Missing your period is not always the first sign that you’re pregnant. Several symptoms can indicate pregnancy before you are due for your period. If you’re trying to conceive, look for these early signs of pregnancy a week or two before you expect your period.
1. Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is notoriously incorrectly named. As most pregnant women can tell you, it can happen at any time. It is also a common early sign of pregnancy before you miss your period. A few weeks after conception, your body produces more estrogen and progesterone, causing nausea or vomiting. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), morning sickness subsides after the first trimester for some women, while others have it throughout the entire pregnancy.
Sometimes we all feel a little tired and rundown if we’re not taking care of ourselves properly. However, one of the most common early signs of pregnancy is extreme fatigue or exhaustion. Activities that never phased you before may tire you out, and you might want to sleep a lot even if you have gotten 7-9 hours already. The body is producing more blood to support the developing baby, which can cause fatigue and increase your need for nutrients. These symptoms usually last through the first trimester and can be alleviated by resting, eating a nutrient-rich diet, and drinking plenty of fluids.
3. Breast Changes
In the first few weeks of pregnancy, your breasts may become heavy, tender, swollen, or tender. Some women experience this symptom before their period, so it can be confused with PMS. However, one thing that happens during the early weeks of pregnancy that does not occur during a regular menstrual cycle might tip you off. If your areolas – the circles of pigmented skin surrounding the nipples – may darken or even become enlarged.
Some women experience spotting as an early sign of pregnancy. Small amounts of light pink or brownish blood may appear a week or so before your period is due. This type of spotting is called implantation bleeding. As the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining, it can cause irritation and light bleeding. Sometimes this is mistaken as a period, but spotting is usually much lighter than a regular period.
Another sign of early pregnancy that can be confused with PMS or a regular period is cramping. During pregnancy, blood flow increases all over the body. Increased blood flow in the uterus can cause cramping. These cramps are usually mild, but if they become severe enough to affect your daily routine, you should see your doctor. Many women experience similar cramping right before their regular menstrual period, but it’s a common early symptom of pregnancy. So, if you have cramps (or the spotting mentioned above), don’t give up hope that you’re pregnant just yet.
6. Changes in Food Preference
Strange food cravings are a staple cliche in TV and films about pregnant women. However, that stereotype is rooted in reality. Many pregnant women develop cravings or aversions to food a few weeks after conception. You might find yourself wanting to eat things you don’t usually eat. Your favorite foods might suddenly make you nauseous. Or you may lose your appetite altogether.
7. Sensitivity to Smells
For some women, pregnancy makes their sense of smell go into overdrive. Exaggerated reactions to certain smells can tie into morning sickness and food preference. Scents that are not very strong to other people can be pungent and unpleasant to a pregnant woman.
8. Frequent Urination
A baby pressing on the bladder in the third trimester is not the only thing that causes frequent urination during pregnancy. After conception, your kidneys start working harder to filter the increased blood flow, resulting in the urge to urinate more frequently. This symptom can start right before your missed period.
9. Light Headedness
During the first weeks of pregnancy, you might feel dizzy or light-headed at times. After you get pregnant, your blood vessels dilate to prepare for the increased blood flow, which lowers blood pressure and creates that feeling of lightheadedness.
At City of Oaks Midwifery, we believe in caring for the whole woman in all stages of her life. If you are experiencing early signs of pregnancy or have other concerns about your health, call (919) 351-8253 to make an appointment at our Raleigh, NC midwifery practice.