While many women “just know” when they’ve become pregnant, either due to experience or easily identifiable pregnancy symptoms, many others remain clueless to their condition well past a missed period and through their first trimester. Because every pregnancy is different, women will have a different assortment of pregnancy symptoms which vary in severity. It is always smart to stay in tune with your body, so that you can pick up on the subtle (or extreme) changes your body begins to make soon after conception.
Possibly the most telltale pregnancy symptom is a missed period. For women who have cycles that are extremely predictable, noting a missed period will not be difficult — but for others, a late period is no cause for concern. In this case, you may have to rely on other symptoms to alert you to your pregnancy. Some women will lightly spot around the time of implantation, or close to the time of their usual period, giving the impression of a light period.
Another classic early pregnancy symptom is the nausea and in some cases, vomiting associated with morning sickness. A woman suffering with morning sickness may suddenly experience severe nausea and aversion to foods and smells that previously had no effect on her. Morning sickness, which can occur at any time of the night or day, typically affects women approximately 2-8 weeks after conception. A bout of severe nausea or vomiting can also be attributed to food poisoning as well, so if there is a sudden onset of nausea which resolves within a couple of days, it was likely a simple stomach bug rather than an early pregnancy symptom.
A pregnant woman’s breasts undergo significant changes, beginning early in the pregnancy. From about one to two weeks after conception, the breasts may begin to feel tender, swollen, sensitive and even painful. The areola may begin to darken starting in the first trimester and continuing throughout the pregnancy. Sensitivity of the breasts can be attributed to hormonal changes, such as the menstrual cycle, so this on its own may not be a pregnancy symptom.
Another common early pregnancy symptom is fatigue. Most any pregnant woman will tell you that the fatigue of pregnancy can be intense — knocking even the most energetic women flat on their back. Fatigue, of course, can be attributed to a busy schedule, lack of sleep and hormonal imbalance as well, so if you suspect that you aren’t pregnant, see your doctor to determine the cause of your exhaustion.
Frequent Urination/Fluid Retention
Although this is typically one of the most prevalent pregnancy symptoms that manifests itself a bit later in pregnancy, some women will start making more frequent trips to the restroom early on. Others may notice that they’re suddenly retaining fluid, much like pre-menstrual bloating.
Aches and Pains
Due to the hormone surge that occurs right after conception and throughout pregnancy, many women will develop headaches and backaches early on. Some women who have had previous pregnancies may notice round ligament pain and suspect that they’re pregnant. Round ligament pain is a pain located in the groin or lower abdomen, brought on by sudden movement such as standing. It is caused by the stretching and thickening of the ligaments that support an ever-expanding uterus, and is typically not felt until the second trimester.
If you’re experiencing any of these pregnancy symptoms and they can’t be explained by any other cause, you may be pregnant. You can start with a trip to your drugstore for a home pregnancy test — these are typically very accurate from about two weeks after conception, or around the time you would have your period. If the test is negative and you continue to have pregnancy symptoms, wait a few days and retake a home pregnancy test, or visit your doctor for a test.