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If you’ve not done a test yet but you suspect you could be pregnant, here are the signs that could spill the beans…

When you think you could be pregnant, it’s natural to obsess over signs. Do you normally have that much discharge? Is that nausea really because of how much spag bol you devoured?

What are the early pregnancy signs and symptoms?

Here are the pregnancy signs that could give the game away:

  1. Changes of appetite
  2. Feeling of sickness, nausea and vomiting
  3. Strange taste in your mouth
  4. Constipation
  5. Needing to wee more often
  6. Headaches
  7. Breast changes
  8. Tiredness
  9. Mood swings
  10. Spotting
  11. Cramps. (Healthline 2018)

This video looks at the early pregnancy symptoms and signs:

 

"The best way to confirm though is to pick up a pregnancy test".

Changes of appetite

In the early stages of being pregnant, you may crave certain foods or go off others (Patient, 2017; NHS Choices, 2016).

The morning cuppa that you used to love might seem repulsive now, while you’re pining for Marmite despite previously being a hater (NHS Choices, 2016).

Things should settle back to normal in your second trimester. So as long as you’re getting a reasonable amount of nutrition, it won’t harm you to go with your new (and sometimes quirky) preferences (American Pregnancy Association, 2018).

Sickness, nausea and vomiting

If you’re sitting in meetings fighting the urge to vomit, you’re definitely not alone. About 50% to 80% of pregnant women will throw up or feel nauseous (Koren et al, 2002). That can start happening any time from two to eight weeks after you conceive your baby.

The most likely cause is fluctuating levels of pregnancy hormones (Fantasia, 2014).

Oh, and the term morning sickness is a bit misleading too. Nausea or vomiting can happen at any time during the day (American Pregnancy Association, 2018).

A small number of women might find themselves with a severe form of nausea and vomiting called hyperemis gravadarum (HG). HG can lead to pregnancy complications like dehydration, weight loss and electrolyte imbalance so you might need to be admitted to hospital (Fantasia, 2014; RCOG, 2016).

Strange taste in your mouth

Some women get a strange metallic taste in their mouth when they’re pregnant (NHS Choices, 2016; Patient, 2017), which can be an early sign.

Sensitivity to smells 

You might also notice that you’re more sensitive to the smell of food or cooking (NHS Choices, 2016; Healthline, 2018). This can make you a little queasy and might put you off some foods.

Constipation

In a lot of women, being pregnant can lead to constipation and bloating (Li et al, 2015). This could be because you’re producing a large amount of progesterone so your digestive system slows down (Li et al, 2015; Mayo Clinic, 2017). For more on how to prevent constipation in pregnancy, see here.

Going to the toilet a lot

When you’re pregnant, the urge to wee will come over you often, sometimes even leaking out before you get there.

This happens as your body pumps more blood than normal when you’re pregnant. That means the kidney processes more fluid than usual, leading to more fluid in your bladder (Healthline, 2018).

In the later stages of pregnancy, you’ll run to the loo even more often because of the increased pressure of your baby’s head (Mayo Clinic, 2017; Patient, 2017).

Headaches

One of your earliest pregnancy symptoms can be headaches, which might be down to rising hormone levels. It could also be because of increased blood flow (American Pregnancy Association, 2018).

Speak to your midwife if you’re suffering as in some cases, they can be a sign of something more worrying. Your midwife will also advise you on what you can and can’t use to treat your headaches when you’re pregnant (Negro et al, 2017).

Breast changes

Because of the changes in – you guessed it – hormone levels, changes in your boobs can be one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms. You might find your breasts change between four and six weeks of pregnancy.

These changes can include:

  • breasts getting bigger (see our article about bras for pregnancy if your old bras are getting too tight)
  • breasts feeling tender
  • breasts tingling
  • veins becoming more visible
  • areola (area around your breast) darkening. (NHS Choices, 2016; Healthline, 2018)

Tiredness

Anyone fancy a nap? Yep, tiredness and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms in early pregnancy. Try to make sure you get as much rest as you can.

Your sleepiness is caused by increased levels of progesterone (NHS Choices, 2016; Mayo Clinic, 2017; Patient 2017; Healthline, 2018). But if you're struggling to get a good night's sleep, see our article about how to sleep better during pregnancy.

Mood swings

Changes in your hormone levels during pregnancy can make you feel irritable and moody (Patient, 2017; Healthline 2018). So yes, you do have an excuse. Because your oestrogen and progesterone levels are up, you might feel more emotional or feel depressed, anxious and even euphoric (Healthline, 2018).

Spotting

In early pregnancy, some women get a small amount of blood or spotting, known as implantation bleeding (Mayo Clinic, 2017; American Pregnancy Association, 2018).

Implantation happens when the fertilised egg attaches to the lining of the uterus 10 to 14 days after you conceived your baby. The spotting will probably last for less than three days (Healthline, 2018). For more information, see our articles on discharge during pregnancy and bleeding or spotting during pregnancy.

Cramps

You might get light stomach cramps or pain if you have implantation bleeding (Healthline, 2018). Some women get mild cramping in their uterus in early pregnancy too (Mayo Clinic, 2017).

This page was last reviewed in September 2018

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new child.

The HER Foundation provides information about hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).

American Pregnancy Association. (2018) Pregnancy symptoms – early signs of pregnancy. Available from: http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/early-pregnancy-symptoms/ [Accessed 24th September 2018]

Fantasia HC. (2014) A new pharmacologic treatment for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Nursing for women’s health 18(1). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24548499 [Accessed 24th September 2018]

Healthline. (2018) Early pregnancy symptoms. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/early-symptoms-timeline [Accessed 24th September 2018]

Hyperemis RCOG. (2016) The management of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy and hyperemesis gravidarum. The Green Top Guideline No. 69. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23863612 [Accessed 24th September 2018]

Koren G, Boskovic R, Hard M, Maltepe C, Navioz Y, Einarson A. Motherisk- PUQE (pregnancy-unique quantification or emesis and nausea) scoring system for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. (2002) American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 186(5). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12011891 [Accessed 24th September 2018]

Li Z, Pergolizzi JV, Huttner RP, Zampogna G, Breve F, Raffa RB. (2015) Management of opioid-induced constipation in pregnancy: a concise review with emphasis on the PAMORAs. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeautics. 40: 615-619. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26573866 [Accessed 24th September 2018]

Mayo Clinic. (2017) Getting pregnant. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/symptoms-of-pregnancy/art-20043853 [Accessed 24th September 2018]

Negro A, Delaruelle Z, Ivanova TA, Khan S, Ornello R, Raffaelli B, Terrin A, Reuter U, Mitsikostas DD. (2017) Headache and pregnancy: a systematic review. J Headache Pain. 18(1):106. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29052046 [Accessed 24th September 2018]

NHS Choices. (2016) Signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/signs-and-symptoms-pregnancy/#strange-tastes-smells-and-cravings [Accessed 24th September 2018]

Patient. (2017) Early pregnancy signs and symptoms. Available from: https://patient.info/health/early-pregnancy-signs-and-symptoms [Accessed 24th September 2018]

Further reading

Gartland D, Brown S, Donath S, Perlen S. (2010) Women’s health in early pregnancy: Findings from an Australian nulliparous cohort study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 50 (5).  Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21039372  [Accessed 24th September 2018]

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