While pregnancy tests and ultrasounds are the only way to know if you’re pregnant, you can look for other signs and symptoms like morning sickness, fatigue, and more.
Though it may sound odd, your first week of pregnancy is based on the date of your last menstrual period. Your last menstrual period is considered week 1 of pregnancy, even if you weren’t pregnant yet.
The expected delivery date is calculated using the first day of your last period. For that reason, you may not have symptoms during the first few weeks of your 40-week pregnancy.
Pregnancy signs and symptoms
If you’re pregnant, you may notice common early indicators. These can include:
- mild cramping and spotting
- missed period
- tingling or sore breasts
- frequent urination
- mood swings
- temperature changes
Other signs may include:
- high blood pressure
- extreme fatigue and heartburn
- faster heartbeat
- breast and nipple changes
- noticeable weight gain
- pregnancy glow
Cramping and spotting during early pregnancy
About 10 to 14 days (week 4) after conception, you may experience implantation bleeding, which may be mistaken for a light period. It does not occur for everyone. If it does occur, it will usually happen around the time you expect your period.
Signs of implantation bleeding include:
- Color: The color may be pink, red, or brown.
- Bleeding: It’s often described as light bleeding that never turns into a flow or enough to need a tampon.
- Pain: Though usually milder than menstrual pain, it may involve mild to severe cramping.
- Timing: Bleeding episodes may last a few hours to a few days.
If you think you may be experiencing implantation bleeding:
Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs, which can be associated with heavy bleeding.
Missed period during early pregnancy
After implantation, your body starts making the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which helps maintain the pregnancy. It also tells the ovaries to stop releasing mature eggs each month.
You will likely miss your next period 4 weeks after conception. If you typically have an irregular period, you’ll want to take a pregnancy test to confirm.
Know that a false negative is more likelyTrusted Source than a false positive.
If you get a positive result, schedule an appointment with a doctor to confirm.
If you’re on any medications, ask a doctor whether they pose risks to the pregnancy.
Raised body temperature during early pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, you may have a higher basal body temperature. Your core temperature may increase more easily with exercise or in hot weather. During this time, make sure to drink more water and exercise cautiously.
Fatigue during early pregnancy
The early weeks of pregnancy can make you feel exhausted. Try to get enough sleep if you can.
Keeping your bedroom cool can also help you sleep better.
Increased heart rate during early pregnancy
Your blood flow can increase by around 50%Trusted Source during pregnancy. This adds to your heart’s workload.
It’s best to discuss any underlying heart conditions or medications you take with your medical team.
Early changes to breasts
Breast changes can occur between weeks 4 and 6. You’re likely to develop tender and swollen breasts due to hormone changes. This will likely go away after a few weeks when your body has adjusted to the hormones.
Nipple and breast changes can also occur around week 11. Hormones continue to cause your breasts to grow. The areola — the area around the nipple — may grow darker and larger.
A comfortable, supportive, underwire-free maternity bra may help relieve breast tenderness.
A bra with varying clasps can give you room to “grow” in the coming months.
Breast pads that fit into your bra can reduce friction and nipple pain.
Changes in mood during early pregnancy
Your estrogen and progesterone levels increase during pregnancy and can make you more emotional or reactive than usual. Mood swings are commonTrusted Source during pregnancy and may cause feelings of:
Frequent urination and incontinence during early pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body increases the amount of blood it pumps. This causes the kidneys to process more fluid than usual, leading to more fluid in your bladder.
Hormones also play a large role in bladder health. During pregnancy, you may run to the bathroom more frequently or accidentally leak.
Drink about 300 milliliters (a little more than a cup) of extra fluids each day.
Plan out your bathroom trips ahead of time to avoid leaking urine.
Bloating and constipation during early pregnancy
Constipation can also increase feelings of abdominal bloating.
Morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting during early pregnancy
Although it’s called morning sickness, it can occur anytime during the day or night. It’s unclear exactly what causes nausea and morning sickness, but hormones may play a role.
Many people experience mild to severe morning sickness during the first trimester of pregnancy. It may become more intense toward the end of the first trimester but often becomes less severe as you enter the second trimester.
Keep a package of saltine crackers by your bed and eat a few before you get up in the morning to help settle morning sickness.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Talk with a doctor if you cannot keep fluids or food down.
High blood pressure and dizziness during early pregnancy
In most cases, blood pressure will drop in the early stages of pregnancy. This may also cause feelings of dizziness since your blood vessels are dilated.
High blood pressure (hypertension) due to pregnancy is more difficult to determine. Almost all cases of hypertension within the first 20 weeks indicate underlying problems. It may develop during early pregnancy but may also be present beforehand.
A medical professional will likely take your blood pressure during your first doctor visit to help establish a baseline blood pressure reading.
Consider switching to pregnancy-friendly exercises, if you haven’t already.
Learn how to track your blood pressure regularly.
A doctor can provide dietary guidelines to help reduce high blood pressure.
Drinking enough water and snacking regularly can help prevent dizziness. Standing up slowly when getting up from a chair may also help.
Smell sensitivity and food aversions during early pregnancy
Smell sensitivity is a symptom of early pregnancy that’s mostly self-reported. There’s little scientific evidence about smell sensitivity during the first trimester. However, it might be important since smell sensitivity may trigger nausea and vomiting. It may also cause a strong distaste for certain foods.
You may experience either a heightened or lessened sense of smell during pregnancy, according to 2017 research. This is especially common during the first and third trimesters. Heightened smell is more common than lessened smell. Some smells that never bothered you before may become less pleasing or even trigger nausea.
The good news is that your sense of smell usually returns to how it was before, after delivery, or within 6 to 12 weeks postpartum.
Weight gain during early pregnancy
Calorie recommendations for early pregnancy won’t change much from your usual diet but can increase as pregnancy progresses.
Heartburn during early pregnancy
Hormones can cause the valve between your stomach and esophagus to relax. This allows stomach acid to leak, causing heartburn.
Eating several small meals a day instead of larger ones can help prevent heartburn.
Sitting upright for at least an hour after eating can help you digest.
If you need antacids, talk with a doctor about what may be safe during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy glow and acne during early pregnancy
Many people may begin saying you have the “pregnancy glow.” Increased blood volume and higher hormone levels push more blood through your vessels. This causes the body’s oil glands to work overtime.
The increased activity of your body’s oil glands gives your skin a flushed, glossy appearance. On the other hand, you may also develop acne.
How quickly can I know if I’m pregnant?
Using an at-home pregnancy test, you can generally know if you’re pregnant 1 week after you’ve missed a period.
While you can take a test earlier than this if you want, you risk getting a false negative result. If you take the test too early, there may not be enough hCG in your urine yet for the test to detect it.
Also, every person’s body is a bit different. One person may get a positive result as early as a day after their period, while another person’s positive results may not show up for another week.
Blood tests can often detect hCG earlier in a pregnancy than urine tests. Blood tests can give a positive result as early as 6 to 8 daysTrusted Source after ovulation, while urine tests do so about 3 weeks after ovulation.
A medical professional usually does blood tests.
Pregnancy symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and breast tenderness sometimes occur even before you miss a period. These symptoms may give you the idea that you’re pregnant, but only a test will tell for sure.
The Office on Women’s HealthTrusted Source advises that if you get a negative result on a home pregnancy test, take another test a week later to recheck.
Some home pregnancy tests are more accurate than others. Here is a list of the best home pregnancy tests.
When should I take a pregnancy test?
If you think you might be pregnant, the best time to take a home pregnancy test is 1 week after you first miss a period.
A blood test can often reveal a pregnancy much earlier, but it must be done at a doctor’s office or clinical setting.
When should I make a doctor’s appointment?
If you get a positive result on a home pregnancy test, you should call a doctor right away, according to the Office on Women’s HealthTrusted Source. The doctor can prescribe a more sensitive test and perform a pelvic exam to determine if you’re pregnant.
The Office on Women’s HealthTrusted Source recommends you make an appointment with a medical professional as early as possible in your pregnancy. You can then schedule regular prenatal visits throughout your pregnancy.
Your body will go through significant changes in early pregnancy. You may see signs such as nausea, breast tenderness, and the hallmark symptom of a missed period.
If you think you might be pregnant, a good first step is to take a home pregnancy test. Tests are widely available without a prescription in pharmacies and other stores.
If you receive a positive result, call a doctor for an appointment. They will perform an examination and a further test to confirm your pregnancy. You can then get started on a prenatal program to safeguard your and the fetus’s health.
To receive week-by-week guidance about early pregnancy symptoms and more, sign up for our I’m Expecting newsletter.