Although ultrasounds and pregnancy tests are the surefire ways to find out if you’re pregnant, there are other symptoms and signs to look for.
Some women begin experiencing their symptoms within the first couple weeks of them being pregnant. Others might not start experiencing symptoms until later in their pregnancy when they already have a baby bump. The symptoms you experience may be similar to those you experience right before you get your menstrual period, therefore, you may ignore them not realizing they are related to pregnancy.
Below are 15 signs and symptoms that you could indicate you are expecting.
Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
1. Missed Period
Once your body starts the implantation process, it begins producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone helps your body maintain your pregnancy. It also tells your ovaries to stop the release each month of your mature eggs. You’ll likely have a missed period four weeks after conception.
2. Raised Body Temperature
Another sign of pregnancy is a higher basal body temperature (BBT). The core temperature of your body might increase easier while you’re in hot weather or exercising. Your basal body temperature may rise only by 0.4ºF. This means if your average BBT is 98.6ºF, it could rise to 99ºF when you’re pregnant.
3. Frequent Urination
You may start making more trips to the bathroom. This could happen even before you miss your period. You may find you have to get up to go to the bathroom during the night. The pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) increases blood flow to your kidneys, which helps them to remove waste more quickly. Your growing uterus is also putting more pressure on your bladder, making you take more frequent trips to the bathroom.
You’ll continue to urinate more frequently throughout your pregnancy as your baby is generating its own waste too.
A very early pregnancy sign is where you’re feeling extremely tired. Fatigue is due to high progesterone levels, which rise during the first 36 to 38 weeks of pregnancy.
5. Morning Sickness
You may begin feeling nauseous and not just in the mornings. More than 70 percent of expecting women experience morning sickness, typically starting about the sixth week of pregnancy and concluding around the twelfth week for most women. This morning sickness can cause you to lose your appetite. While the cause of morning sickness isn’t completely clear, it’s believe it’s linked to the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
6. Cramping and Spotting
After conception, your fertilized egg connects to your uterus wall causing spotting and in some cases, cramping. This is known as implantation bleeding. This can happen anywhere from 6 to 12 days after ovulation.
7. Breast Changes
Changes to your breasts are another early pregnancy sign. Your hormone levels change rapidly after conception. Your breasts may become sore, tingly or swollen a couple weeks later. They may feel fuller, heavier and tender to the touch. You may also notice the areolas around your breasts darken.
8. Food Aversions and Cravings
When you’re newly pregnant, you may begin to have food aversions. You may feel repelled by a cup of coffee, the smell of eggs or something else. Certain smells may even trigger your gag reflex. According to the journal Appetite, you may develop food aversions around the same time you experience morning sickness.
In the U.S., dairy foods, chocolates, juices and fruits are common pregnancy food cravings, and some expecting women crave fatty or salty foods, such as pizza and pickles. While it’s not completely understood what causes these pregnancy cravings, changes in the hormone Leptin, which stimulates metabolism and increases in the substance Neuropeptide Y (NPY), which increases appetite, might be at play.
9. Mood Swings
Mood swings are very common in pregnancy, usually due to hormonal changes affecting your neurotransmitters. These are your brain’s chemical messengers. Not everyone responds the same way to these changes. Some women may have good or bad heightened emotions. Others may feel anxious or depressed.
10. Shortness of Breath
If you find you’re suddenly getting winded when you climb the stairs, it could be a sign that you’re pregnant. Your baby needs oxygen and it could leave you feeling short of breath. This symptom will also carry on throughout your entire pregnancy.
11. Metallic Taste in Your Mouth
You may notice a metallic taste in your mouth, especially during your earlier pregnancy stages. This change in taste sensation is known as dysgeusia. Again, you can thank your pregnancy hormones for this, especially estrogen.
12. Dizziness and Headaches
Feelings of dizziness, headaches or lightheadedness are common when you’re in your early pregnancy and could be due to changes in your blood volume and hormonal changes.
Early pregnancy hormonal changes may cause you to experience bloating; similar to if you were starting your menstrual period.
Your digestive system slows down due to hormonal changes and this can result in constipation as food and waste move less quickly through your system.
15. Nasal congestion
Blood production and increased hormone levels may cause your mucous membranes in your nose to dry out, swell or bleed easily. This leads to a runny or stuffy nose.
Pregnancy symptoms vary among women. Your symptoms may be mild or severe and you may have only one or two symptoms or a whole bunch of them. Women also don’t experience the same symptoms during pregnancy. These symptoms may also begin or become noticeable at various points during your pregnancy.
Finding a Doctor for Pregnancy
Having a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude are two essential aspects of maintaining an optimal pregnancy, but you need to keep up on your prenatal care through the help of a medical professional. It’s essential that you understand your options so you can come up with a birthing plan that suits you. Working with the right doctor is part of this birthing plan.
Doctors who may assist you in your pregnancy health and wellness include:
- Primary Care Physician: Your first step when you begin noticing pregnancy symptoms is to consult with your primary care doctor.
- Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN): This is a physician that specializes in the care of women’s reproductive health.
- Midwife: The midwife provides services that are similar to the obstetrician, but they’re not involved in a surgical environment.
- Doula: The doula is an individual who is trained and works as your labor companion. Their main role is to provide you with physical and emotional support during your labor.
If you miss your period, you should take an at-home pregnancy test right away. It’s essential that you start your prenatal care early for your health as well as your baby’s. Contact your primary care doctor if you begin noticing any symptoms that could be related to pregnancy. They’ll confirm whether you’re pregnant or not and recommend the next specialist you should see to begin monitoring your pregnancy and the life growing inside of you.