’re experiencing any odd symptoms like headaches, bloating, or lower back pain, they’re likely due to your upcoming menstrual cycle. The duration of these symptoms may vary from person to person and can last from three to seven days.

As per gynecologists’ terms, your pregnancy count starts from the first day of your previous period. However, since ovulation occurs later, one week in pregnancy terms means you haven’t actually conceived yet. The average time to conceive is 2 to 3 weeks after your last cycle.

If you’re hoping to be pregnant at one week post-cycle, a good idea is to prepare your body for a baby. You should follow a healthy diet, take vitamins, folic acid, and other supplements, and – most importantly – avoid smoking and alcohol. Also, limit your coffee and tea intake to one cup per day! Keep track of your menstrual cycle to make use of your fertile days. [12]

Can a pregnancy test be positive at one week?

Generally, the first positive test comes out at 2 weeks of pregnancy. This is when human chorionic gonadotropin (hcG) has started to produce after conception. Even with the more sensitive tests, one won’t be able to confirm pregnancy until about 8 days after conception.

At one week, your uterus hasn’t yet received the mature egg follicle and the previous month’s uterine lining is busy being shed. This way, it will prepare itself for acquiring the fertilized zygote.

However, there are some pregnancy tests that can estimate the time of conception depending on the level of HCG in your urine. [13]

Pregnancy symptoms

Generally, the early signs of pregnancy are categorized as per the trimesters. There are three trimesters of pregnancy, the first being the most difficult to handle in terms of symptoms. By the time you’ve your missed your period, your pregnancy tests will also turn out to be positive. The intensity of symptoms, however, may be different for each person.

The first trimester

In general, the early signs of pregnancy are aggravated and increase in severity as the first trimester progresses. Extreme nausea and, at times, vomiting kick in, particularly when on an empty stomach. Frequent urination, heartburn, and breast tenderness also worsen, while a faster heartbeat and acne outbreaks become more common. Gaining a lot of weight isn’t a common feature of the first trimester, but the risk of miscarriage is highest during this time. So, extra care and caution should be practiced. [14]

The second trimester

Some of the symptoms of the first trimester usually fade away or completely vanish by the beginning of the second trimester. That is to say, from the fourth month onwards your nausea and vomiting should ease out a lot. However, other issues like constipation, heartburn, and breast changes will continue, while shortness of breath, fatigue, and tiredness seem not to want to leave ‘til the end. Gum bleeding, nasal bleeding, and stiffness are also some unwanted pregnancy symptoms during the second trimester. However, there’s some good news! One thing that every mom-to-be is excited about is the start of fetal movement. This begins in the fifth month.

By the end of the second trimester, there may be some improvement in the shortness of breath. Leakage of colostrum from your breasts and onset of Braxon-Hicks contractions (minor practice pains) may start to occur in some women. This will gradually develop and continue ‘til the end of pregnancy. [15]

The third trimester

The expanding uterus is the major sign marking the beginning of the last trimester. With the increasing size of the fetus, back pain is also inevitable. Some symptoms from the previous months continue, but dizziness may ease out a bit. Difficulty breathing is a common complaint as uterus enlargement occurs.

Varicose veins (swollen veins) occur most commonly in the legs. This can also take the form of hemorrhoids if varicose veins occur at the rectal region. Hemorrhoids can cause itching, become painful, and bleed. Stretching of the skin may cause stretch marks and Braxton-Hicks contractions, constipation, and heartburn may continue to strike from time to time.

Incontinence of urine may also occur while sneezing, coughing, or laughing because of uterine pressure. Nevertheless, don’t be dismayed! Pregnancy also adds to your beauty; one of its good features is fuller, stronger, and healthier hair due to benevolent hormones. The symptoms of the last trimester generally continue ‘til the end. [16]

The last month

Around the end of your pregnancy journey, your fetus drops into the lower pelvis – a process called lightening. This eases shortness of breath and improves your backache. However, hyper urination and incontinence continues and pressure on the bladder remains.

All of this being said, before actually confirming your pregnancy through a pregnancy test, you can watch out for the symptoms and early signs of pregnancy. These start way before you get a missed period. So, if you find it hard to wait for the confirmatory tests, here are the signs you should look for. Cervical dilation occurs which causes sharp pains before you actually step into labor. [17]

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