Early signs that you're pregnant
During the first few weeks of your pregnancy, it's not uncommon to experience some frustratingly vague symptoms. We break down some early signs that indicate you've conceived.
Thinking you may be pregnant can be an anxious time, whether you’ve planned it or not. However, there are some well-known signs to look out for so that you know when to take a test and can prepare for your pregnancy journey.
Pregnancy symptoms are different for everyone, depending on your hormone levels. As the pregnancy hormone chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) rises, your symptoms are likely to increase. Your body needs time to develop the hCG hormone - this usually takes 7 to 12 days after the egg’s successfully implanted.
It’s best to take a home pregnancy test a week after your missed period to give an accurate result. If you don’t want to wait until you’ve missed your period, you should wait until 2 weeks after you’ve had sex to take a test.
If a test is taken too early, it could show an inaccurate result. If you take a test and it comes back with a faint line, you might think this is a negative result, however it could just be that you’re very early in your pregnancy. The further along you are, the bolder a test line becomes. Some circumstances, such as previous miscarriages, medications, or medical conditions can create a false-positive result. If this happens, notify your doctor, who can carry out further testing to confirm if you’re pregnant or not.
The most well-known and reliable pregnancy symptom is a missed menstrual period. If you don’t keep track of your menstrual cycle it can be hard to determine whether you’re late or not. Your menstrual cycle is usually 28 days long. If it’s been over a month since your last period, taking a test is recommended.
Light bleeding (spotting) and discharge
During the early stages of your pregnancy, it’s common to experience light bleeding or spotting - this is called implantation bleeding. It’s perfectly normal and is caused by the egg burying itself deeper into your uterine lining. This usually happens 10 to 14 days after conception. You may think this is a light period but it can be an early sign of pregnancy.
You may also experience an increase in discharge during your early pregnancy. It’s normal to experience an increase in mild-smelling, clear discharge. Brown discharge also indicates old blood leaving the uterus, and is typically not a cause for concern. To maintain vaginal health, wear breathable underwear, avoid tight trousers, and avoid using scented care products.
If your discharge is any colour other than clear, milky white, or brown (such as yellow, green, grey, or white and lumpy) we recommend you speak to your doctor as this can be a sign of infection.
During pregnancy, your body will produce more estrogen and progesterone to help support your baby’s growth. This can happen as early as 1 to 2 weeks after conception. With this, you’ll have increased blood flow, which may make your breasts more tender and appear bigger.
Alongside this, you may see a change in your nipple colour - they’ll usually become slightly darker. As your body adapts to the change in hormones, the pain should lessen but your breasts will remain larger and your nipples slightly darker.
Similar to when you have your period, light cramping in your abdominal area is common during your first trimester. As your uterus expands and your ligaments stretch, you’re likely to feel cramps on one or both sides of your lower abdomen. You can relieve these cramps by taking a hot bath, staying hydrated, or using a hot bottle where you feel the pain.
Other stomach pains can be caused by constipation or trapped wind, both of which are common in pregnancy. The pain should go away if you use the toilet. If it’s persistent and is paired with bleeding, unusual discharge, lower back pain, or burning when you pee, seek advice from your doctor.
Nausea and vomiting
Between 2 weeks and 2 months after conception, around half of women will experience vomiting as a symptom of pregnancy. Despite morning sickness being most common, you can experience vomiting at any point throughout the day. You might feel nauseous for anything from a couple of minutes to several hours. By the time you reach your second trimester, these symptoms should ease up.
In the first trimester of your pregnancy, you’ll have increased levels of progesterone which may make you feel more fatigued. Your body is working hard at generating more blood to help pass along the nutrients your baby needs.
It’s key to listen to your body; if you feel like you need rest, take the rest. Alongside fatigue, you may be more prone to feeling sniffly - this is because an increase in estrogen triggers swelling of the nasal passages, which results in more mucus being produced.
Food aversions and cravings
You may experience changes in how you’re feeling about particular foods. This can involve going off food or specifically craving food you might not normally crave. Similar to feeling fatigued, listen to what your body needs - it’s okay to indulge in some of your cravings if they’re reasonable.
Change in bathroom habits
Alongside nausea and sickness, you may experience a change in your bathroom habits. This can include constipation, bloating, or needing to urinate more. To help ease some of these symptoms, aim to:
- Stay hydrated
- Exercise regularly
- Eat fibre daily
- Go when you feel the need to go
- Eat slowly
- Avoid foods that easily upset your stomach
Final thoughts from Kinhub
Everyone’s pregnancy experience is different. Some people might experience all of these symptoms, and some people might only experience a couple. However your pregnancy begins, being able to track your signs can help you better understand the changes your body may go through in your pregnancy journey.