Now that you’ve stopped taking birth control and started tracking your basal body temperature, you’re well and truly in the TTC – Trying to Conceive – stage. You’re getting down with your other half as often as you can, and you’re waiting for that ever elusive BFP (Big Fat Positive).
But are these symptoms you’re feeling just another month of PMS, or are they something more? Could it be you really could have a muffin in the oven?
If you just can’t wait until a missed period, here are some early signs of pregnancy to look out for before you test.
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What are the early signs of pregnancy before a missed period?
Many signs of early pregnancy are similar to the signs of a coming period, and it’s easy to confuse the two. So while these may be an indicator that you have conceived, there’s no way to know for sure until you have it confirmed with a positive test.
Tender and painful breasts are often one of the very firsts signs of conception, as the rising estrogen levels can be felt there within just a couple of days.
Kia from Come Wag Along says, “I’ll first notice breast tenderness in the shower…just the pressure of the water would alert me which doesn’t happen unless I’m pregnant.”
Virginia from Mandarin Mama agrees. She shared a similar experience. “For my first pregnancy, my breasts were very tender and hurt when I took a shower under the water. My friend told me to take a pregnancy test and sure enough, I was.”
But since many women also get sore breasts when they are expecting their periods, they may brush it off. In fact, the only difference between breast pain from pregnancy versus period is that it will stick around a lot longer if you’re pregnant!
Speaking of your breasts, one sure-fire sign that can’t be confused with your period is the darkening of your areolas. Your areola is the area directly around your nipple, and it is known to sometimes get larger and darker during pregnancy. It may also start to get tiny bumps appearing on it, which are lubricating glands that will help later if you decide to breastfeed.
While this is definitely a very awesome sign of pregnancy, there is one downside. It often doesn’t show up until a few weeks after conception, and many women don’t even notice it. So you’ll probably already have a confirmed pregnancy test before this one is truly useful. Womp womp.
Early pregnancy is hard on the body. Making a brand new human takes up a lot of energy, and all that progesterone will exhaust your body more than you can imagine is even possible.
For Allaya from Babydroppings, fatigue was definitely the sign she needed to take a pregnancy test. She explained, “With my second, I was feeling really tired and nauseous, and fell asleep while watching my three-year old daughter (which I almost never do). The line was faint, but it was there!”
If you find yourself desperate for a nap during the day or going to bed earlier at night, or if you just fall asleep in the weirdest situations, you may be on your way to a BFP.
Everyone knows about the dreaded morning sickness. It’s when you start to get a bit queasy and feeling like you may throw up at any second. But the truth is that true morning sickness doesn’t generally come on until you’re a little farther in – around the six week pregnant mark.
Pregnancy nausea is caused by a sudden onslaught of hormones that creates havoc in your body. Anecdotally, though, many women report feeling nauseous or even vomiting randomly before their periods are due, and it’s what tips them off to being pregnant.
Ravelle from MommyBrain writes, “Nausea is always my first sign. I always knew I was pregnant because I would wake up and have this feeling of nausea that stayed with me regardless of what I ate.”
Thankfully there are all sorts of pregnancy-safe products to help you with your nausea, but some women like the reassurance it brings. So don’t write it off just yet!
Sensitivity to Smells
A rise in estrogen levels directly after conception can be responsible for a more sensitive schnoz. But this can also be the case when your period is imminent. Still, combine it with any of the other symptoms, and you can start to find a reason to get excited.
Laura from Day By Day in Our World said her first sign of pregnancy was “wanting to puke at the smell of coffee and other things like raw meat.” The struggle is very real.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, you’ve probably become very familiar with your own cervical mucus. Throughout the month, it goes through various forms, from thin and watery to thick and creamy to slimy and sticky.
If your cervical mucus is nice and creamy after ovulation and continues to stay that way, it’s a great sign that you may have hit the pregnancy jackpot.
This one cuts a little close, but around two weeks after conception, right around the same time your period is due, you may find that you have a desperate need to pee more often. This is when your progesterone levels are increasing and your uterus is starting to grow, putting pressure on your bladder.
At the same time, your kidneys are getting ready to start the process of filtering out all the excess fluid that your new passenger will be creating.
Elevated Basal Body Temperature
If you’ve been trying to conceive, you may have been tracking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) as a way of monitoring your fertility. Your BBT is the temperature of your body when it’s completely at rest.
Generally speaking your BBT rises around the time you ovulate due to higher progesterone levels and then drops when you have your period as the progesterone level goes down.
But if your BBT continues to stay high in the days between your ovulation and expected period date, it’s a good indication you may have a baby on board.
Some women experience light spotting around ten days or so after conception occurs, which is caused by the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus. It usually stops after a couple of days, which can cause confusion to some women who may have confused it for their period.
Implantation bleeding will usually occur about a week before your period is due, however, so if you see a small amount of blood or pink discharge between ovulation and your expected period, you might just have some good news soon.
Early pregnancy can cause your digestive system to slow down, which can make you feel bloated and gassy. Unfortunately, menstruation can have this effect, as well, so it isn’t always the best early indication of a pregnancy. But look for it in conjunction with some of the other, more definite, signs and it could mean exciting things!
Just like we mentioned above, your digestive system can slow down a lot in early pregnancy due to those pesky hormones. If you’re not necessarily trying to conceive, and you’ve missed a period, constipation could be a good sign you may want to take a test!
As with morning sickness, a lot of food aversions don’t happen right away. But for some moms to be, it’s the first sign that something is going on!
Jamie from Splendry recalls, “I had zero appetite. I didn’t feel sick, just food sounded disgusting.”
These food aversions can last all through pregnancy, or they may be short-lived. They can go hand in hand with sensitivity to smell and nausea.
On the other hand, craving foods can also be a sign. Having intense and specific preferences can start early and last throughout your entire pregnancy.
Some women may even have cravings for non-food items like chalk or dirt! This is a condition called pica, and it is thought to be a response to a lack of specific nutrients.
Dizziness and light headedness is common in early pregnancy and can happen on and off throughout the entire nine months. It happens because blood vessels dilate, making your blood pressure fall.
Dizziness can be quite scary, and it’s important to keep yourself safe by holding on to something or someone when you’re experiencing it or even sitting or laying down if necessary.
And if dizziness is accompanies by pain or bleeding, you definitely need to see a doctor right away.
Early pregnancy can bring out the worst in women. Hormones are flowing like they’ve never flown before, and just like in PMS, it can cause a fluctuation in moods.
When I was pregnant with my first child, before I even knew I was expecting, I was visiting Las Vegas with my husband. I don’t even remember what I was upset about, but as he was loading our suitcases into a taxi so we could go to our hotel, I angrily left him and walked off into a mall and disappeared for twenty minutes. I had no phone or money on me, so there was no way to get in touch, but I was so angry, I didn’t care.
When I finally found my way back, he was frantic, not knowing what had happened or why, thinking I had been kidnapped right out from under his nose. Looking back it’s almost funny, but at the time, it was confusing and pretty scary. And all because I was pregnant and moody.
While headaches are a common symptom of PMS, the cause is different in pregnancy. Progesterone and estrogen are working hard to prepare the uterus for a new baby, which can cause your blood sugar to dip.
When blood sugar is low, a headache can result, which can often be cured with a quick snack.
Metallic Taste in Mouth
Hormones are to blame for much of our problems in early pregnancy, and one of the weirdest is something called dysgeusia. This is where you feel like you have a metallic taste in your mouth, and it’s a common indication that you may be pregnant.
This symptom typically will disappear after the first trimester, but for some women it may last longer.
As your blood volume increases, even before your period is due, you may find yourself becoming excessively thirsty. Perhaps this is part of the reason for all that excess urination?
Also, did you know they make adorable pregnancy water bottles??
This symptom is less common, but it is very real for some women. It is called ptyalis gravidarum, and it is thought to be related to nausea in that your mouth often fills up with excess saliva when you are feeling sick to your stomach. This can come out in the form of drool.
Shortness of Breath
Breathing for two starts early, and it lasts throughout the entirety of your pregnancy! For some women, soon after conception they will begin to feel more winded with even a small amount of exertion. If you find yourself unnaturally out of breath, it could be a sign your eggo is preggo!
Most people associate hot flashes with menopause, but they are also common in pregnancy and even during your period! In fact, these three things all have something important in common – hormones!
Early pregnancy hot flashes can be intense, lasting several seconds to several minutes. If these are new to you, they may be a sign of impending pregnancy.
Acne or Skin Changes
Some women report odd changes to their skin once pregnancy sets in. While many women say they have an acne flair up, others report an absolute pregnancy glow! Some may find that their usually dry skin becomes luminous and soft while others find their normally soft skin becomes dry or extra oily.
If you notice your skin changing in small or large ways, it could be an early pregnancy sign you don’t want to overlook.
Extra vivid dreams are a widely reported phenomenon that many women can attest to. Some put it down to pregnancy hormones, which is the most likely culprit. Others believe that their new baby’s mind is infiltrating their dream world!
Whatever the cause, these dreams seem to begin within days of conception and gain strength in the lead up to your period due date. In all of my pregnancies, I’ve dreamed of having a baby before my period was due, and sure enough – I was pregnant!
How reliable are early pregnancy symptoms?
Let’s be honest. Most of these symptoms and signs are not going to be reliable in figuring out if you are pregnant or not. If you have a lot of them and your period is late, I think you’ve got a good shot at being pregnant. But the only way to know for sure is to take a test.
Katie Reed is a passionate writer and mother of four vivacious boys from Salt Lake City, Utah. Drawing from her own journey through TTC, pregnancy, and the joys of raising children, she offers a wealth of insight into the world of motherhood. Beyond her heartfelt tales, Katie delights her readers with family-friendly recipes, engaging crafts, and a curated library of printables for both kids and adults. When she’s not penning her experiences, you’ll find her crafting memories with her husband and sons—Dexter, Daniel, Chester, and Wilder.