Ah, the dreaded two week wait. When you’re trying to conceive, there’s nothing quite like the time between ovulation and your potential period as you’re anxiously excited while constantly on edge, monitoring every single symptom you feel in your body. The worst is trying to decipher whether those symptoms are PMS symptoms or pregnancy symptoms, because of course, they’re super similar. Luckily, there are some signs you may be pregnant besides a positive pregnancy test. Although some women may experience these symptoms before they start their periods, every once in awhile, these symptoms turn out to be signs of early pregnancy.
According to Dr. Gerardo Bustillo, OB-GYN at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, “In a study looking at pregnancy symptoms in 221 women attempting to conceive, 60 percent of women who did become pregnant experienced some signs of pregnancy as early as five to six weeks after the first day of their last menstrual period, and 90 percent were symptomatic by eight weeks.” So, if you have a positive pregnancy test, you can trust those results if you know the other signs and symptoms of pregnancy, like bloating, tender breasts, and nausea.
Unfortunately, a lot of the early pregnancy symptoms mimic your typical PMS symptoms, so it's not super easy to tell if you're with child or if you need to go get tampons, especially if you haven't taken a pregnancy test yet. Bustillo agrees, telling Romper, "These symptoms tended to begin abruptly and occur daily. They were not specific to pregnancy, however, because they also occurred in 9 percent of non-pregnant cycles."
Ugh. So what's a TTC woman to do? Pay attention to these 11 signs you may be pregnant besides a positive pregnancy test. They can help you feel a little more confident in those double lines or convince you to take a test already.
1. Mild Cramping & Bloating
While it may be hard for some women to differentiate between regular PMS cramps and early pregnancy cramps, some women report it feels differently because early pregnancy cramps are more like a tugging or pinching feeling. According to The Bump, it's because your uterus is shifting around and growing to make room for baby in addition to the possibility of implantation occurring. Most women bloat during PMS and early pregnancy, but when you're pregnant, the bloating is caused by progesterone being released into your system, where PMS bloating is usually water retention.
2. Constantly Having To Pee
Speaking of water retention, as long as it doesn't burn when you pee and you don't have any difficulty going, having to pee constantly is an early sign. Bustillo says, "It reflects the fact that the increased volume of blood during pregnancy is filtered by the kidney, and results in the bladder filling more frequently. Also as the uterus grows, the bladder’s capacity to fill is decreased, since the uterus and bladder compete for space in the pelvis." The Bump also mentioned that your kidneys expand in early pregnancy as well, hence making you have to pee more often. Bustillo adds that this is one of the most frequently reported symptoms, with more than 50 percent of women reporting it in all stages of pregnancy.
3. Nausea (With Or Without Vomiting)
Unfortunately, the term "morning sickness" is not 100 percent accurate, as in a lot of women, it happens at all times during the day (and night). "When nausea and vomiting recur daily, especially with no other signs of intestinal problems such as fever or diarrhea, pregnancy should be suspected," Bustillo says. You feel nauseous because of those lovely hormones raging.
According to The Mayo Clinic, you feel extreme fatigue in the early stages of pregnancy because "during early pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone soar — which might make you feel sleepy." Bustillo says fatigue occurs in up to one half of all pregnancies.
5. Digestive Distress
Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, heartburn, you name it, are all early pregnancy symptoms. The Mayo Clinic noted that hormonal changes slow down your digestive symptom, which causes distress in your bowels. So you may either feel like you have to go all the time (from constipation), or you may actually go all the time, depending on your body.
6. Skin Changes
You may not have that "pregnancy glow" quite yet, unfortunately. Skin changes in early pregnancy can include, "redness of the palms (palmar erythema), increased pigmentation of the face, darkening of the linea alba (line on the front of the abdomen running through the belly button to the pubic area), and darkening of the nipples," according to Bustillo.
7. Lingering Cold
Many women report having a cold they just couldn't shake or even thinking they had a sinus infection due to a runny nose and headache before getting a positive pregnancy test. How can snot equal pregnancy? The Mayo Clinic noted it's because of your "increasing hormone levels and blood production, [which can] cause the mucous membranes in your nose to swell, dry out, and bleed easily." Other schools of thought include your immune system being run down from pregnancy, which makes you more susceptible to a cold.
8. Light Brown Spotting
Though not all women experience this, some experience light brown spotting when they're pregnant. This is implantation bleeding, when your baby nestles into your uterine wall. "...it happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus — about 10 to 14 days after conception. Implantation bleeding occurs around the time of a menstrual period," the Mayo Clinic noted.
9. Mood Swings
Is everyone suddenly driving you absolutely crazy, and the smallest thing sets you off? Do you find yourself crying at stupid insurance commercials? You could be pregnant. According to Mayo Clinic, "The flood of hormones in your body in early pregnancy can make you unusually emotional and weepy. Mood swings also are common."
10. Sore, Tingly, Itchy Breasts & Nipples
While many women's breasts and nipples hurt when they're PMSing, pregnancy breasts are a different beast. Some women report tingling in their armpits or their breasts and nipples, while others claim they itched a lot. Mostly they just feel really heavy and full. "As the pregnancy progresses, breast enlargement is common, as well as some leaking of early milk formation from the nipples," Bustillo says. Thanks, hormones.
11. Missed Period
While a missed period is a super strong sign you're pregnant, you may be irregular or just stressed. However, if you're late by more than a week, Bustillo says you should suspect you're pregnant, especially if you haven't been using birth control. "But even in women who faithfully use contraception, pregnancy is possible because no method is 100 percent effective [except abstinence]," Bustillo says. "A missed period may be a difficult symptom to evaluate, because some women have irregular and prolonged cycles, and some vaginal bleeding occurs commonly in early normal pregnancy."
While a positive pregnancy test is the surest sign you're pregnant, you may want to consider peeing on a stick in the near future if you're experiencing any of the above symptoms and they aren't normal for your PMS symptoms. These symptoms, while paired with a missed period, are pretty good indicators you're pregnant, and you don't just have the flu.