Am I pregnant

What are the early signs of pregnancy?

Those very first signs of pregnancy, what to expect and your pregnancy symptoms explained

Understanding the early signs of pregnancy

Late period, sore boobs, weird tastes in your mouth – there are a lot of early signs and symptoms that suggest you might be pregnant and you may experience very early on in your pregnancy

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

Woman holding tummy

You may notice the very earliest signs of pregnancy in as little as one week of conception. Most early pregnancy symptoms occur within the first four weeks and first signs of pregnancy may include:

  • A missed period
  • Slight bleeding or cramping as the embryo implants in your uterus (implantation bleeding)
  • Sore breasts that seem to be growing already!
  • Extreme tiredness... yes, it might not just be too many late nights, after all! You may find that you're tired after a relatively 'normal' day, so listen to your body and rest up when you can
  • Backache

Top 5 early symptoms of pregnancy

  1. Nausea or sickness can start very early for some women – a common early pregnancy symptom will be morning sickness. This will usually start when you’re around 6 weeks pregnant. It might just be nausea but can also include vomiting and despite its name, can happen at any time day or night.

  2. Needing to wee more often - This is down to a combination of pregnancy hormones, a larger volume of blood in your system and your kidneys working harder

  3. Headaches - You may experience headaches due to the sudden rise of hormones in your body as it adjusts to being pregnant.

  4. Darkening of the skin around your nipples – The skin around your nipples (the areolas) will get darker. You may also find the nipples become erect and the bumps around your nipples more pronounced.

  5. 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!)


There are a lot more pregnancy symptoms that can be your body’s way of letting you know you are pregnant.

Period pains

You might not expect this, as you may have missed your period, but you can experience pains at the time you would expect your period. Not the most common symptom, but some women do experience it.  

Tummy twinges

A slightly odd pregnancy symptom but you might feel like your muscles are almost being pinched from the inside or even stretched, you may experience this on one side of your tummy and then later on the other side of your tummy.

Bloated tummy

Caused by the pregnancy hormone progesterone, you can actually show signs of a bump before your baby has even grown. You could feel full and swollen, particularly after a meal.

Stomach cramps

Your ligaments can start stretching very early as your uterus changes shape and this can cause some to feel stomach cramps. 

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Even though going to the loo more often is in itself associated with early signs of pregnancy, it can also be a sign of a urinary or bladder infection. This is common in the early stages of your pregnancy due to your changing hormones. If you think you may have a UTI, visit your GP.

Thrush

We can blame the increasing level of the hormone progesterone, for thrush. A sign of thrush can be increased cervical mucus and it may be thicker and creamier. Experiencing itching, soreness, and even a stinging sensation when you wee can all be symptoms of thrush.

Trapped wind

Trapped wind can be very painful and you can experience it in very early pregnancy. Passing the wind can make you feel better instantly.

Constipation

An early symptom of pregnancy can be the onset of constipation that once again is due to changes in your hormone progesterone.

Diarrhoea

The polar opposite of constipation, you could also suffer with diarrhoea in the early stages of pregnancy. 

Strange metallic taste in the mouth

Described as a sour or metallic taste in the mouth which is known as dysgeusia. 

More saliva

It’s not uncommon to experience more saliva in your mouth and this can often be highlighted by a little drool on the pillow when you wake up in the morning!

Dry mouth

Where some experience excess saliva, others may have the complete opposite, a dry mouth. Try drinking more water to avoid an instance of a dry mouth. 

Bleeding gums

Some can experience bleeding of the gums especially when you brush your teeth. It is the hormonal changes that make your gums more sensitive than usual to the bacteria in plaque. Make an appointment with the dentist for a hygiene check up at some point in your pregnancy to ensure your gums are in good health.

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.

There are some other factors to think about, including:

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 think you're pregnant

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 roller coaster 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.

Avoid alcohol

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.

Which symptoms indicate a twin pregnancy?

There are around 12,000 twin births each year and these numbers have been on the increase since 1980, though no one is certain why. Several factors could be responsible – fertility drugs, assisted conception techniques and even maternal age (older mothers are more likely to conceive multiples).

The likelihood of conceiving twins is higher if there is a maternal history of multiple pregnancies, though whether the father’s family history plays a role is uncertain. What the experts do know though is that if you already have fraternal (non-identical) twins, triplets or more, then you are five times more likely to carry multiples in your next pregnancy.

With a twin pregnancy your hormone levels will be higher than those with a single pregnancy, so you are more likely to suffer morning sickness, but there are things you can do about it. The main cause of morning sickness is low blood sugar, so eating little and often is a good way to maintain your sugar levels. 

Inevitably, there are aches, pains and discomforts along the way because of the sheer scale of the task you are accomplishing. If any symptoms worry you, talk to your doctor or midwife so they can reassure you or look in to things further. 

Next steps in your pregnancy

Finding out you’re expecting a baby or twins can be a big surprise. Some parents are delighted with the news, whereas others may be anxious at how they will cope. However you feel, remember many parents have not only survived the experience, but thrive with a newborn or twins.

Seeing your babies at the first ultrasound can really help you digest the news and make it all feel more real. Getting practical and making plans can really help you feel in control of the situation. 

For more information on how your baby is developing and changes to your body, track your pregnancy week by week.

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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
Your period is late, your boobs are sore and you're feeling nauseous - it's time for a pregnancy test!

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