The most reliable ways to know if you are actually pregnant are undoubtedly pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. However, there are numerous early signs of pregnancy to look out for as well. During the days that you are unsure of whether you are pregnant or not, you can look out for these signs. Most people assume that a missed period is the only early sign of pregnancy. But, that is not true.
Since everybody is different, you might not experience the exact symptoms as someone else. Moreover, a lot of the early signs of pregnancy resemble menstrual symptoms, you might not notice them right away. While these signs usually indicate pregnancy, they can also be caused by a number of other factors. Hence, the only way to be sure is to take a pregnancy test or go for an ultrasound.
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When Do Early Signs Of Pregnancy Start?
Interestingly enough, your expected date of delivery is calculated from the first day of your last period. Even though you were not actually pregnant at the time, your last menstrual period is considered week 1 of your pregnancy (source).
Early Signs Of Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, the early signs that you will notice include:
- Spotting and Cramping
Following conception, the egg attaches to the uterus wall. This process can result in spotting or even cramping at times. This is often referred to as implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding lasts anywhere between a few hours to 3 days. It is usually not as painful or heavy as a regular period and its color can be pink, red, or brown.
- Missed Periods
There is a high chance that you will miss your period 4 weeks after conception. After implantation, your body begins to release the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone is responsible to maintain the pregnancy and stop the ovaries from releasing mature eggs every month.
Most home pregnancy tests can detect the presence of hCG as early as 8 days after a missed period. At this point, taking a pregnancy test to check if you are pregnant is a good idea.
Fatigue can develop at any point during your pregnancy. However, it is most common during the early stages of pregnancy. This is caused by a rise in progesterone levels. It is important to get you rest whenever you feel tired or exhausted.
Nausea or morning sickness usually begins around weeks 4 to 6. It peaks around week 9. In spite of being called morning sickness, you can experience these episodes at any point during the day. Towards the start of the second trimester, morning sickness decreases significantly.
- Breast Changes
You will also experience changes in your breasts around weeks 4 and 6. The hormonal changes will cause tenderness, soreness, and swelling. Once your body has adjusted to the hormonal changes, these changes will stop. You will also notice your nipples and breasts growing around week 11. Some mothers also experience acne breakouts during this time.
- Frequent Urination
Owing to the increase in blood being pumped around your body during pregnancy, your kidneys process fluids more than usual. This results in the need for frequent urination. As your pregnancy progresses, you will experience this more often but for different reasons. With your baby’s growth, your uterus will press against your bladder causing you to visit the bathroom more often.
Bloating is one of the early signs of pregnancy that resemble menstrual symptoms. Similar to the days before your periods, you will experience bloating and constipation in the early days of pregnancy. Constipation also adds to the feeling of being bloated.
- Temperature Changes
One of the many prominent signs of pregnancy is a higher basal body temperature. Your basal body temperature is your body’s temperature when you are resting. Exercising must be done with caution during this time and be sure to drink plenty of water and fluids.
- Mood Swings
Due to an increase in levels of estrogen and progesterone, you will experience a lot of mood swings. You will be more emotional and reactive than normal. Some of the most common effects of rapid mood swings during pregnancy include anxiety, euphoria, irritability, and depression.
How Soon Can I Know If I Am Pregnant?
You can learn about your pregnancy as early as 1 week after missing your period. At this point, a home pregnancy test can provide you with pretty accurate results. Although you can very well take a pregnancy test earlier as well, you run the risk of getting a false negative.
A false negative is when the test shows “not pregnant” when you might actually be pregnant. The reason this occurs is that there might not be enough hCG in your urine. Hence, it will not be detected on the test.
Early test results are not entirely reliable. To avoid a false negative, it is important to wait at least one week before carrying out a test. Home pregnancy tests are inexpensive and can be purchased from your local drug store.
Am I Really Pregnant?
Symptoms such as breast tenderness, fatigue, bloating & constipation, nausea, and mood swings are shared between pregnancy and periods. You probably noticed these signs every time your menstrual cycle is due. For that reason, these symptoms in particular are not very reliable.
One of the most important things to remember while looking for early signs of pregnancy is to not overthink it. It is common to get stressed out and read too much into every little detail. But, for the most part, it might just be your nerves. That is why your best bet is to wait a week after you miss your period and get a home pregnancy test.
This is the safest economic and reliable manner to determine if you are pregnant. Other than that, the early signs of pregnancy we mentioned throughout this article can give you an indication of where you might be heading.