Many women imagine that the minute they get pregnant they will just know. That's how it's often portrayed in movies and television shows. While some women do have a pregnant feeling that they can't ignore, others miss signs that there is a baby on board and skip taking a pregnancy test because the idea of being pregnant hasn't occurred to them yet.
The confusion is understandable. Many early signs of pregnancy are also signs of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), so mom may think she's about to get her period when she's actually growing a baby. Plus, every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Some women have early symptoms that are very pronounced, while others say they didn't notice much change in the beginning. Women who are trying to get pregnant are more likely to look for signs of pregnancy than women who become pregnant by surprise.
What's important is that mom does find out she's pregnant as soon as possible, and to do that she does need to recognize the signs. Women with thyroid disorders or other problems will likely need medication adjusted in the early weeks of pregnancy, and women who smoke, drink, or anything else that can harm the baby need to stop immediately. It's also important to be on folic acid as soon as mom has a hint she might be pregnant since this can make a big difference in the baby's development.
Here are the early signs that a baby is on board.
Women have a lot on their plates that can explain away the exhaustion that comes with the first trimester. That’s why many women miss this early sign that may have them wanting to sleep at the office or stay in bed all day on weekends.
Even before mom receives a positive pregnancy test, her body knows to send resources to the baby, so mom will feel the effect by being so tired that she can barely get through the day. The exhaustion will pass, usually after the first trimester, but it is a very early and accurate sign of pregnancy in many cases.
Not every woman goes through morning sickness, and even those who do may attribute those first waves of nausea to a bad reaction to a certain food, low blood pressure, or even just stress. However, nausea is an early sign of pregnancy. The nausea doesn’t always have to lead to vomiting, though some women do throw up quite a bit while pregnant. Many women simply report feeling off and not quite right in those early days.
Nausea that keeps mom from partaking in regular activities will usually drive her to a pregnancy test. However, if nausea is mild and comes and goes, mom may not see it as a sign of pregnancy.
18 Food Aversions
There are times when certain foods sound good and others don’t, but many women don’t know this can be a sign of pregnancy. Even innocuous foods can suddenly feel like the enemy in those early days of pregnancy, and mom may find that eating or drinking is a challenge.
Some women blame a virus or food poisoning, but these food aversions can show up without any other signs of illness, like vomiting. If mom is already experiencing nausea, the aversions can be especially confusing, causing a woman to pass the signs off for anything but pregnancy. However, if she keeps finding herself avoiding certain foods, a pregnancy test is in order.
A tricky part about early pregnancy symptoms is they can feel a lot like PMS symptoms. Cramping early in pregnancy is common, and these cramps may feel like premenstrual cramps, so mom doesn’t know that anything is different.
Women cramp due to the implantation process, but there isn’t a way to tell if this cramping is different than PMS cramping until a pregnancy test comes back positive. Many women don’t even remember the cramping associated with early pregnancy because cramping is so normal for most women every month. The cramping early in pregnancy is generally not a bad sign and is simply evidence that the baby is making a home.
16 Tender Breasts
One of the earliest and often overlooked signs of pregnancy is breast tenderness. Since it’s normal for a woman to experience with breast tenderness when experiencing PMS, it’s easy to assume that the pain is coming from an upcoming period. This pain also usually starts about the time a woman would expect breast pain, making it even more confusing.
Most women say that pregnant breast pain is a more intense pain, especially at the beginning. It also doesn’t let up since a period never arrives. The pain does not stay horribly bad throughout pregnancy, but it is usually ever present on some level.
Chocolate? Steak? French bread? Women have cravings when pregnant, such as the pickles and ice cream cliché. Most women also admit that PMS causes cravings, and many times women give in because the draw to the sugar or carbs is so strong.
When mom is newly pregnant, she may be both experiencing food aversion and intense cravings, wanting nothing to do with certain smells and tastes while being overcome with a desire for other foods.
It’s okay to give in to some of the cravings while pregnant, but mom needs to remember that she’s not really eating for two. She also needs to keep most of her foods on the healthy side to give her growing baby the nutrients he or she needs.
14 Mood Swings
Mood swings are an issue during all parts of pregnancy. Hormones are all over the place, and mom will likely find herself swinging between extremes, from crying to laughing, from being excited to being petrified. When these mood swings strike in the beginning, the exhaustion mom is already feeling is usually blamed. Many women also mistake the moods for PMS.
The second trimester usually leaves mom feeling a bit more stable, but her moods will continue to fluctuate throughout pregnancy. It’s normal and expected based on all the changes she is going through, but that doesn’t make it easy to handle.
13 Missed Period
One of the most obvious signs, and the one that usually makes mom the most suspicious, is an absent period. For women who keep a calendar and know when they are supposed to start, this may be like an alarm going off in their heads. However, for the woman who doesn’t pay attention to when she is supposed to start or who has erratic periods, she may not realize that anything is even different.
A missed period can also be a sign of other things, such as mom’s stress level being too high or her body mass going too low. This sign is most often associated with pregnancy, though, and it should signal mom to purchase a pregnancy test and see what she finds. That is, if she notices her period has been missed.
12 The Pregnant Feeling
There is sometimes a feeling, an underlying sensation, that something is different. Mom may register this change, but not know what it means. Some people say it simply feels like being pregnant, but a woman who has been trying and failing to get pregnant may not trust this feeling. It’s hard to get hopes up and then find out that feeling wasn’t real.
Women often ignore this feeling out of fear of it being fake or just something they feel because they want to be pregnant so much. In hindsight, most moms can look back and pinpoint when they first felt pregnant, even if they didn’t pay the feeling much attention at the time.
11 Temperature Changes
There's a reason a woman hoping to get pregnant will track her basal body temperature. The resting body temp is naturally higher after ovulation, and women who track their fertile days know this. What some women may not know is that the basal body temperature stays elevated if mom is pregnant. If her period arrives, it goes back down to normal.
If mom feels a bit feverish, sweaty, or like she can't stay cool, pregnancy could be the culprit. Some women even sweat more early on, not sure why they are suddenly in need of extra strength deodorant until they find out they are expecting.
10 Late, Light Period
It might not be absolutely accurate to call what happens during those early days of pregnancy a period. While most women skip their periods altogether once pregnancy strikes, some may believe they are getting a period due to implantation bleeding. The bleeding that occurs when implantation takes place causes cramping, light bleeding, and can arrive around the time a period would usually occur.
If mom suspects she's pregnant, then she needs to let her doctor know immediately if she has heavy bleeding. Light bleeding or spotting without a lot of excruciating pain is usually not a problem, but other types may be a sign of miscarriage.
9 Back Pain
Back pain isn't just for when mom puts on pregnancy pounds or has back labor. It can start before mom even knows she's pregnant because of the way her body has to prepare to accommodate the baby.
Joints and ligaments are loosening up so the baby can grow, and mom's center of gravity is changing since she is focusing on holding up her front, even if she doesn't realize it yet. This can put a new kind of pressure on her back that increases as pregnancy continues.
Mom can find many things to blame her back pain on, and most women really don't understand that these kind of aches and pains can start so early.
8 Constant Need to Go To The Washroom
It's a standing joke among pregnant women that getting to the bathroom fast enough is a real challenge. What most women don't realize is the urgent desire to urinate starts very early and can be a sign of pregnancy, even before mom thinks to grab a pregnancy test.
Mom's body will already be responding to all the changes inside by making her rush to the restroom more often than usual, but some women assume this is a PMS sign while others may think they have a bladder infection. Don't be fooled. The baby affects the bladder pretty much from day one, and this problem will only get worse as pregnancy continues.
7 Dizzy Spells
Getting dizzy is not a great feeling, and mom may be surprised to find out it's a perfectly normal part of early pregnancy. Mom may find she has trouble focusing or moving without her head feeling off, and if she thinks she might be pregnant, dizziness is a great sign that she needs to go ahead and take a test.
The baby needs blood, and mom's body will make sure the baby gets it. Mom's blood vessels will get wider, and this can lead to a drop in her blood pressure. When the blood pressure falls, mom may not feel so great and dizziness can occur. What's good for the baby doesn't always make mom feel great, but that's how pregnancy sometimes works.
6 Changes With The Girls
The girls won't just feel sensitive and extremely tender in those early days of pregnancy. The mom who is paying attention will notice physical changes that are hard to ignore. Her chest will suddenly appear like a road map with prominent blue veins as highways, and her areolas will darken in a noticeable way.
Mom may even feel like her bras are getting a bit snug because the body starts preparing for breast milk early. Fat will increase in that area, and more blood will be flowing in that region. PMS can't account for all of these changes, and that's why breast changes can be a major early sign.
5 Super Scent
The good news is mom may stop and smell the roses more often while pregnant because her sense of smell will be so attuned to everything around her. The bad news is she may get sick from just catching a whiff of something that doesn't agree with her pregnant self.
Many women report being able to smell everything anywhere near them while pregnant, and this can make dealing with food aversions even harder. The woman who doesn't want to eat chicken will also likely not have an easy time smelling it.
Why the sense of smell gets an early boost is unknown, but pregnant women swear it's both a blessing and a curse. It's also an early sign that mom is expecting.
Before mom knows she's having a real baby, she may feel very bloated and assume it's a burrito baby. Most women think they can't even see body changes so early in pregnancy, but bloating is an early change that points to hormonal shifts, causing mom to feel a bit rounder in the front. She will also likely be uncomfortable.
Because women sometimes bloat when experiencing from PMS, this is an easy sign to miss. Even certain foods have a more bloating effect than others, and if mom ate an offending food, she may just assume her bloating will pass when she digests it properly. However, that bloating will turn into a baby bump soon if mom is pregnant.
For the woman who experiences migraines or headaches on a regular basis, this sign of pregnancy may not mean much to her. For the woman who has not struggled with this kind of pain, the head shattering pain of early pregnancy headaches can be a shock. Though some women do get headaches around PMS, migraines specifically are connected to pregnancy, and they can be intense.
The reasons are two fold. Mom's hormones are adjusting throughout pregnancy, and that first trimester is a trip down a very bumpy hormonal road that is ever shifting. Mom is also producing more blood, and this means blood vessels have to expand. This starts early and can be a pain in the brain, literally, for mom.
Changes in the bowel department are a sign of pregnancy, and mom will likely struggle with these issues throughout the gestation period. Due to the hormone progesterone slowing down mom's digestion, constipation may occur. There's also the chance that mom won't feel like drinking or eating enough due to nausea and food aversions, and that can make matters even worse.
Many pregnant women struggle with hemorrhoids as pregnancy progresses, but early on mom may just notice she isn't going to the bathroom as often or as easily as before. Pregnancy may be to blame, and mom needs to up her water intake and eat some high fiber foods to keep things moving.
Having a baby and looking like a teenager in need of pimple cream? Yes, these two things can absolutely go together, even if mom is out of her adolescent years. Acne is a very real part of early pregnancy, with some women struggling more with this issue than others.
Blame hormones because they are pretty much responsible for everything. The rapid fluctuations can cause acne to sprinkle mom’s face, but the mom who has always struggled with acne during PMS may not notice this symptom. It is important that mom doesn’t use any kind of acne cream that contains chemicals that can affect the baby, and that’s why it’s wise not to ignore this symptom, even if it seems normal.