What are Early Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy?
Hoping to be pregnant, and every potential symptom sends you into a spiral of research to determine if you really could be? Natalist Medical Director and OBGYN shares the most common and consistent early pregnancy symptoms.
It's exactly five days before your next period when you notice a slight throb in your breasts and mild queasiness. Your heart races from excitement as you imagine starting your parenting journey. Or is it just your period coming on? Fortunately, while waiting to get your hands on an early pregnancy test, you may validate your hunch with these subtle, yet common, signs of early pregnancy.
The most common early symptoms of pregnancy
Every pregnancy is different, and we often hear of varying levels of numerous symptoms, including increased urinary frequency, bloating, cramping, and moodiness. However, the most common and consistent early pregnancy symptoms include:
- Breast pain: Rapidly rising estrogen and progesterone in pregnancy can make the breasts quite uncomfortable. But don’t send out the pregnancy announcement just yet! There are other causes of achy sore breasts, including excessive caffeine and an oncoming menstrual cycle. To differentiate, lookout for exquisite nipple tenderness and tingling as well as heavy, swollen breasts.
- Nausea and vomiting: Fifty to eighty percent of early pregnancies are associated with nausea and vomiting. Although the exact cause is unknown, rising beta HCG levels and estrogen have been deemed likely culprits. And yes, there are risk factors—women who suffer from migraines, motion sickness, or whose moms and sisters had nausea and vomiting are more likely to experience it.
- Fatigue: If you’re craving your bed, both day and night, this could be reason for optimism. Studies show up to 90% of newly pregnant women report fatigue—and are more fatigued than their nonpregnant counterparts.
And remember, pregnancy symptoms vary. Just as every unborn child is unique with their own genetic imprint, personality, and physical traits, so is every pregnancy. Pregnancies vary from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy. No two children or pregnancies are exactly alike—and that’s usually cause for celebration.
Just as every unborn child is unique with their own genetic imprint, personality, and physical traits, so is every pregnancy.
When to take a pregnancy test
Pregnancy tests have quickly become the most common in-home diagnostic test since their advent in 1976. While most OBGYNs recommend waiting until the first day of your missed cycle, we understand waiting can feel like torture. We also recognize various social practices change once pregnancy is confirmed with a urine pregnancy test (upt). For these reasons, it is common and acceptable to test up to five days before a missed period. Early pregnancy tests are considered greater than 97% accurate at five days before your expected period and over 99% accurate in predicting pregnancy at three days before your expected period. As the pregnancy hormone (HCG) increases, the positive result line will become darker.
BFP?! Here’s what to do next
Finally get a big, fat positive (BFP) pregnancy test?! Congratulations! After giving yourself a huge high five, it's time to get to work preparing for a healthy pregnancy. Take out your to-do list and add:
- Call your OBGYN to schedule a pregnancy confirmation visit.
- Notify your OBGYN of any medications you’re taking.
- Start a prenatal vitamin.
- Stop smoking.
- Stop drinking alcohol.
- Start or maintain a healthy low-fat diet consisting of grains, fruits, and vegetables, and if desired, lean meats.
- If vegetarian or vegan, consider adding additional iron to your regimen.
- And finally, start working on that pregnancy announcement!