Could you be pregnant? For some women, the earliest symptoms of pregnancy appear in the first few weeks after conception. Here’s what you may experience.
Are you pregnant? The proof is in the pregnancy test. But even before you miss a period, you may suspect — or hope — that you’re pregnant. For some women, early symptoms of pregnancy begin in the first few weeks after conception.
Symptoms of pregnancy
Consider these classic clues:
- Tender, swollen breasts. Your breasts may provide one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. As early as two weeks after conception, hormonal changes may make your breasts tender, tingly or sore. Or your breasts may feel fuller and heavier.
- Fatigue. Fatigue also ranks high among early symptoms of pregnancy. During early pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone soar. In high enough doses, progesterone can put you to sleep. At the same time, lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and increased blood production may team up to sap your energy.
- Slight bleeding or cramping. Sometimes a small amount of spotting or vaginal bleeding is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. Known as implantation bleeding, it happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus — about 10 to 14 days after fertilization. This type of bleeding is usually a bit earlier, spottier and lighter in color than a normal period and doesn’t last as long.
Some women also experience abdominal cramping early in pregnancy. These cramps are similar to menstrual cramps.
- Nausea with or without vomiting. Morning sickness, which can strike at any time of the day or night, is one of the classic symptoms of pregnancy. For some women, the queasiness begins as early as two weeks after conception.
Nausea seems to stem at least in part from rapidly rising levels of estrogen, which causes the stomach to empty more slowly. Pregnant women also have a heightened sense of smell, so various odors — such as foods cooking, perfume or cigarette smoke — may cause waves of nausea in early pregnancy.
- Food aversions or cravings. When you’re pregnant, you might find yourself turning up your nose at certain foods, such as coffee or fried foods. Food cravings are common, too. Like most other symptoms of pregnancy, these food preferences can be chalked up to hormonal changes — especially in the first trimester, when hormonal changes are the most dramatic.
- Headaches. Early in pregnancy, increased blood circulation caused by hormonal changes may trigger frequent, mild headaches.
- Constipation. Constipation is another common early symptom of pregnancy. An increase in progesterone causes food to pass more slowly through the intestines, which can lead to constipation.
- Mood swings. The flood of hormones in your body in early pregnancy can make you unusually emotional and weepy. Mood swings also are common, especially in the first trimester.
- Faintness and dizziness. As your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure drops, you may feel lightheaded or dizzy. Early in pregnancy, faintness also may be triggered by low blood sugar.
- Raised basal body temperature. Your basal body temperature is your oral temperature when you first wake up in the morning. This temperature increases slightly soon after ovulation and remains at that level until your next period. If you’ve been charting your basal body temperature to determine when you ovulate, its continued elevation for more than two weeks may mean that you’re pregnant.
Are you really pregnant?
Unfortunately, these symptoms aren’t unique to pregnancy. Some can indicate that you’re getting sick or that your period is about to start. Likewise, you can be pregnant without experiencing any of these symptoms.
Still, if you miss a period or notice any of the tip-offs on this list, you might want to take a home pregnancy test — especially if you’re not keeping track of your menstrual cycle or if it varies widely from one month to the next. If your home pregnancy test is positive, make an appointment with your health care provider. The sooner your pregnancy is confirmed, the sooner you can begin prenatal care.