You’re probably familiar with some of the telltale early symptoms (hello, nausea!). But figuring out exactly what is going on in your body when you’re hoping for a baby can be a little more mysterious than you’d like — especially because a lot of the signs that mean “You’re pregnant!” are exactly the same as the ones that foreshadow an impending period. Nina Boyce, a fertility educator and coach (as well as an Expectful expert) says that unfortunately, many of the signs and symptoms of PMS can feel very similar to early pregnancy symptoms. This can be confusing and frustrating for people trying to conceive.
That’s why understanding some of the signs and symptoms (as well as their hormonal causes) can help, especially when you’re trying to puzzle out if you’re pregnant or not. Here’s our list of the ultimate (and a few more unexpected) signs and symptoms of early pregnancy.
10 Most Common Pregnancy Symptoms and Why They Happen
Rising hormones in early pregnancy are to thank for this sign. Breast pain and soreness in early pregnancy can feel dull and achy or just super sensitive (especially on the nipples—ouch!). Your breasts may feel swollen and tender, or even tingly.
Longer luteal phase
The luteal phase is the time between when you ovulate and when you get your period. “The average luteal phase is between 7 and 19 days,” explains Boyce, so if you’re tracking your cycle and see your luteal phase go several days beyond its normal length, there’s a good chance you’ve got a baby on the way!
Twinges and cramping
This is another slightly confusing sign that can be a impending period symptom rather than pregnancy symptom. Still, Boyce says that feeling twinges, light cramping or slight pulling sensations in your uterus can be an early sign of a fetus making themselves comfortable. She explains, “Cramping can mean that your uterus is getting ready to change or is starting to expand. It can be a normal pregnancy sign.”
Queasiness, food aversion, even vomiting—these not-so-fun feelings often spell pregnancy. Although it’s a well-known symptom in the first trimester, generally nausea doesn’t kick in until after a positive pregnancy test. It can start at about two weeks after conception up to about 8 weeks, and can last throughout the first trimester (and sometimes, even longer). Much of the research suggests that hCG is the culprit to these sick feelings, so having a test that accurately detects your exact hCG levels could help you make sense of what’s going on. (Keep reading to learn more about the hCG test we love.)
If you usually notice spotting before your period and you’re not seeing it this time around, that can be a sign of pregnancy, explains Boyce. This is because the uterine lining is sticking around to nourish the fetus, rather than releasing for a period.
Your cervical mucus turns creamy
If you’re trying to conceive, you may be paying extra close attention to your cervical mucus (the fluid produced by your cervix, which changes throughout your cycle in correlation to your fertility status). Usually, cervical mucus dries up before menstruation.
But if you find that your cervical mucus turns back to a creamy white texture rather than drying out, that could be a pregnancy symptom. Boyce says that this occurs because estrogen is rising during the first few days and weeks of being pregnant.
Feeling the pressure to pee? That’s also an encouraging early sign of pregnancy. But unlike the increased urination of later pregnancy (which is caused by the baby putting pressure on your bladder), Boyce says that this happens “because progesterone is rising and increases your blood volume. That, in turn, triggers your kidneys to get rid of waste more quickly, which can tell your body to feel like it wants to pee more.”
If you’re noticing some bleeding when you brush your teeth—you guessed it!—that’s another unusual clue into the status of your uterus. Due to increased progesterone, pregnant women are prone to bleeding gums.
Feeling tired? Really, really tired? Like you could lie down on the couch and nap all day? Yup, that sounds like a sign of very early pregnancy. Once again, those amazing hormones are responsible, especially progesterone. Feeling sleepy and fatigued is very common throughout all forty weeks of pregnancy—but it can also cue a realization in the first few weeks, especially if you find yourself literally not able to keep your eyes open.
If you’re charting your cycle (taking your body basal temperatures and logging it on paper or in a cycle-tracking app) says Boyce, you may be able to identify pregnancy by your basal body temperature. Generally, people’s temperatures go up a bit after ovulation and then sometimes, they go up a bit again once pregnancy is achieved. When this happens, it’s called a triphasic chart. Says Boyce: “There will be a range of temperatures before ovulation, after ovulation, and then some higher temperatures. 18+ days of high temperatures after ovulation is a pretty sure sign that you’re pregnant.”
The Most Accurate Way to Test for Pregnancy
Of course, one of the easiest ways you can determine if you’re pregnant or not is to take an at-home pregnancy test. Easily available over the counter, urine pregnancy tests detect if hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone secreted in pregnancy) is present in your body. hCG can be found in either urine or blood. Most women aren’t as familiar with an hCG blood test, which is even more accurate since it gives you an actual hCG number. Labcorp has an hCG pregnancy test that you can purchase on your own. This blood test can help confirm a pregnancy with greater accuracy and earlier in gestation than many at-home OTC pregnancy tests. Since the test measures the concentration of hCG in the blood, it’s also great for progressive monitoring and may help detect potential problems.
So, if you’re tired of guessing and second-guessing, take this hCG test to truly know one way or the other. We understand how “in your head” you can feel when constantly looking for signs of pregnancy, so we encourage you to track, monitor, and test for the true signs of motherhood. This test is easy to complete – simply order online, set up your sample contribution at a local Labcorp facility, and boom – you’re done. The results will be delivered to you in an online portal.
Whichever way your test goes, know that the team at Expectful is here for you, because we know the journey to motherhood can feel overwhelming. We have even more wellness information and mindfulness practices on our app to help you through these moments of uncertainty, from fertility through motherhood. Find a sense of inner calm on our app today.
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