Early signs of pregnancy.
In this section I will talk about the signs of early pregnancy and the ones I have experienced myself. When you are trying to get pregnant, you will think every little cramp and pain is implantation, every little symptom that is out of the ordinary is a pregnancy sign. I have listed the top 25 signs of pregnancy and I will let you know the ones to watch out for and the ones that are unreliable. Some of these symptoms are well known and some may surprise you.
A positive pregnancy test.
Obviously the most reliable sign of early pregnancy, you can have apart from a blood test or ultra sound is a positive pregnancy test. But how early can you take a pregnancy test? To answer this we must ask how many days after ovulation can you take a pregnancy test? This is because the time it takes the egg to implant after it is released varies and it can take a while for the pregnancy hormones to build up to a level in your urine that will turn a pregnancy test positive. I have read lots about this on trying to conceive forums and although a few women get their positive test as early as 8 or 9 days after ovulation, the most reliable time to do a pregnancy test is from 12 days after ovulation and if you can wait until you have missed your period that is ideal.
This is a Clear blue pregnancy test taken at 13dpo. These are my favourite pregnancy tests although they can be a bit pricey in the shops. Online they are cheaper at around £7 for 2 tests. Clearblue also do a digital pregnancy test which will not only tell you that you are pregnant but how many weeks you are.
These are some cheap pregnancy tests taken at 14dpo/4weeks pregnant (the day my period should have been due). As you can see the lines are faint but you can clearly see the tests are positive. It says you can use these up to 6 days before your period is due but I think this is way too early and will inevitably lead to disappointment. They are great to us once your period is due or missed and because they are cheap you can test to your hearts content.
You have missed your period.
If i have missed my period am i pregnant? A missed period can be an unreliable sign of pregnancy unless you know the exact day you ovulated and the length of your luteal phase. For example, you could have 28 day cycles and miss your period but maybe this cycle you ovulated a little bit later than normal for some reason. Maybe you were a little stressed out this cycle and your ovulation was delayed. This would mean that your period is late but not because you are pregnant. I have read about this happening so many times on trying to conceive forums. Women become confused as they have a missed period but a negative pregnancy test. They are then disappointed when their period arrives a few days later. This is because they are just going by their average cycle length and they do not know when they actually ovulated. You can be sure of the day you have ovulated by charting your temperatures.
Your temperatures stay high after you ovulate for more than 16 days and you miss your period.
If you chart your temperatures and you know the length of your luteal phase then you can be pretty sure that you are pregnant if your temperatures stay high for a few days after your period is due e.g. If you know your luteal phase is the average 14 days long and you know which day you ovulated on from your chart, it is more than likely that you are pregnant if your temperatures have stayed high for 16 days or more and your period does not arrive. This is because your luteal phase length stays pretty consistent from cycle to cycle so you should come on your period a set number of days after you have ovulated. We say 16 days and not 14 just to make sure.
This is one of my pregnancy charts. As you can see I had a very long follicular phase and didnt ovulate until day 72. You can clearly see my temperature rise and stay high after I ovulated for more than 16 days.
When does implantation bleeding occur? And what does implantation bleeding look like?
Spotting during your luteal phase could be a sign of implantation bleeding. Light spotting of brown or pink ( and sometimes red) discharge around 6-12 days after ovulation could indicate implantation and can be an early sign of pregnancy. When the egg attaches to the uterus it is called implantation and as this happens a small amount of blood may be shed. This blood can pass through the cervix and the vagina and you may see it after you wipe. Spotting during your luteal phase can occur for a number of reasons however such as a luteal phase defect, cervical erosion, vascular cervix, ovulation spotting and many more reasons (see section on luteal phase for more information). If you never normally have spotting in your luteal phase then this could be a positive sign for pregnancy. You can look up photos of implantation bleeding online using google images to get an idea of what it can look like.
Egg white cervical mucus after ovulation.
In the section on ‘making the most of your fertile window’ I have mentioned that you get different types of cervical mucus throughout your cycle. At the beginning of your cycle your mucus is usually creamy and thick and as you approach your fertile window it becomes watery and then it should hopefully start to resemble an egg white texture (Egg white cervical mucus – EWCM) which is your fertile cervical mucus. After ovulation it returns to the creamy discharge again. This change occurs due to the change in estrogen levels throughout your cycle. Before ovulation the levels are low and as you approach ovulation the levels increase which cause the cervix to make the fertile EWCM. After ovulation the levels drop again and your discharge changes to the none fertile type. If you conceive however, the corpus luteum (the empty egg sac on your ovary) continues to produce high amounts of estrogen and this higher level of estrogen can cause you to have more watery discharge and even EWCM after ovulation. I didn’t notice this when I was pregnant with my son but I did with my daughter. Around the day my period was due I was getting watery discharge and a small amount of EWCM.
Increased vaginal discharge.
Many women experience an increase in vaginal discharge during early pregnancy. As the mucus plug start to develop to block the opening of your cervix ( which protects your baby from e.g. infection during pregnancy), it can result in milky watery discharge that should be odor-free. This increase in discharge is also as a result of increasing amounts of estrogen in your system.
Increased levels of estrogen after you ovulate cause you to retain fluid and you can feel bloated. Although this is a sign of early pregnancy, you can also feel bloated when you are not pregnant a few days before your period is due so this sign is unreliable.
A change in taste (Dysgeusia).
Metallic taste in the mouth – Pregnancy can affect your taste buds, with some women having a metallic taste in their mouth before they have even missed their period. This happened to me with my first pregnancy. Four days or so before I missed my period I could taste metal in my mouth.
Food or drink aversion – A sudden dislike for a food or drink that you usually enjoy can also happen early on in pregnancy. I didn’t have any food aversions with my first 3 pregnancies really but the taste of red wine changed for me in all of my pregnancies. About a week after I ovulated with my first pregnancy (before I knew I was pregnant) I had a sip of red wine and it tasted really strong and like it was off. It was a brand I had before and liked and it was particularly strange as my husband said it tasted fine. With the next 3 pregnancies I tasted a tiny bit of red wine (literally dipped my tongue in the glass) to see if it really was a sign for me and I can confirm it was. It tasted like the alcohol content was really high and was distasteful. When pregnant with my son I didn’t develop any food aversions but with my daughter I could hardly eat anything for the first few months because of nausea. Once it passed and I was able to eat properly again I still couldn’t stand noodles. Even the thought of a noodle made my stomach churn but this happened much later in the pregnancy and was not an early sign for me. Lots of women get food aversions early on though so it still can be an early sign.
Food or drink cravings – With my son I developed a craving for water melon later on but my Doctor said it was because I had low iron levels which can make you very thirsty which I was. I would dream about eating water melons my craving was so strong. With my daughter I had no cravings really. I ate a lot of cheese and salad cream sandwiches but I loved them before I got pregnant. Lots of women get food cravings early on through so it can still be an early sign. Usually if you are lacking in something then your body cleverly craves foods containing these nutrients but it is not always the case. This once again is to do with the high levels of estrogen in your body which affects our perception of taste.
Increased sense of smell.
There is a strong link between sense of smell and taste which can be exaggerated during pregnancy. So along with a change in taste your sense of smell can also be heightened during early pregnancy. Scents and smells that you have never noticed before can smell extremely strong.
When I was pregnant with my son I remember being on a bus and someone had walked on that smelt like smoke and body odor. I felt so sickly with it I had to get off the bus and wait for the next one even though there were several rows of seats between us. I was about 16 weeks pregnant at the time so it wasn’t an early sign for me but it can be for some women.
This usually occurs later on in pregnancy but can happen at the beginning and be a sign of early pregnancy. You may find you are waking up in the middle of the night with hunger pains or snacking more in between meals.
I never really experienced this myself as I was quite nauseous at the beginning of all of my pregnancies but lots of my friends have experienced this. This symptom you need to be careful of as you can put on weight too quickly at the beginning of your pregnancy unnecessarily. If you feel the urge to eat more often than you normally would then choose healthy alternatives to sugary or fatty foods.
Feeling tired is a huge sign early sign of pregnancy for many women. I am not talking about being a little tired here. I am talking about complete exhaustion for no apparent reason. You know that feeling when you cannot keep your eyes open and they roll in the back of your head. I wasn’t too tired during early pregnancy with my son but with my daughter it was really debilitating at the beginning.
I was having to nap when he napped and could even feel my eyes dropping when I was watching him play or when he was in the bath. I am usually quite an energetic person and I like to stay up late but I was going to bet at 8.30pm or was falling asleep on the sofa after dinner. My husband would agree it was really out of character for me. This started around a week after I missed my period when I would nod off in the passenger seat of our car even on short journeys. I knew I was pregnant at this point but it was still a very early symptom of pregnancy for me. It happens as your body is working very hard to grow the new life inside you.
Feeling dizzy or light-headed.
I experienced this when pregnant with my son. It started around 5 weeks of pregnancy and lasted a few weeks. If I stood up too suddenly then my head would start to spin and I would feel faint. This is because the pregnancy hormones are causing your blood vessels to dilate and your blood pressure drops as a result. If you experience this symptom of early pregnancy then it is important to drink plenty and lie down for a while until you feel better. I would assume this drop in blood pressure is linked in with fatigue as mentioned above.
Nausea is one of the most common and well-known signs of early pregnancy and I experienced this during 3 of my 4 pregnancies. With my son it started around the time I missed my period and subsided around weeks of pregnancy but with my daughter it didn’t start until around 5 weeks of pregnancy and lasted much longer (until around 16 weeks or so). It would be worse in the evening and I couldn’t eat anything after 6pm so I lost a lot of weight at the beginning. One of my friends got nausea so badly during pregnancy she would vomit several times a day and actually ruptured her esophagus and had to be hospitalised. There is treatment available now which is safe for the baby so if you get bad nausea during pregnancy and it is too much to cope with, speak to your midwife or GP. Try to eat small amounts throughout the day whenever you can and although it didn’t work for me ginger tea is thought to help. Resting as much as possible also helps.
Bleeding gums isn’t something most women link to early pregnancy, but having swollen bleeding gums can be a sign you are pregnant. The increased amount of progesterone in your system is responsible as it increases the blood flow to your gums which can make them bleed after brushing your teeth. When you are pregnant it is important to see a dentist which is free once you get your maternity health card off your midwife. You should use this opportunity if you have not been to the dentist in a while to get a free check up. I experienced bleeding gums before I missed my period with my first pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my son and daughter I got this symptom too but not until later on in the pregnancy when my gums would bleed every time I rushed my teeth.
I noticed this very early on in all 4 of my pregnancies. My breasts become enlarged and very tender and nipples were more sensitive. I have read a lot about women noticing the areola (the area around the nipples) getting darker and more glands appearing on them but I never noticed this.
When you are in the early stages of pregnancy the blood supply to your breasts increase due to the increase in the pregnancy hormones. With this increased blood supply often comes a tingling feeling in your nipples. This can be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy and is often felt a week or so after ovulation. I experienced this when I was pregnant with my daughter. I had done a pregnancy test a few days before I was due my period but it was negative. I was disappointed but the following day I started to feel a weird tingling in my nipples. I had never had this before after ovulation but I had felt this when my son was a baby and I was lactating. If you have already had a baby and breastfed him/her then you would have felt that tingling type of pain that you get with the ‘milk let down’. This tingling felt very similar and can be a common sign. The feeling that you are lactating when you are not currently breastfeeding.
Skin problems such as increased blemishes or spots/acne can be an early sign of pregnancy but this can also happen around the time your period is due. The increased estrogen levels increases the production of natural oils on the skin which can cause your pores to become blocked leading to spots.
During pregnancy, you are likely to feel hotter than you normally do. This is to do with the higher level of progesterone in your system which raises your basal body temperature after you ovulate and will remain high throughout your pregnancy. Later on in the pregnancy, you will also feel hotter as your body is working extra hard in developing your baby. When I was pregnant for the second time I developed prickly heat because I was so hot. I had prickly heat on holiday before but it was March in the UK so the weather wasn’t particularly hot. It was something out of the ordinary and turned out to be a sign that I was pregnant.
Period type cramps.
This is a common but frustrating sign of early pregnancy. It can happen a few days before your period is due or around the time that it is due and you may think that it is game over for another month. This didn’t happen for me but lots of my friends have experienced menstrual cramps and then later found out they were pregnant when their periods didn’t arrive.
When you are pregnant you have more progesterone in your body which relaxes your intestines. This slows down digestion and can cause a build up of gas and you could feel bloated and it can lead to flatulence and lots of burping. You can feel quite uncomfortable from quite early on and I experienced this with all of my pregnancies from around 5 weeks. I found that sipping boiled water (you can add a slice of lemon) really helped to dissipate the gas and get rid of the discomfort.
I got heartburn when pregnant with both my son and daughter but it occurred later on when I was 5 months pregnant or so. Many women however find heartburn is a sign of early pregnancy. It is caused by the hormone progesterone which relaxes the sphincter muscle at the top of your stomach causing acid to escape and flow back up the esophagus (acid reflux) especially when you lie down at night.
A high cervix.
If you are monitoring your cervical mucus and height of your cervix for your fertile signs you may notice that at different stages in your cycle your cervix can be higher or lower. It is usually high during ovulation and low when you are not fertile. During pregnancy your cervix usually feels high but when this change occurs depends on a woman’s individual hormone levels. It can happen within 12 hours from ovulation or may occur after you have a positive pregnancy test. I would not rely on this symptom especially if you have already had a baby as your cervix position will probably be lower than what it was before you had a baby. The feel of your cervix is probably a more reliable sign than the height of it as during pregnancy it feels soft as it is swollen with increased blood flow but the opening will be closed (unlike during ovulation when it is high soft and open).
This is again due to dilated blood vessels caused by increased amounts of progesterone. I have never had a nose bleed when I have not been pregnant so it is definitely a side effect of pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my son it happened quite a few times but not until later on in the pregnancy so for me it wasn’t an early sign of pregnancy. For some women nose bleeds can happen early on however.
During pregnancy your body increases the amount of blood it pumps around the body and this means that the kidneys have to process more fluid which can lead to more frequent peeing. This is something that normally occurs much later on in the pregnancy but some women say it was an early sign of pregnancy for them. This increased need to pee during pregnancy is enhanced by your growing uterus and baby pushing down on your bladder when you are further along.
This can occur due to changes or surges in pregnancy hormone levels but I didn’t experience this myself. I did get loads of head aches when I came of the contraceptive pill however as my body adjusted to the new hormone levels. I actually went for an eye test because it was so out of the ordinary for me to have constant headaches. So a change in hormone levels can definitely cause head aches.
Feel free to comment:
There are many more early signs of pregnancy that you may have experienced. Feel free to comment below and I can add them to the list and do some research.