If you're tuned in to your body, you might suspect that you're pregnant within the first few days of pregnancy. But some women do not have any early pregnancy symptoms and others may not notice anything unusual because they do not know what to look for. To make it even more confusing, the onset and degree of pregnancy symptoms varies among women and the same woman can have different symptoms in each pregnancy. Let's look at the most common early pregnancy symptoms and your options regarding pregnancy testing.
Missing your period is the most clear-cut indication of possible pregnancy. But it is not definitive, particularly in women with irregular periods or unusual stress, where ovulation may occur much later than expected.
Abnormal bleeding is also common and although it is not a sign of pregnancy, it is a common reason to miss the early signs. Around the time of implantation (six to 10 days after ovulation), as the embryo burrows into the lush lining of the uterus, bleeding and cramping can occur. This bleeding can be mistaken for an early period or a normal period. However, this type of bleeding is usually much lighter than a period and may be accompanied by other early pregnancy symptoms.
Breast tenderness, swelling, or pain are also commonly associated with early pregnancy, and are sometimes similar to the sensations in the breasts in the days before an expected menstrual period, only more so. Women may also describe a feeling of heaviness or fullness in the breasts, extreme nipple sensitivity, darkening of the nipples, or enlarged veins visible on the chest. (A good support bra to fit your enlarging breasts may help.)
Pelvic or abdominal pain can occur in early pregnancy and is a symptom that should be reported to your doctor immediately. While usually due to something non-life threatening such as an ovarian cyst or constipation, it can also be the earliest sign of an ectopic pregnancy, which is a medical emergency.
Nausea and vomiting may come as early as a week into the pregnancy. Often referred to as "morning sickness," it can occur any time during the day or night and affects about two thirds of all pregnant women. The symptoms can vary from a mild queasiness to uncontrollable vomiting. It is thought that high levels of estrogen and progesterone overstimulate the normal nausea triggers. Doctors have long known that morning sickness is actually a good sign of a healthy pregnancy, despite the discomfort it brings.