Do you think you might be pregnant? Learn about the early signs of being pregnant and what they tell you. You might know even before menstruation is due!
Looking for the first signs of pregnancy can be exciting, frustrating, and filled with mixed hope and despair.
Suppose you are charting your BBT (basal body temperature). In that case, it is entirely possible to notice the early pregnancy signs already before your menstruation is due, probably during the fourth week of pregnancy. Most other symptoms (like tender breasts, for example) might just as well indicate that your period is about to start if they appear during the first two weeks after ovulation.
In any case, some symptoms are pretty clear indicators of pregnancy, while others may be a symptom of something else entirely. Let’s take a look at some of these.
The Most Important Early Pregnancy Signs
In this article:
How Common Is It to Experience Early Pregnancy Signs?
Early signs of being pregnant are common. They may not show up before you already know that you are pregnant, but in any case, they will make you feel more and more pregnant as the weeks go by.
According to a research study (reference below) on 1500 women, the pregnancy symptoms of nausea, vomiting, pelvic cavity pain, and back pain were the most common symptoms if taking the whole pregnancy into consideration, and 88% reported having two or more symptoms simultaneously.
During the first trimester, nausea was reported by approximately 80% of women, while vomiting affected 35%–40%. Frequencies in the order of 25%–50% have also been described for symptoms such as vulvar itching, vaginal bleeding, and pelvic cavity pain.
The majority of women (88%) experienced two or more symptoms during the first trimester, and only 2% had no symptoms.
It may seem odd that vaginal bleeding is brought up in the study as a pregnancy symptom. However, while it is not an actual sign of being pregnant, vaginal bleeding is common in early pregnancy. The reasons for this are, for example, intercourse, an infection, the fertilized egg implanting in the uterus, and hormone changes. It can also indicate a possible miscarriage.
BBT Temperature Rise & Implantation Bleeding
Some women do get indications of being pregnant before menstruation is late. The two most common (but still quite uncommon) pregnancy symptoms that occur really early are:
- Implantation bleeding
- A raised BBT (Body Basal Temperature) in connection to or right after the implantation (bleeding or not).
The implantation of the egg into the uterus lining occurs on average 9 days after ovulation. In any case, it occurs when you are 4 weeks pregnant, more or less.
Some women (but not the majority) get small bleeding at the time of the implantation, called implantation bleeding. For most women, however, experiencing bleeding 9 days after ovulation is, unfortunately, a sign that menstruation is on its way.
But if you do BBT charting and notice a second temperature rise at around the 9th day after ovulation, then this is a very interesting sign of being pregnant. I actually got an indication for two of my three pregnancies that way. Again BBT charting can be difficult to get completely right, and the temperature can vary for many reasons. But if you are a veteran BBT charter, and you get a second temperature rise around 9 or 10 days after ovulation AND small implantation bleeding, then it might actually be quite a certain sign of pregnancy. You do need a good enough thermometer for BBT charting. It doesn’t have to be very expensive – but very accurate. :-) But even relatively cheap ones will do the job!
You can learn more about charting basal body temperature here.
Lack Of a Menstrual Period
For most women, the first thing noticed is the lack of a menstrual period. This is one of the signs of being pregnant that is a pretty clear indicator. There may, of course, also be other reasons for a missed period, such as stress or if you have been on a very extreme exercise regimen.
Another sign of being pregnant is nausea or so-called morning sickness. Not everyone experiences this symptom, and it is not always in the morning. Morning sickness can strike at any time. Usually, it only lasts for a little while each time and subsides at around 10 weeks pregnant. There may be other reasons for feeling ill such as a virus or the onset of the flu, but they will usually be accompanied by other symptoms as well.
While hard to endure, morning sickness is actually a good sign. You can read about the benefits of morning sickness here.
Also, remember that there are at least some remedies for morning sickness that are proven to be effective.
One of the earlier signs of being pregnant may be feeling unusually tired. This is due to the changes your body is beginning to go through. For many women, tiredness is not enough to describe the feeling; they are completely exhausted! Falling asleep at 7 PM on the couch night after night is actually a sign of being pregnant :-)
The main reason for this exhaustion during the first trimester is hormonal changes. There is not much to do about that other than adapt, sleep more, and eat well. You are highly likely to feel better in a month or two.
Somewhat later in pregnancy, iron deficiency is another common reason for feeling weak and exhausted.
While it is very common to feel tired during early pregnancy, it is not a certain sign of pregnancy, as you may also be tired for many other reasons.
Need to Pee More often
More frequent urination is a common early pregnancy sign, sometimes even before menstruation is due. This has to do with an increased blood volume, making the kidneys filter more blood than usual. The more blood in your body, the more you’ll have to pee.
Sore breasts may indicate pregnancy. Or menstruation is on its way. While sore, swollen breasts are very common in early pregnancy, it is a very difficult sign to interpret since it is also such a common premenstrual sign. But together with some of the other signs described, sore breasts may give you a hint that you conceived.
Many women experience heartburn when they become pregnant. They may not have ever had it before, but suddenly they are getting heartburn frequently. Although this is one of the signs of being pregnant, there are other causes. Spicy foods will cause it for some people. Acid reflux can develop and cause heartburn. It is best to check with your doctor for recurring heartburn.
Swollen And Tender Breasts
Swollen and tender breasts similar to the onset of a period may occur. If your period is late by several days and you continue to have sore breasts, then it is definitely time to do a pregnancy test!
Learn more about how your breasts change during pregnancy here.
Cravings For Certain Foods
Cravings for certain foods are also a sign of pregnancy. According to research, some 60% of all women experience some sort of food cravings during pregnancy.
A theory is that the body is making sure that it gets every type of nutrient that it needs for the development of the fetus. Fruits, milk, milk products, salty foods, and chocolate are among the most common cravings among pregnant women.
Aversion To Certain Foods
Coffee lovers suddenly can’t stand the taste of coffee. Meat lovers become nauseated by the smell of meat. Aversion to certain foods is yet another pregnancy sign.
Interestingly, Valerie Duffy, Ph.D., an associate professor in the School of Allied Health at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, has found that women tend to have an intensified perception of bitterness during the first trimester. The assumption is that this prevented pregnant women in old times from consuming toxic plants and fruits that often have a bitter taste. For today’s women, it may also warn women not to consume alcohol during this very sensitive phase of fetal development.
Mood swings may be one of the signs of being pregnant. This is due to the hormonal changes the body is going through.
The bouts of crying and feeling sad are just normal parts of the changes. Keep in mind that in and of itself, this is not a positive sign of pregnancy. You could be having mood swings due to PMS (premenstrual syndrome), depression, or something more serious.
These are the eleven most common early signs of pregnancy. One by one, they may not be very certain pregnancy indicators, but if you experience several at the same time, buying a pregnancy test might be a good idea. :-)
For a recap and more information, check out this video.
If you want to learn more about fertility, have a look at the books below. And please share your pregnancy signs by commenting below or by sharing your experiences in our poll on pregnancy signs.
- Lutterodt MC, Kähler P, Kragstrup J, Nicolaisdottir DR, Siersma V, Ertmann RK. Examining to what extent pregnancy-related physical symptoms worry women in the first trimester of pregnancy: a cross-sectional study in general practice. BJGP Open. 2019 Nov 12;3(4):bjgpopen19X101674.
- MedlinePlus [Internet]. LaQuita Martinez (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); Vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy. [updated 2022 Nov 21].
- Cleveland Clinic. Am I Pregnant? [Last reviewed 2022 July 26]
- Raul Artal-Mittelmark , MD: Merck Manual Consumer Version. Physical Changes During Pregnancy. [Modified Sep 2022]
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing is based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians that you find here. They write or review all health-related articles.