15 Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs

Only a test can say for sure, but these symptoms are common in early pregnancy

Early signs of pregnancy
Illustration by Joshua Seong. © Verywell, 2018.

While a missed period is often the first sign of pregnancy, there are a number of other pregnancy symptoms you can look for. These can range from morning sickness to fatigue and sore breasts to mood swings.

Pregnancy symptoms are different for each person and with each pregnancy. And it can be difficult to distinguish premenstrual symptoms from signs of pregnancy. Once your period is late, take a pregnancy test so you'll know for sure. The only way to confirm whether or not you're pregnant is through a pregnancy test or ultrasound.

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Am I Pregnant? Real Women Share Their Early Signs

Common Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Not everyone will experience these symptoms (and if you don't have them, that doesn't mean you're not pregnant or that your pregnancy is not viable). But many people do notice these signs and symptoms in the first weeks of pregnancy.

Missed or Strange Period

A missed period is one of the most reliable signs of pregnancy. However, pregnancy isn't always the reason for a missed period. If you do have a positive pregnancy test, a healthcare provider will ask you for the first day of your last normal menstrual period (LMP). That date will also help determine your due date if you are indeed pregnant.

Although some people experience implantation bleeding around the time that their period is due, it is usually just spotting and lighter or shorter than their normal period. Although rare, a few people may continue to cycle throughout their pregnancy.

It may be harder to note a missed or strange period if you typically experience irregular cycles. In this case, a pregnancy test followed by a pelvic exam may be necessary. If a healthcare provider rules out pregnancy as the cause for your missed period, they will take steps to rule out other possible causes.

Increased Basal Body Temperature

Basal body temperature (BBT) is your temperature as soon as you wake up in the morning, before you get out of bed. It is influenced by hormones. An elevated BBT can be the first indication of pregnancy, even before your pregnancy test result is positive.

Some people continuously track BBT for fertility purposes. It is a good indicator of pregnancy if the temperature does not fall back down to or below the cover line temperatures on a BBT chart.

Morning Sickness

About half of pregnancies will include morning sickness, although the severity can vary greatly. Some people are sick only at night, some are sick all day, and others feel ill on and off with a unique pattern. Vomiting may or may not be present.

The ill feeling occurs with the rapid rise of estrogen, which is produced by the fetus and placenta. Since sense of smell also becomes heightened during pregnancy, the odors from foods, fragrances, and smoke can trigger morning sickness.

It is most common to begin experiencing this between four and eight weeks of pregnancy, but it can occur as early as two weeks after conception.

Some people may have a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. This can lead to dehydration and other problems. Your doctor can help you find solutions.

Breast Soreness

Sore breasts are usually one of the first physical signs of pregnancy. This soreness often goes away during the second trimester. Once again, it's a symptom caused by hormones. As the breasts prepare for breastfeeding, estrogen and progesterone rise and cause the tenderness.

Frequent Urination

If you are going to the bathroom more than usual, that may be a sign that you're pregnant. Frequent urination is common fairly early on in the first trimester, and then again in the third trimester because of the growing uterus.

There isn't a lot that you can do about this except to know where all the bathrooms are. You'll also want to stay hydrated.


Not being able to keep your eyes open or needing a nap regularly is a pregnancy symptom as well. Fatigue sets in very early for some parents-to-be, as their bodies undergo multiple changes in preparation for carrying a baby. Additionally, extra progesterone, which is a central nervous system depressant, contributes to sleepiness.

If you find that you are really sleepy, try learning to power nap to get through the day.

Feeling Dizzy

Expanding blood volume and blood vessels may cause vertigo during pregnancy. You might feel dizzy on occasion, but this is usually only in the first trimester. If it becomes a concern or happens later in your pregnancy, it's certainly something to talk to a doctor or midwife about.


Cramping may be something you associate with your impending period rather than an early pregnancy symptom. Some people experience early cramping in the uterus as it begins to stretch and changes occur.

Anything severe should be reported to your doctor immediately. The same is true if the cramping is accompanied by bleeding.


An increase in acne and other skin changes can also be a pregnancy symptom. Be careful what medications you use to treat it, though. Some medications like Accutane and those that are high in vitamin A can cause birth defects. It's best to talk to a healthcare provider about how to treat skin conditions while you're pregnant.


Headaches are rather common in pregnancy due to hormonal changes. This may be a pregnancy symptom, but it is not necessarily a sign. There are many things that could be causing your headaches, including stress.

This symptom can occur at any point in pregnancy but is most common during the first trimester. If the pain is too much to handle, talk to your doctor about which medications (including over-the-counter pain relievers) are safe for your baby.

Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge, without itching or burning, may be a sign of pregnancy and can occur in the very beginning. The cervix is building a mucous plug to block the opening of the cervix and help protect your baby from infections. During this transition, you might notice a slight increase in vaginal secretions.

Vaginal discharge shouldn't smell, burn, or itch. These are signs of infection that requires medical treatment.


Strange pregnancy cravings are something you hear a lot about. In reality, you may have cravings or aversions to certain foods, particularly stronger smelling or unhealthier ones, early on and throughout your pregnancy.

Bloating and an Enlarging Belly

Early pregnancy is not when you will begin to show, but some people report an enlarging belly as an early pregnancy symptom. This is typically caused by bloating as opposed to the growing baby.

Weight gain in the first trimester is generally not very noticeable—usually only a pound or two. In fact, you may even lose weight from a combination of not feeling well, food aversions, and a better diet as you make lifestyle changes.

Mood Swings

Once again, hormones are to blame for varying feelings and moods. Don't be surprised or upset if you're suddenly bursting into tears or experiencing intense emotions.


Progesterone in the body impacts multiple processes, including food digestion. Increased levels of this hormone cause slower digestion and, in turn, constipation.

If you experience this symptom after you've confirmed your pregnancy, exercise and increased fiber can help. Once you begin to take prenatal vitamins, the iron in them can exacerbate constipation. You may have to try a few in order to find one that works well for you.

Pregnancy Symptoms Timeline

You may notice some of these symptoms as early as one week after conception or a few weeks after your last menstrual period. Some people experience none at all, while others have only temporary symptoms that can be mistaken for a menstrual cycle.

The vast majority of people who do not show these usual signs still have a perfectly healthy pregnancy. If a lack of symptoms worries you, be sure to ask your healthcare provider if you're doing well and what you can expect.

Bring any and all questions you have to your next prenatal visit. Don't panic if you wonder if every little twinge is something wrong—that's normal. Your provider will be able to analyze what's going on, reassure you that everything is okay, and find solutions if anything is off.

Pregnancy vs. PMS

Many people confuse the symptoms of pregnancy with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Feeling a bit bloated? That's easy to pass off as normal since many people experience this around the time of their period. The same goes for things like a backache and cramping.

The only way to confirm your pregnancy is to take a pregnancy test or make an appointment with a healthcare provider. Doing this will also alleviate any worries you have.

If you are pregnant, keep in mind that most of these symptoms are normal. They're typically only an issue when they are so severe that they interfere with your daily life or health or if you have pregnancy symptoms that completely disappear, seemingly overnight.

When to Take a Pregnancy Test

If you suspect that you're pregnant, take a pregnancy test. These urine tests measure the level of human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, a hormone secreted when you're pregnant. The amount of hormone detectable by each test can vary widely. Every person also secretes a little more or less of the hormone, so the tests are not completely accurate.

The better tests on the market will measure 25 to 50 mIU/mL (milli-international units per milliliter) of hCG. This is usually the amount found in urine between the fourth and fifth weeks of gestation. The levels of hCG in your urine will be different from those in your blood.

First-morning urine will always contain the highest concentration of hCG. However, most tests do not require that you use first-morning urine. You can increase your chances of having enough hCG in your urine by waiting four hours after you last urinated to take the test. This allows the hCG to build up.

A negative result that is later revealed to be wrong is usually because the test was performed too early. A false positive, on the other hand, may indicate a very early miscarriage.

Talk to your practitioner if you have questions about your pregnancy tests. You can also call the toll-free number provided by the test manufacturer.

Blood tests are the most accurate and can be performed seven to 10 days post-ovulation. They may also be used to help predict the health of a pregnancy at various points. You'll need to visit your doctor to get one.

When to Call a Doctor or Midwife About Symptoms

If you have questions, it's important to ask a healthcare provider. Even if you don't have an appointment, they can address your concerns and make sure everything is okay.

They understand that you have a lot of questions and are willing to give you the answers, but you have to call. Many practitioners have someone available who just answers patients' questions all day long.

It's not unusual for the answers to lead to more questions. It is appropriate to ask clarifying questions—do not feel like you are taking up too much of your provider's time. They are there to help.

A Word From Verywell

Remember, pregnancy symptoms can start very early in pregnancy, but some take a while to develop. It can also be perfectly normal not to feel anything.

If you think you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test. If you're pregnant or unsure of your results, check in with your doctor or midwife.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.