Understanding the early signs of pregnancy
Maybe your period’s late or your boobs are sore – whatever the signs, you really think you might be pregnant. So what do you do? Here’s our guide to finding out for sure if you’re pregnant, what the early signs of pregnancy are, and working out what to do first!
At a glance
- You can do a test from the first day of your missed period
- It is common to have some bleeding throughout the first few months of pregnancy
- Tender boobs and feeling nauseous are common signs of pregnancy
Noticing the early signs of pregnancy
You may notice the early signs of pregnancy as little as within one week of conception. Most early pregnancy symptoms occur within the first four weeks and may include:
- A late period
- Slight bleeding or cramping as the embryo implants in your uterus (implantation bleeding)
- Tender breasts that seem to be growing already!
- Extreme tiredness... yes, it might not just be too many late nights, after all!
Top five early signs of pregnancy
- Nausea or sickness can start very early for some women – a common early sign of pregnancy will be morning sickness. This will usually start when you’re around six weeks pregnant. It might just be nausea but can also include vomiting and despite its name, can happen at any time day or night.
- Needing to have a wee more often – when you become pregnant, an early sign may the need to wee more. This is down to a combination of pregnancy hormones, a larger volume of blood in your system and your kidneys working harder
- Headaches - You may experience headaches in the early stages of pregnancy. This is due to the sudden rise of hormones in your body as it adjusts to being pregnant
- Darkening of the skin around your nipples – another common early sign of pregnancy will be the skin around your nipples (the areolas) getting darker. You may also find the nipples become erect and the bumps around your nipples more pronounced.
- Food cravings or aversions – It’s possible you might be put off by certain foods, especially if you’re experiencing nausea from morning sickness too! However you may also find that you develop cravings for certain foods (and perhaps strange ones!) from an very early stage of your pregnancy
Do a home pregnancy test
First you want to know for sure if you’re pregnant and the best way is by doing a pregnancy test. Just visit your GP or buy a kit from your local chemist. You can do a test from the first day of your missed period. It takes two weeks from when you conceive for the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) to show in your urine, so try not to test too early. It’s possible that your first test might be a negative but if you’re displaying the common early signs of pregnancy and you’re period hasn’t arrived, you should re-test a few days later to confirm.
Still having periods
It’s surprisingly common to have ‘break-though’ bleeding or ‘implantation’ bleeding during the first few months of pregnancy. It’s thought this could be due to the egg implanting in your uterus or the hormones that regulate your period being higher. It even means some people don’t realise they’re pregnant for a while. Always, get it checked out though, to make sure there isn't a problem.
See your doctor if you’re displaying the early signs of pregnancy
The first thing you need to do is see your doctor or local midwife, who can get you registered with the maternity services in your local area. They are a great source of information and support if you’re ever unsure of anything during your pregnancy.
Mixed emotions are normal
Finding out you’re pregnant is huge! You might feel wildly excited one minute and terrified the next, and your partner might be on a rollercoaster, too. Not only are you processing major news, but your body is changing fast and dealing with a riot of new hormones. So if you’re feeling a bit all over the shop, it’s perfectly normal!
Keep taking folic acid
Taking folic acid during pregnancy helps lower your unborn baby’s risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects. The Department of Health recommends you take a daily 400 micrograms (mcg) supplement three months before conception, ideally, and up to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Wait to tell people
The nanosecond you find out you’re pregnant you’ll probably want to call everyone you know, share it on every social media channel you have, and sing it from the rooftops - and you absolutely can. But many people play it safe and wait until their first scan at around 12 weeks before sharing their fantastic news.
Stay off the booze
It’s best that you avoid drinking alcohol if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant. This is because alcohol passes from your blood through the placenta and to your baby, potentially affecting their development and even increasing the risk of miscarriage early on. If you’re already displaying the early signs of pregnancy then you should be avoiding alcohol.
Bond with other mums-to-be
There’s so much to think about when you first get pregnant, and one of the best bits is making new friends who are in exactly the same boat. So come and find mums-to-be in the Bounty Community.
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