Understanding the early signs of pregnancy
Late period, sore boobs, weird tastes in your mouth – there are a lot of early signs and symptoms that suggest you might be pregnant and you may experience very early on in your pregnancy
At a glance
- You can do a test from the first day of your missed period
- It is common to have some bleeding throughout the first few months of pregnancy
- Tender boobs and feeling nauseous are common signs of pregnancy
Noticing the early signs of pregnancy
You may notice the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy as little as within one week of conception. Most early pregnancy symptoms occur within the first four weeks and first signs of pregnancy may include:
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Top five early signs of pregnancy
- Nausea or sickness can start very early for some women – a common early pregnancy symptom will be morning sickness. This will usually start when you’re around six weeks pregnant. It might just be nausea but can also include vomiting and despite its name, can happen at any time day or night.
- Needing to have a wee more often – an early pregnancy symptom may be the need to wee more. This is down to a combination of pregnancy hormones, a larger volume of blood in your system and your kidneys working harder
- Headaches - You may experience headaches in the early stages of pregnancy. This is due to the sudden rise of hormones in your body as it adjusts to being pregnant.
- Darkening of the skin around your nipples – another common early pregnancy symptom will be the skin around your nipples (the areolas) getting darker. You may also find the nipples become erect and the bumps around your nipples more pronounced.
- Food cravings or aversions – It’s possible you might be put off by certain foods, especially if you’re experiencing nausea from morning sickness too! However you may also find that you develop cravings for certain foods (and perhaps strange ones!) from an very early stage of your pregnancy.
There are a lot more pregnancy symptoms that can be your body’s way of letting you know you are pregnant.
Common early pregnancy symptoms
A pregnancy symptom you might not expect as you may have missed your period, but you can experience pains at the time you would expect your period. Not the most common symptom, but some women do experience it.
A slightly odd pregnancy symptom but you might feel like your muscles are almost being pinched from the inside or even stretched, you may experience this on one side of your tummy and then later on the other side of your tummy.
Caused by the pregnancy hormone progesterone, you can actually show signs of a bump before your baby has even grown. Feeling full and swollen, particularly after a meal is a symptom some women experience.
Your ligaments can start stretching very early as your uterus changes shape and this can cause some to feel stomach cramps.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Even though going to the loo more often is in itself associated with early signs of pregnancy, it can also be a sign of a urinary or bladder infection. This is common early pregnancy symptom due to your changing hormones. If you think you may have a UTI, visit your GP.
Another pregnancy symptom we can blame on the increasing level of the hormone progesterone. A sign of thrush can be increased cervical mucus and it may be thicker and creamier. Experiencing itching, soreness, and even a stinging sensation when you wee can all be symptoms of thrush.
Trapped wind can be very painful and you can experience it in very early pregnancy. Passing the wind can make you feel better instantly.
An early symptom of pregnancy can be the onset of constipation that once again is due to changes in your hormone progesterone.
The polar opposite of constipation, you could also suffer with diarrhoea in the early stages of pregnancy.
Strange metallic taste in the mouth
Described as a sour or metallic taste in the mouth in early pregnancy is known as dysgeusia.
It’s not uncommon to experience more saliva in your mouth in the early stages of pregnancy and this can often be highlighted by a little drool on the pillow when you wake up in the morning!
pregnancy symptoms are all about extremes and this one is no different. Where some experience excess saliva as an early pregnancy symptom, others may have the complete opposite, a dry mouth. Drinking more to try and combat the dry mouth may be one way you notice this symptom.
Another early sign of pregnancy can be some bleeding of your gums you notice when you brush your teeth. It is the hormonal changes that make your gums more sensitive than usual to the bacteria in plaque.
If you have early signs of pregnancy - take a pregnancy test
First you want to know for sure if you’re pregnant and the best way is by doing a pregnancy test. Just visit your GP or buy a kit from your local chemist. You can do a test from the first day of your missed period. It takes two weeks from when you conceive for the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) to show in your urine, so try not to test too early. It’s possible that your first test might be a negative but if you’re displaying the common early signs of pregnancy and you’re period hasn’t arrived, you should re-test a few days later to confirm.
There are some other factors to think about, including:
Still having periods
It’s surprisingly common to have ‘break-though’ bleeding or ‘implantation’ bleeding during the first few months of pregnancy. It’s thought this could be due to the egg implanting in your uterus or the hormones that regulate your period being higher. It even means some people don’t realise they’re pregnant for a while. Always, get it checked out though, to make sure there isn't a problem.
See your doctor if you’re displaying the early signs of pregnancy
The first thing you need to do is see your doctor or local midwife, who can get you registered with the maternity services in your local area. They are a great source of information and support if you’re ever unsure of anything during your pregnancy.
Mixed emotions are normal
Finding out you’re pregnant is huge! You might feel wildly excited one minute and terrified the next, and your partner might be on a rollercoaster, too. Not only are you processing major news, but your body is changing fast and dealing with a riot of new hormones. So if you’re feeling a bit all over the shop, it’s perfectly normal!
Keep taking folic acid
Taking folic acid during pregnancy helps lower your unborn baby’s risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects. The Department of Health recommends you take a daily 400 micrograms (mcg) supplement three months before conception, ideally, and up to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Wait to tell people
The nanosecond you find out you’re pregnant you’ll probably want to call everyone you know, share it on every social media channel you have, and sing it from the rooftops - and you absolutely can. But many people play it safe and wait until their first scan at around 12 weeks before sharing their fantastic news.
Stay off the booze
It’s best that you avoid drinking alcohol if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant. This is because alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and to your baby, potentially affecting their development and even increasing the risk of miscarriage early on. If you’re already displaying the early signs of pregnancy then you should be avoiding alcohol.
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