Early Pregnancy Symptoms – When to Look for the Pregnancy Test

Could you be pregnant?

Have you had unprotected sex with your partner, and now you are wondering if you are pregnant or not?

No matter whether you planned a pregnancy or not, the symptoms will be there.

Pregnancy symptoms are different from one woman to another and from one pregnancy to another.

However, one of the most significant symptoms is a delayed or missed period.

Some women do not experience these early pregnancy signs for a few weeks, while others get it in the first week or two.

If you want to be sure, a pregnancy test is always an option.

Most common signs

early pregnancy signs
Source: americanpregnancy.org

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the most common first symptoms of pregnancy are the following:

  • 29% of women say that their first sign was a missed period
  • 25% of women polled by APA say that nausea was their first symptom
  • 17% of women reported a change in their breast as an initial sign of pregnancy

And while implantation bleeding is considered the first pregnancy symptom, only 3% of women surveyed by the American Pregnancy Association reported implantation bleeding as their first symptom.

Explaining pregnancy symptoms

With that in mind, let’s explain all of the early pregnancy symptoms, not just the most common signs of pregnancy.

Tender and swollen breast

In the first weeks of pregnancy, a woman’s breasts become tender and swollen.

As mentioned previously, they are one of the first symptoms of pregnancy.

Swollen breasts can signal pregnancy as early as two weeks after conception.

They happen due to hormonal changes that make your breasts tender, sore or tingly.

In some cases, women report that their breasts feel fuller and heavier.


Fatigue and tiredness is a symptom that will stay with through the entire 9 months pregnancy period.

But in the first weeks of pregnancy, some women report they feel most tired in their life, while others do not feel fatigue at all six weeks into their pregnancy.

The reason for fatigue is that levels of progesterone soar, and in high doses, the hormone can put you to sleep.

At the same time, your blood sugar levels go down, and your blood pressure goes down as well.

Remember, you are growing a baby in your belly, and that takes your energy levels during pregnancy.

You can combat fatigue in the early months of pregnancy by making an effort to get more sleep.

Another option is to keep the bedroom cool to help you sleep.

Being that your body temperature will be higher, you want a cool room to relax and sleep.

Bleeding, cramping, and spotting

It is widely assumed that implantation bleeding, or spotting between periods is the first sign of pregnancy.

Many women notice a small amount of spotting or vaginal bleeding just after one-period finishes, and another one starts.

Implantation bleeding happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus, which happens 10 to 14 days after fertilization.

If you’re not sure if the bleeding you notice is really implantation bleeding or your next period, you can use this implantation calculator to clear your doubts.

The bleeding happens earlier than a regular period, and it is lighter in color.

In fact, the color of your bleeding can be pink, red, or even brown. Spotting can be defined by blood present only when wiping.

Some women also report pain and cramping, similar to those during a period.

If you notice spotting, it is wise to stop smoking, drinking alcohol, or using medications that are associated with heavy bleeding.

Nausea with or without vomiting

Everyone knows that morning sickness accompanies pregnancy.

Even men know it. Morning sickness might make you think that nausea comes only in the morning.

But the reality is that nausea can strike at any time of the day or night.

Considered a classic symptom of pregnancy, nausea, and vomiting happen in some women, while others go entire pregnancy without morning sickness.

The reason for morning sickness is the rapid rise of estrogen levels, causing the stomach to empty more slowly.

Pregnant women also report that some smells and odors can trigger their nausea.

The best way to combat nausea in the morning is to grab something to eat in the evening before going to bed so that your stomach is not empty.

Food aversions and food cravings

You might say that this is just an old wives tale.

But women who have gone through pregnancy swear it is true.

During pregnancy, your sense of smell is intensified.

Therefore, you might find yourself craving for certain foods due to your sense of smell and taste.

Or, you might find you cannot stand something you loved before.

And like all other early pregnancy symptoms, this one can be classified as a result of hormonal changes.

Frequent headaches

In the early weeks of pregnancy, your body will increase blood circulation due to hormonal changes.

This increased blood flow might trigger frequent, but mild headaches. Nothing like a migraine.

Mood swings

Think of pregnancy as a lot similar to a menstrual period, with the difference you are growing a baby in your stomach.

A lot of the signs are similar because in both cases, the symptoms are caused by hormonal changes.

The flood of hormones in your body during pregnancy can make you unusually emotional and weepy.

Expect mood swings, especially in the first three months.

Raised body temperature

Basal body temperature is the oral temperature when you first wake up in the morning.

After ovulation, this temperature increases slightly and remains at that level until your next period.

If you chart your basal body temperature to determine your ovulation period, you can notice you are pregnant when you see constant elevation for more than two weeks.

Increased heart rate

Between weeks 8 and 10, your heart will start pumping faster and harder.

During this period, palpitations and arrhythmias are common.

Again, the reason is hormones.

And of course, a fetus growing in your stomach, causing increased blood flow.

If you have an underlying heart problem, you should consult with your physician so you can manage the problem.

Missed period

This is the most obvious early symptom of pregnancy.

Missed period is what usually prompts women to reach for the pregnancy test.

Frequent urination

During pregnancy, your body increases the amount of blood it pumps.

Because of the extra blood flow, your kidneys process more fluid than usual, leading to more fluid in the bladder.

You may expect to go to the bathroom every hour or two. It is important to up your fluid consumption so that you do not dehydrate.

When do the symptoms start?

The first week of pregnancy is based on the date of your last menstrual period.

Your last menstrual period is considered the first week of pregnancy, even if you were not actually pregnant yet.

Using the first day of your last period doctors calculate the expected delivery.

The first few weeks where you may not have symptoms count toward the 40-week pregnancy.

With that in mind, here is a timeline of when to expect the early pregnancy symptoms.

Most of these symptoms continue further in the pregnancy process.

  • Mild cramping and spotting – week 1 to 4
  • Missed period – week 4
  • Fatigue – week 4 to 5
  • Nausea – week 4 to 6
  • Tender and swollen breasts – week 4 to 6
  • Frequent urination – week 4 to 6
  • Motion sickness – week 5 to 6
  • Mood swings – week 6
  • Basal body temperature changes – week 6
  • High blood pressure – week 8
  • Faster heartbeat – week 8 to 10
  • Extreme fatigue and tiredness – week 9
  • Noticeable weight gain – week 11
  • Pregnancy flow – week 12

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