You’ve just got that feeling. You’re certain the sperm has met the egg, but you want to know for sure. Waiting those ten days after ovulation to take a home pregnancy test can be brutal! Before you can get the BFP (Big Fat Positive!) from a home test, here are 15 of the early pregnancy symptoms to look out for:
Signs of Pregnancy video
Watch Genevieve unpack the 15 earliest (and weirdest) pregnancy symptoms
Pregnancy Symptom #1. Changes in your breasts
Maybe you’ve noticed your breasts are swollen, tender and sore. Or perhaps your nipples are darkening and protruding in preparation for breastfeeding. Your areolas may also get larger. For some women, breast tenderness in early pregnancy feels suspiciously like the usual symptoms of PMS, but for others, it’s distinctly different.
“The earliest sign of my first pregnancy was that my nipples started to look like my mother’s,” says Ilana, now a mama of three.
Pregnancy Symptom #2. Frequent urination
If you find yourself getting up routinely at night for trips to the bathroom, it could be an early sign that a fertilized egg has begun implantation on the uterine wall. The hCG hormone—sometimes called “pregnancy hormone”—often triggers frequent urges to pee even while the embryo is still very tiny and there’s no real pressure on your bladder from a growing baby. Not yet, anyway.
Pregnancy Symptom #3. Nausea
Call it morning sickness or all day sickness, but either way, nausea is a reality for many women in early pregnancy. About 50% of women will have vomiting along with nausea during their first trimester. While nausea may be a very early symptom of pregnancy, most women don’t experience vomiting until two weeks to two months after conception. For the majority of pregnant mamas, queasiness and vomiting will subside by the second trimester as production of the powerful hCG hormone plateaus.
Pregnancy Symptom #4. Fatigue and exhaustion
At conception, progesterone levels begin to rise rapidly and will continue to do so throughout your first trimester. Progesterone is the hormonal sustenance of pregnancy, preventing uterine contractions and inhibiting early immune responses. The downside? The sudden uptick in progesterone during early pregnancy may leave you utterly exhausted.
Pregnancy Symptom #5. A cold
With a tide of progesterone at work to keep your immune system from attacking the new (and foreign) DNA inside the body, it’s common for viruses and bacteria to use this opportunity to set up shop. A cold that would have been no biggie before pregnancy might knock you down after conception. Check out these tips to fight it off naturally.
Pregnancy Symptom #6. Puffy and sore gums
With the immune system at bay, mouth bacteria might also begin to flourish. Plus, as your body builds blood volume and fluid levels to nourish baby, you may already have tissue swelling (including your gums!) Be aware of inflamed, sore or bleeding gums, or puffy eyes and face, as a sign that pregnancy is underway.
Pregnancy Symptom #7. Cervical mucus
If you’ve been keeping track of your menstrual cycle as you prepare for pregnancy, you already know that cervical mucus increases and thickens during ovulation to help carry sperm to meet the egg. In a cycle without conception, the stretchy cervical mucus will dry up within 24 hours of ovulation. But if conception has occurred, then this cervical mucus will continue to be produced for multiple days after the date of ovulation. This mucus will actually continue on some level throughout your entire pregnancy as it keeps the vagina clean and reduces the chances of bad bacteria approaching your baby.
The difference is subtle, but for women who know their cycles and bodies well, it’s the earliest positive sign of pregnancy.
Pregnancy Symptom #8. Cramping and bloating
Don’t despair if you feel these classic symptoms of PMS while you’re hoping for a positive pregnancy test result. Implantation of the egg on the uterine wall can create the very same premenstrual symptoms but without your true period ever arriving. Many women experience mild uterine cramping as the egg implants, which can extend to a mild backache and abdominal bloating.
Pregnancy Symptom #9. Spotting
As the fertilized egg implants deeper into the thick uterine lining, you may experience several days of light bleeding. In fact, about 25-30% of pregnant women have spotting during the first few days of pregnancy.
Because implantation will likely occur around the time of your period during a regular menstrual cycle, you may mistake these few days of light bleeding for an actual period. Early pregnancy spotting, however, will be brownish or light pink in color and will not be enough to fill a pad or tampon.
Pregnancy Symptom #10. Food sensitivity and aversion
If you’re experiencing nausea, food aversion tends to just come with the territory. (Rethinking that beloved spicy kimchi?) But even without early pregnancy queasiness, you may find that your morning Joe no longer seem appealing, while other foods and drinks suddenly hit the spot. Hormone fluctuations around the time of conception and throughout early pregnancy can trigger cravings for some foods and sensitivity to others.
Pregnancy Symptom #11. Metallic taste
Perhaps the weirdest symptom of early pregnancy is a persistent metallic taste in the mouth that lingers even after eating food. Many women have reported this symptom in early pregnancy without understand where it came from or why it was happening.
But tasting pennies or aluminum is a true side effect of the hormonal shifts that are taking place in your body.
That metallic taste even has a medical name: dysgeusia. Estrogen levels have a remarkable effect on our sense of taste, and until hormone production stabilizes in the second trimester, that metallic taste might be here to stay.
Pregnancy Symptom #12. Temperature sensitivity
Freezing cold? Burning hot? Feeling just… strange? With all the hormonal changes of conception and early pregnancy, it’s no wonder that you might be feeling a bit off. If you know your body well, you’ll likely feel real changes in your sensory organs and your body’s internal thermostat soon after conception.
Pregnancy Symptom #13. Excess saliva
Are you all of a sudden drooling like Pavlov’s dog? What gives? Well, ptyalism gravidarum, the medical term for excess saliva is usually caused by the beginnings of morning sickness, acid reflux or heartburn, which are all very common in pregnancy. Progesterone relaxes the muscles in our body, which can cause the valve that closes the esophagus off from the stomach to stay slightly ajar. As a result, stomach acid can make its way north, leading to heartburn or acid reflux. Try sipping a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in 1/2 cup of water before meals to ease indigestion and help tame the saliva flow.
Additionally, progesterone can slow down digestion and the bowels (fun times!)
Pregnancy Symptom #14. Constipation
Well, progesterone again is to blame for this lovely symptom because it can slow down your bowels and their peristalsis movement. Be sure to drink enough water (1/2 your body weight in ounces) and boost your magnesium-rich foods. I also love this simple diet trick to get the bowels flowing with ease.
Pregnancy Symptom #15. Moodiness
If you’ve made it this far in the list, then you know, above all, early pregnancy means huge hormone fluctuations as your body begins the enormous process of growing a baby. So perhaps the least surprising symptom of these hormonal changes is their effect on your mood and emotions. Yes, you might find yourself feeling particularly hormonal during this time.
What’s behind these symptoms?
Peeing on a chemically prepared stick from the drugstore is the fastest and most convenient way to detect the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), or “the pregnancy hormone” in your urine. When you have a pregnancy blood test at the doctor’s office a few weeks later, they’re actually testing for the same hormone’s presence in your blood.
The new embryo begins to produce hCG immediately after it attaches to the uterine wall in the very first few days of pregnancy, even before you’ve had a missed period. It is the first hormone produced by the placenta, and its levels double every two days in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. After passing through your body, hCG is eliminated through the urine.
By the time your period is late, there is usually enough hCG in the urine for a home pregnancy test to give an accurate result.
In fact, a pregnancy test taken on the first day of a missed period (which, for a woman with a regular 28-day menstrual cycle, will be 14 days after ovulation) is 99% accurate.
But what if you don’t get that big fat positive you were hoping for?
Be aware that until your body is producing enough hCG hormone to be flushed out in your urine, a home test might give a false negative. While the first hCG spike is typically eight days after conception, not all women have the same cycle. So, if you tested early on, be sure to try again in a few days.
And if you didn’t conceive this month, trust that staying mindful of early pregnancy symptoms while tuning into your body is never a lost cause. Knowing more about your cycle, your hormones, and your body can even help you get pregnant next month.
Been through this before? Tell us about it!
What were some of the earliest and weirdest signs of pregnancies that you experienced?