Some women know they're pregnant from the moment they conceive a baby - it may just be a feeling they have. If you're sensing a pregnancy even before it's time to take a test, this may come from early hormonal shifts. Your body begins producing the pregnancy hormone hCG and other hormones even before you miss your period.
Early Subtle Signs of Pregnancy
Women who are very conscious of subtle changes in their bodies may notice these early pregnancy changes before they have a missed period. The following subtle signs of pregnancy are also sometimes called presumptive or subjective signs of pregnancy, meaning they might also indicate an issue or condition other than pregnancy. If you have these early pregnancy symptoms and body signals, you can talk to your health care provider. You can also take an early pregnancy test, but remember that if you test too early, you may not get an accurate result.
It's been said that a pregnant woman's body is doing the same strenuous work as an uphill hiker...but for nine months! It's not an entirely false analogy. Pregnant bodies are in constant change. The metabolic activities taking place are huge and energy consuming. Some women feel an overwhelming tiredness almost immediately upon conceiving. Statistically, women who are pregnant for the second (or plus) time report more feelings of tiredness, which likely has to do with already caring for another child on top of a pregnancy.
Many times, this is the one of the earliest signs of pregnancy women notice. During early pregnancy, breasts may feel sore, bloated, or both, such as they might during your menstrual cycle. Breast changes occur because, almost right away, breasts begin to prep themselves for breastfeeding. A woman with small breasts is more likely to notice a change in size sooner, but all women may notice that the veins across the breasts become much more pronounced due to increased blood flow during pregnancy.
Other early breast changes include darkening areolas (the dark part around the nipple) and more noticeable bumps on the areola.
For some women, the nausea hits hard and fast before any periods are missed. Nausea can occur during any time of the day and unfortunately, for some women can continue throughout their pregnancy. Morning sickness is not so "morning" as movies and books might have you believe. The real reason it's called morning sickness is because you presumably haven't eaten all night as you sleep, and when you wake up, your blood sugar is low. This can contribute to morning nausea.
Some women have mild bleeding or spotting -- called implantation bleeding -- when the egg implants in the uterus. This occurs in around 20-25% of women and usually happens before you expect your normal menstrual flow.
Some women notice that their jeans may be a bit snug before their next period. This can be a sign of premenstrual syndrome, so it is not necessarily a sign of pregnancy. As the levels of progesterone and estrogen increase during early pregnancy, you may feel bloated. Your digestive system may slow down which may lead to bloating symptoms as well.
If you have been charting your basal body temperature before you got pregnant, you may notice that your temperature does not go down as it would normally at the beginning of your menstrual flow. Instead, it actually goes up. Increasing progesterone levels cause an increase in your basal temperature after ovulation, but there may be a second increase around seven days after ovulation if you are pregnant. This is called a triphasic chart and may be an early indication of pregnancy before you miss your period.
A few additional early signs may include headaches, increased urination, increased vaginal discharge, or food aversions. It's always a smart idea to make an appointment with your care provider if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Early Emotional Signs of Pregnancy
Strangely, some of the earliest signs of pregnancy are feelings of simply knowing that you're pregnant. Something may feel not quite the same, or you may feel heightened emotions such as exhilaration or weepiness. It's unclear if this is more common among women experiencing a planned rather than an unplanned pregnancy, but research has shown that either way, some women just know.
Dreams can be super-charged during pregnancy, and some women actually will have a dream that they are pregnant before a pregnancy test is ever confirmed. Sometimes, dreams of pregnancy occur even before the earliest subtle signs noted above occur. Pregnancy dreams are not made-up illusions either; they've actually been studied by scientists. There aren't any conclusive thoughts on pregnancy dreams, but there are some interesting theories. Some women dream of water, driving, or buildings during this time.
Benefits of Knowing Early
Women who find out about their pregnancies early have a distinct advantage over women who don't find out until later. The biggest reason for this is that the first trimester of pregnancy is when a baby's major organs and brain are being formed. Proper pregnancy behaviors by the expecting mother are highly important during this fetal development stage.
Here are some advantages of knowing the early signs of pregnancy:
- An expecting mother can adjust her behaviors accordingly by quitting smoking or stopping alcohol.
- You can begin a healthy eating and exercise plan.
- You can start early prenatal care.
- If for any reason a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy, she can make this decision early. As far as physical health goes, it's safer to terminate early rather than later.
- Mothers can form early bonds with their baby.
- Partners of an expecting mother can address their feelings about the pregnancy.
An Exciting Time
If you are pregnant, the more obvious signs of pregnancy like missed menstrual cycles, positive early pregnancy tests, and a growing belly will be in your future. In the meantime, the first early symptoms of pregnancy are special and exciting.