There are women among us that are so in tune with their bodies, they know the EXACT date and time of when their eggs get fertilized (no seriously – I personally know 2). They can sense the event, visualize it, and something just clicks.
The unlucky rest of us are left with the dreaded uncertainty of post ovulation limbo where sanity decreases and time stays still. I’m guessing you’re in the same boat since you’re reading about common and uncommon signs of pregnancy…?
Lucky for us, there are quite a few early pregnancy signs and symptoms to keep tabs on during the guessing game. Many of these unfortunately mirror PMS, but there are quite a few on the list that aren’t generally associated with being premenstrual and can be a good indicator of a possible pregnancy.
Only you know yourself the best, so go ahead and compare any changes you may have started to feel lately with how your body usually copes with an upcoming period.
I was going to start with some of the more common symptoms and gradually move towards the weird, bizarre, and uncommon signs of pregnancy that you may experience early on, but that just made a mess of things, so this list is not indicative of any particular order.
Some of the early pregnancy signs and symptoms are well known, but others might surprise you, so make sure to read them all!
(FYI, I’m purposely skipping a missed period. We all know about that one, right?)
COMMON AND UNCOMMON SIGNS OF PREGNANCY
#1 LIGHT BLEEDING OR SPOTTING
If you notice pink or brown discharge around the time of your expected period or within a week or two of suspected ovulation, and it goes away but your period doesn’t show up, it could be a sign of implantation bleeding.
Don’t worry – it’s completely harmless!
Implantation bleeding can happen after the fertilized egg travels down the Fallopian tube into the uterus and burrows into the uterine lining, and in reality, it’s more of a spotting than actual bleeding. It usually lasts anywhere from a few hours to a day or two. Unlike a period, the flow is light and not enough to fill up a sanitary pad, and the color is different (lighter, or darker than fresh blood). If you happen to see bright red blood, it’s probably not implantation bleeding.
Up to about a third of pregnant women experience implantation bleeding early in pregnancy. In fact, it’s how I figured I was pregnant the second time around – in combination with #23.
#2 MILD CRAMPING
Cramping is a common PMS symptom, BUT it can also be a sign of a healthy early pregnancy.
The only difference between the two is that cramping in early pregnancy is on the mild side and doesn’t get worse over the next few days. You would know about it, but you wouldn’t be in much pain.
Mild menstrual-like cramping in early pregnancy is usually an indication of implantation and changes in uterus taking place. It’s OK as long as it’s not painful and you don’t start bleeding.
#3 ODD PAINS AND SENSATIONS
Odd pains and sensations are another common sign of pregnancy that can start very soon after conception. These can feel like tugging, stretching, or pinching around your lower abdomen or your sides. Stabbing pains aren’t uncommon either.
You can also have lower back pain and headaches, though headaches usually don’t start until later in your first trimester.
Some women even report having unexplainably sore arms or legs right before a positive test, joint pains, tingling skin, or other odd signs of discomfort. We’re all different!
#4 CHANGES IN YOUR SKIN COMPLEXION
When your hormones are changing, so is your skin. Makes sense, right? There is a chance you’ll start glowing on DAY 1, but you can also break out with massive flipping zits like, overnight.
Unfortunately, at this point it’s impossible to predict whether any changes in your skin are due to an impending period or early pregnancy.
#5 NAUSEA, FOOD AVERSIONS, AND FOOD CRAVINGS
One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy (affecting up to about 80% of women) is sudden nausea, AKA morning sickness. I’m not sure who coined the term “morning sickness,” but it turned out to be a poor choice of words. Pregnancy nausea can strike at any time of the day, and it’s more of an all-day, all-night type of thing.
Even though morning sickness usually shows up around pregnancy weeks 6-8, some women start feeling queasy much earlier than that. Nausea in pregnancy appears to be related to the levels of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which the body starts producing once the embryo implants into the uterine wall, so it’s technically not impossible to feel nauseous as early as around your missed period (or even before).
Why does this happen? No one really knows, but I’m guessing hormones.
While nausea can be an early sign of conception, it’s also a known PMS symptom, so you’ll have to wait to find out what your hormones are telling you!
#6 CHANGES IN YOUR BREASTS
Sore breasts are super common in early pregnancy. Changes in breasts can start becoming obvious as early as 1 week after conception, which is roughly 1 week before your period. Unfortunately, this is right around the time you can expect to get hit with pre-menstrual symptoms as well. (So not fair!)
Breasts can feel fuller, heavy, sore, and even itchy in early pregnancy. The veins on your breasts may become more pronounced. Your nipples may become uber sensitive, and your areolas (the area surrounding your nipples) may appear enlarged and darker. That said, some women see symptoms like this every month due to normal hormonal changes.
For what it’s worth, my boobs tend to hurt like a living hell when I’m pregnant. Nothing like PMS.
Then there are Montgomery tubercles which are tiny little bumps that can be found around the areolas. While Montgomery tubercles are not necessarily indicative of pregnancy, if you’ve never had them before and they literally just showed up overnight, there is a chance you could be pregnant.
#7 INCREASED FREQUENCY OF URINATION
Do you feel like you’ve been spending a lot more time peeing these days? It may not be your imagination – you might just be pregnant.
Hormonal changes in pregnancy increase the blood flow to your kidneys. With all this extra blood to filter, the kidneys produce up to 25% more urine, starting soon after conception. (I should probably mention that frequent trips to the bathroom can also indicate a urinary or bladder infection. Yikes.)
#8 CONSTIPATION AND GASSINESS
Constipation is an awful but relatively common side effect of pregnancy which can be exacerbated by taking prenatal vitamins containing IRON.
During pregnancy, higher levels of the hormone progesterone relax the muscles in your body, ultimately slowing down the digestive system as well. This can lead to sluggish digestion, difficulty passing stools, and painful trapped gas.
But, some women report having the runs instead.
If you see diarrhea instead of constipation and your period isn’t coming, that could ALSO be an indication of pregnancy. Diarrhea in pregnancy can be caused by shifting hormones, changes in diet, or increased stress levels.
Are your pants a little tight around your waist but it’s obviously too soon to be showing? Is your wedding ring a little too snug? Do you feel all balloon-y-ish?
Yes, it can all be a sign of PMS, but the surge of progesterone that happens when you conceive can also do all that. For most pregnant women, swelling and bloating doesn’t become a reality until later on in pregnancy, but some women start seeing this pregnancy symptom almost immediately.
#11 HELLO YEAST INFECTION!
Vaginal itching, redness and irritation, odorless cottage-cheese-like discharge… Never a good time to see… until maybe when you’re trying to conceive?
Though this may be one of the more uncommon signs of pregnancy in its earliest stages (yeast infections are more common in the second trimester), it’s one Mother Nature generously gifted me with. LIKE CLOCKWORK around week 4. Super fun.
Forget chugging useless yogurts at the first signs of itching, and reach straight for good probiotics. I love using these probiotics because they WORK, they aren’t one of out outrageously expensive ones, and they don’t need to be refrigerated so you can safely order online. (Before I forget – the product links you’ll see in this article may be affiliate links. Ordering via these links costs you nothing extra and contributes a few extra pennies towards running this blog. As always, TY!) If you need STRONGER probiotics, these are AWESOME! They’re more expensive, but you do get more goodness that should scare off even the sturdiest nastiest evil type of yeast, and they’re shelf-stable as well so they’ll survive transport without ice packs.
Quick relief from an infection caused by yeast can be found using olive oil and essential oils. I wouldn’t advise you to put essential oils in or near your vagina if you suspect you might be pregnant, but even straight olive oil can bring some level of relief and is safe to use in pregnancy.
#12 MOODINESS — OR I SHOULD RATHER SAY, SENSITIVITY…
Did you lose your cool at the store over unripe green bananas when you obviously NEEDED yellow? Are TV commercials capable of triggering a torrent of tears? Any chance you find your partner’s evening routine to be super niggly all of a sudden?
Congrats, you may be pregnant. Mood swings are a hit in the first trimester, or second, or third, and of course it’s those hormones again!
#13 PEOPLE STARE, THEN SMILE
In all honesty, this one may be considered one of the very uncommon signs of pregnancy, but bear with me. Even though it’s a little on the woo-woo side, I think it is valid and worthy of a spot on this list.
- IF you’re drawing much more attention than what your norm is and nothing about your appearance has changed…
- IF strangers spark up conversations, smile, nod, and immediately acknowledge you in a crowd and you catch them looking repeatedly and this is all very sudden and NEW to you…
…Well, you may have a bun in the oven. I know, what’s that about?!
I distinctly remember the internal stir I felt when I first registered this happening. People looked at me like I had 2 heads, but they wanted to be instant friends. Mind you, it was too early on in the game for me to even figure out I was pregnant, so there were no obvious signs. Here I was, fetching a few last-minute dinner staples, red-cheeked, climbing down the rabbit hole in the produce aisle. Is there a hole in my jeans creeping up my butt? What’s happening?!
On that note, have you ever looked at a female friend or someone you know and noticed something very different about her? Not anything glaringly obvious, but rather very subtle? Did you think, Whoa, she looks STUNNING today, and told her? If I could count on my fingers all the times I uncovered yet-to-be-revealed pregnancies, whoopsies, I’ve busted quite a few.
There might be something about that pregnancy glow…?
#14 UM, VAGINAL DISCHARGE
Seeing an increase in vaginal discharge is actually a common symptom of early pregnancy.
Very early on in pregnancy, your vaginal mucus may be thin, clear, and slippery for a while, before thickening and turning into milky white. There is even a name for it – leucorrhea, and it’s caused by an increase in hormone levels, particularly estrogen.
BTW, you might want to get used to this one… Abundant vaginal discharge usually sticks around throughout the entire pregnancy. Just when you thought you may bid farewell to them panty liners for the next few months…
Healthy vaginal discharge is not yeasty or itchy, is not yellow or green in color, and does not have a foul odor. Just so we’re clear…
#15 YOU’RE EXHAAAAAUSTED
Pregnancy gods don’t play fair. Sleepiness and exhaustion (throw drained mentally on top!) can be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Yup, that’s even before you start lugging the new proportions of an upright hippo…
#16 VIVID/STRANGE DREAMS
Honestly, this is one of my favorite pregnancy symptoms, by far! I loved going to bed when I was pregnant. Pregnancy dreams can be very different from your average dreams, and they’re not uncommon even soon after conception. Luckily, I was spared the scary nightmares and strange stuff that some women report…
I mean that’s if you don’t end up with INSOMNIA, which is another indicator of a possible pregnancy… We just can’t win, can we?!
#17 EXCESSIVE SWEATING AND FEELING HOT
Even though it’s more common to notice temperature changes later in pregnancy, some women start feeling hot flashes soon after conception.
And it makes sense, sort of. Following ovulation, your basal body temperature can be slightly higher than normal and remain that way if you’re pregnant. Plus, surging hormones increase blood flow to your skin, making you feel warmer and looking a little flushed.
#18 STRANGE METALLIC TASTE
Well let me see. It’s like sucking on a subway handrail. And it doesn’t really go away after you brush your teeth.
This pregnancy symptom which is most noticeable in the first trimester and improves later in pregnancy even has a name – dysgeusia (pronounced dis-gu-zia). It’s caused by – make a guess – yep, changing hormone levels.
Which explains why there were times I’ve had this happen when I definitely, certainly wasn’t pregnant. In all fairness though, the first time I wanted to scrub my mouth with pure bleach WAS during my first pregnancy. Yech!
#19 GAGGING WHEN BRUSHING TEETH
Since we’re touching up on oral hygiene here… Every time you try to brush the strange metallic taste out of your mouth or just brush your teeth, period, you may gag, or even throw up when you’re pregnant.
Having your gag reflex easily triggered is not one of the uncommon signs of pregnancy, in fact, it’s very normal to see happening when you’re early pregnant.
Holding one’s breath can help, and I would also suggest trying to hum your favorite song in your head as soon as you feel like you’re going to throw up (dance if you have to!), change your toothpaste or brush without, but honestly, no matter the improvements you try to make, this will feel like torture. I’m sorry.
#20 WATCH HOW PETS – AND CHILDREN (!) – ACT AROUND YOU
Are they acting weird around you and YOU only? You could be pregnant!
Cats and dogs especially are known to act more protective, loving, or just flat out bizarre around pregnant women, but kids aren’t staying far behind. They may get more emotional and clingy, or rub, kiss, or point to your stomach and say “baby.” Older, verbal kids might catch you off guard with odd comments and dreams depicting a new sibling (that they shouldn’t yet know about). If you don’t have any kids of your own but spend time with some, it is very possible they won’t want to leave your side now. If you’re pregnant, that is.
PS: There was a baby in there, end of story. No explanation needed. I never found out how she knew.
Have you experienced something similar??? I’m all ears!
#21 EXCESS SALIVA
If, out of nowhere, you start dropping spittle and slobber like Calamity Jane, you might want to check the calendar to see where you are in the two week wait. Just sayin’.
Excess saliva can and does happen in pregnancy, even early on, especially in conjunction with nausea and vomiting. The medical term for this symptom is ptyalism (pronounced tia-al-ism), and its cause is unknown but I think it’s safe to blame hormones.
#22 DRY MOUTH
Or, you may experience the opposite of excess saliva – a dry mouth. Don’t ask, I didn’t make the rules.
#23 YOUR CERVIX IS S-H-C-W
That would be Soft, High, Closed, and Wet.
What is a cervix, anyway? Well, it’s basically the passage between your uterus and vagina. I can see some of the more squeamish gals scrambling to skip over to #23 now – but please don’t, not just yet…
Your cervix is very responsive to the reproductive changes taking place in your body. At various points of your cycle, your cervix will be high, then low, hard, softer, open or closed, wet, or more on the dry side.
Before your period, your cervix should be low, hard, and closed, opening up just before your uterus starts to shed its lining (the blood you see during your period).
In some women, changes in cervix can be noticed as early as right around the time of implantation. For others, it doesn’t happen until later on. Changes in cervix can be misleading, BUT – if some time after ovulation you notice pink or brown spotting and check your cervix and it appears to be waaay high up and out of reach and it feels cushiony up there, you’re probably pregnant.
How to check for cervical position?
- Wash your hands and trim your fingernails if they’re too long.
- While squatting or standing, insert your longest finger into your vagina. For most, this will be your middle finger.
- Feel for your cervix which should be somewhere around 3 to 6 inches past the vaginal opening. It may take a few tries to get it right if you’ve never done this before. Right before your period (when non-pregnant), you may feel the opening of your cervix – it will literally feel like a hole, or a dimple. Unlike in pregnancy, where your cervix is smooth and dimple-less. The more familiar you become with your monthly cervical changes, the easier it will be to note any changes. (This is great for tracking ovulation, too!)
Eww gross? Now go ahead and try it. I’ll wait.
#24 YOU JUST KNOW
Sometimes, you just have a gut feeling…
#25 RUNNY/STUFFY NOSE
It’s not all that uncommon for pregnant women to feel like getting the common cold. In the early stages and, well, throughout the entire pregnancy, many women report having stuffed up or runny noses, sometimes even a scratchy throat.
Some like to say that this is a result of lowered immune system in pregnancy, but it’s actually presumed to happen due to hormonal changes (though the exact mechanism isn’t well understood.)
#26 YOU HAVE A *SUPERHUMAN* SENSE OF SMELL
Do things smell different all of a sudden, like overnight? Are you smelling stuff that you didn’t even know had a smell? Did you just smell your neighbor come home next door?
Scientists believe that the hormone estrogen is responsible for a pregnant woman’s heightened sense of smell. Now, you don’t necessarily need to be pregnant to notice changes in the way you smell things, but if the air starts smelling waaay different around 12 days past ovulation, you may just be pregnant.
#27 FEELING DIZZY AND LIGHTHEADED
Feeling like hopping out of the roller coaster cart after merely getting up from the sofa? That’s dizziness for you.
Dizziness can be caused by a ton of things, and it may or may not be related to pregnancy.
When it is, this symptom usually doesn’t show up until about week 6, but some women report being dizzy from DAY 1. Dizzy spells and lightheadedness in pregnancy can be caused by blood pressure changes and rising hormones, or low blood sugar levels.
Oh and you may also find it difficult to catch your breath, too. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including changes in hormone production.
#28 STRONG-SMELLING URINE. NO WAIT, MILD AND SWEET.
Many women find that the smell of their urine changes in pregnancy, but here’s the kicker: they can’t agree on what pregnancy urine should smell like.
Some say that their urine smelled very strongly of ammonia. Yet others will swear that their urine smelled mild and almost sweet when they were pregnant. (Camp #2 here.)
So here’s the silver lining: Your pee might suddenly smell different. Just different. After all, pregnancy can change the way you smell things, right?
#29 MORE BLEEDING (YES, MORE, NOT LESS)
Just kidding. No, not really. 😉
If your teeth and gums suddenly get very sensitive and your gums get puffy and even start bleeding, it could be a sign of pregnancy.
Likewise, you may not have had a nosebleed in YEARS, but you may see one if you’re pregnant, starting soon after conception.
Both your gums and nose may start bleeding unexpectedly during pregnancy. The blood volume increases in pregnancy, putting more pressure on the blood vessels, causing them to rupture more easily. The blood vessels around the nose especially are very fragile, so they bleed easily. (You might want to throw a pack of tissues in your purse just in case.)
#30 CHANGES IN LIBIDO
Oftentimes, pregnant women notice immediate changes in their libido. Obviously, this happens due to hormonal changes, but it’s impossible to guess whether you’ll see an increase, decrease, or even no change in your sex drive.
So…. There you have it.
The list of 30 common and uncommon signs of pregnancy you may experience even early on.
I actually have a BONUS one for you.
BUT this one ONLY APPLIES if you are currently in the 2-WEEK WAIT and NURSING. Here goes:
#31 CHANGES IN THE NURSING PATTERN
When you’re pregnant AND nursing, there is always a chance your child will suddenly start refusing breast milk. And you might be scratching your head as to WHY that’s happening.
It’s believed that hormones can change the taste of breast milk to not so palatable, and you may also see an immediate decrease in milk production when you get pregnant. Neither of this is uncommon when nursing while pregnant.
The first red flag was tingling painful nipples which was sudden, and if I remember correctly that happened very early on, like week 4-ish. It’s entirely possible I was already producing a bit less milk at that point but didn’t notice because E. wasn’t a baby anymore and she wasn’t relying on breast milk solely. Shortly after I tested positive, nursing became almost weird and uncomfortable. It’s hard to explain. It was like a sudden aversion to breastfeeding, if that makes sense. Then I noticed that she’d pull away as soon as she started to nurse. Plus, my breasts started feeling kind of empty.
HOWEVER, should you become pregnant while breastfeeding without noticing any changes in the volume of breast milk, the appetite of your child, or your comfort level, it is entirely fine to continue to nurse in pregnancy!
So… Are you pregnant?
Maybe, but maybe not. You’ll have to wait long enough until you can take a pregnancy test to know for sure… I know, right?
In case you were wondering…
“When can I start feeling pregnancy symptoms?”
The answer is: as early as the fertilized egg implants in your uterus. That said, that’s the EARLIEST you’d notice any changes, and many women report feeling no different around this time.
I’d say that many whoa! symptoms will start showing between 4 to 6 weeks, but that’s my own estimate, so don’t dwell on it. Plus, we’re all different, right? Some women simply don’t start seeing symptoms until much later on.
“How early can I take a pregnancy test?”
The pregnancy hormone hCG isn’t detectable in store-bought pregnancy tests until enough hCG shows up in urine as per the test sensitivity threshold which varies.
OK, how early are we talking?
Implantation can occur anywhere from 6 to 12 days after ovulation. Once the process of implantation starts, the placenta begins to secrete hCG.
We all have small amounts of hCG in our bodies, men and women alike, typically less than 5 mIU/ml. In the first few weeks after implantation, the amount of hCG tends to double every 48 to 72 hours, so even though you start your pregnancy at <5 mIU/ml, the levels will rise quickly once implantation happens.
The numbers should look something like this:
3 WEEKS (1 week after ovulation): 5-50 mIU/ml
4 WEEKS (2 weeks after ovulation): 5-426 mIU/ml
5 WEEKS (3 weeks after ovulation): 19-7,340 mIU/ml
The weeks are measured from your last menstrual period and expecting ovulation at the 2-week mark, so if you ovulate later in the cycle, you’ll need to do the math.
Technically, if you ovulate on day 14 and the embryo implants just mere 6 days later and hCG doubles as it should, you might be able to see a positive test as early as 5 days past implantation and way before your expected period, using the most sensitive home pregnancy tests. If implantation isn’t complete until 6 days later during the very same cycle (which is still within the normal range), you’ll see a BFN (big-fat-negative) on day 28 but will be pregnant. If you ovulate later in the cycle, the BFP (big-fat-positive) is even further delayed. It’s a tricky little number game, it really is.
But let’s say you REAAAALY want to know…?!
The general recommendation is to wait until at least your missed period, ideally one week after. Yaddy yaddy ya, I’m sure you’ve heard this before.
There is a good reason for this other than to drive the maybe-pregnant women crazy though.
Many times a pregnancy will start healthy but quickly stops from progressing, sometimes very shortly after implantation. The produced hCG will get picked up by the pregnancy test, but the pregnancy won’t be viable. This is what’s referred to as a chemical pregnancy. It’s just a fancy word for a very early miscarriage, and something to keep in mind.
“Which pregnancy test to choose, anyway?”
Some pregnancy tests are more sensitive in detecting hCG than others. If you’re using a less sensitive test say, 11 or 12 days after ovulation, it may not be enough to detect low levels of hCG and can result in a false-negative. On top of that, don’t forget that some women swear they NEVER see a BFP when they’re indeed pregnant.
This page compares some of the most common pregnancy tests sold in the U.S., so go ahead and check it out if that applies to you. The lower the number you see, the earlier you can test (20 mlU/ml means a highly sensitive home pregnancy test that will detect levels as low as 20 mlU/ml).
Before you go…
Boys produce less hCG – Did you know?
This interesting study confirmed previous findings suggesting that the levels of hCG appear to be consistently elevated in the presence of a female fetus through the entire gestation period. Basically, women who were carrying a female fetus had hCG levels significantly higher throughout the pregnancy than women who were carrying a male fetus.
“If boys produce less hCG than girls on overage, could that mean that women carrying boys could have lower levels on hCG starting early in pregnancy as well? Could these women see a delay in their first BFP (big-fat-positive)?”
Honestly, I’m not sure. Some women confirm this theory, but others refute it. While this may mean baloney in the two-week wait, scientists ARE working on ways to figure out gender based on hCG levels. Interesting, isn’t it?
Whether you’re keeping your fingers crossed for a big fat positive or praying that it’s just a late period, I’m hoping you see the results you wish for!!!
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