What are common symptoms of pregnancy?

Everyone experiences different symptoms of pregnancy and at different times. It’s important not to compare your pregnancy to someone else’s because pregnancy symptoms can vary so dramatically.

There are several signs of early pregnancy that you may or may not have. The most common symptoms include:

  • A missed period: The most common and obvious sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Once conception has happened, your body produces hormones that stop ovulation and the shedding of the lining of your uterus. This means that your menstrual cycle has stopped and you won’t have a period again until after your baby is born. But missing your period isn’t always a sign of pregnancy. You can also miss your period from stress, excessive exercise, dieting, hormone imbalances and other factors that might cause irregular periods.
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom: Before you even miss a period, you may notice that you have to pee more often. This happens because you have more blood than before. During pregnancy, your body’s blood supply increases. Your kidneys filter your blood and remove the extra waste. This waste leaves your body as pee. The more blood in your body, the more you’ll have to pee.
  • Fatigue (feeling tired): Many people feel extremely tired in early pregnancy. This sign of pregnancy happens because of high levels of the hormone progesterone. Similar to other early pregnancy symptoms, fatigue tends to get better in the second trimester (after week 13 of pregnancy). However, it does come back in the third trimester for many people.
  • Morning (and noon and night) sickness: Despite the name, this pregnancy symptom can happen at any time of the day or night. Nausea can happen as early as two weeks into a pregnancy. Not everyone experiences nausea and there are various levels of nausea. You can feel nausea but never vomit. About half of pregnant people vomit due to nausea. Though nausea during pregnancy is fairly normal, it can be a problem if you become dehydrated. People who can’t keep down food and fluids because of extreme nausea could have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. Contact your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing extreme nausea and dehydration.
  • Sore (and swollen) breasts: Your breasts can become tender to the touch during pregnancy. The soreness may be similar to the way your breasts feel before a period, only more so. Your areolas (the area around your nipple) might also begin to darken and enlarge. This soreness is temporary and fades once your body gets used to the increased hormones. You may also notice that your breasts have gotten larger and your bra is tighter than normal.

Remember, the only way to know for sure that you’re pregnant is to take a pregnancy test or have your healthcare provider perform an ultrasound.

What are some less common signs of early pregnancy?

There are some additional signs of early pregnancy that aren’t as common. Just like with the most common symptoms, these signs of pregnancy may or may not happen. It’s important to remember that everyone is different and experiences signs of pregnancy differently.

Less common signs of early pregnancy can include:

  • Spotting (also called implantation bleeding): Though it may seem like a bad sign, light bleeding (spotting) can be a sign that an embryo has implanted in the lining of your uterus. Implantation takes place about 10 days after conception. Implantation bleeding looks like small drops of blood or a brownish discharge from your vagina. It can start around the time of your regular period and can last for a few days to a few weeks. Spotting can cause some people to think they have just had a light period and aren’t pregnant.
  • Food cravings, constant hunger and food aversions: Food can be complicated during early pregnancy. Some people begin to crave certain foods or feel constantly hungry. While some foods and flavors may seem wonderful in early pregnancy, others might suddenly taste unpleasant. Food aversions can happen throughout pregnancy, making you dislike things you previously enjoyed.
  • Metallic taste in your mouth: Many people say that they experience a metallic taste in their mouths during the early stages of pregnancy. It may taste like you have a pile of coins in your mouth. This can happen when you eat certain foods or randomly throughout the day.
  • Headaches and dizziness: Headaches and the feelings of lightheadedness and dizziness are common during early pregnancy. This happens because of both the hormonal changes in your body and your increasing blood volume.
  • Cramping: You can also experience mild, period-like cramps that come and go over a few days. If these cramps are felt mainly on one side of your body or are severe, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider immediately. This could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or other complication.
  • Mood swings: As your hormones continue to change, you could experience mood swings. This is normal and can happen throughout pregnancy. However, if you ever feel anxious, depressed or have thoughts of harming yourself, it’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider.
  • Congestion: Some people experience a stuffy nose in early pregnancy due to the increase in hormone levels and blood. The mucous membranes in your nose become dry and are more likely to bleed.
  • Bloating: While it may take several weeks or months to have a noticeable baby bump, the surge of hormones can cause your stomach to feel bloated and lead to passing gas more than usual.
  • Acne or skin changes: Your increased hormones and blood volume are to blame for any skin changes you experience. While some people get a pregnancy glow and clearer skin during pregnancy, others may get more pimples.

How early do pregnancy symptoms start?

It varies. Some people feel pregnant within a few days of conception, while other people don’t feel pregnant for weeks after a positive pregnancy test. Pregnancy symptoms vary between people and even between pregnancies.

Can you feel pregnant before you miss your period?

Yes, you can feel pregnant before you miss your period. Some people say they’ve felt pregnancy symptoms within a week of conception (about one week before a missed period).

Could I have the symptoms of early pregnancy and not be pregnant?

Many of the symptoms of early pregnancy overlap with other medical conditions, as well as your typical menstrual cycle. Premenstrual symptoms can be very similar to pregnancy symptoms. This can make it difficult to tell the difference. You can also miss a period and not be pregnant. This can happen when you lose or gain a lot of weight or are stressed. Breastfeeding can also cause your period to stop.

The best way to know you’re pregnant is to take a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests are available at your local pharmacy or grocery store without a prescription.

How soon can I take a pregnancy test?

Pregnancy tests work by detecting a certain level of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) in your pee. You can take a pregnancy test as soon as you’ve missed your period. However, it’s best to wait at least one week after you’ve missed your period to get the most accurate results. While some tests claim to give you accurate results before a missed period, taking a test too soon can result in a false negative (the test says you aren’t pregnant, but you are).

Your healthcare provider can take a blood sample to test for pregnancy as early as one week before a missed period.

When should I call my doctor about a new pregnancy?

If you’ve missed your period and gotten a positive pregnancy test, your next step will be to call your healthcare provider for your first appointment. While scheduling, your provider may ask if you have already started taking a prenatal vitamin containing folic acid. Prenatal vitamins are important in early pregnancy because they help in the development of your baby’s neural tube. The neural tube will become your baby’s brain and spine. Many healthcare providers recommend that anyone who could become pregnant take folic acid at all times.

If you’re planning a pregnancy, a preconception appointment with your healthcare provider is a good place to start. A preconception appointment is especially important if you take medication for a chronic illness or have other medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure or lupus.

During this appointment, your provider will discuss any current medical conditions, as well as your general health before pregnancy. This appointment is meant to get you into the best place for a new pregnancy.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Everyone experiences pregnancy differently. Things like missing your period, sore or tender breasts, feeling more tired and nausea (morning sickness) are common symptoms of early pregnancy. Some people have symptoms of pregnancy before they miss their period. Take an at-home pregnancy test if you think you might be pregnant. They’re available at most grocery stores and are highly accurate when used correctly. Call your healthcare provider if you get a positive result. Early prenatal care is important and ensures you and your unborn baby are healthy.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/26/2022.

References

  • US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. Prenatal Care. (https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/prenatal-care) Accessed 7/26/2022.
  • Merck Manual Consumer Version. Physical Changes During Pregnancy. (https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/normal-pregnancy/physical-changes-during-pregnancy) Accessed 7/26/2022.
  • American Pregnancy Association. Early Signs of Pregnancy. (https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-symptoms/early-signs-of-pregnancy/) Accessed 7/26/2022.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Morning Sickness: Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy. (https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/pregnancy/morning-sickness-nausea-and-vomiting-of-pregnancy) Accessed 7/26/2022.

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