When my husband and I first began to warm up to the idea of getting pregnant, I started obsessively evaluating any and all possible symptoms like clockwork every month. I, like many women in my shoes, probably spent hours on the internet Googling frantically in an attempt to find out if I was pregnant before the time it would have shown up on a home test. Now that I'm on my third go-around with this gestation thing, when it comes to signs of pregnancy, I have a much better idea of what to look for and what to disregard.
Most women know to look for the cliché pregnancy symptoms that they hear a lot about, like morning sickness, but fewer of us think to check for things like darkening of areolas. Symptoms vary from woman to woman, and no one has the exact same early pregnancy signs as their best friend, but if you find yourself noticing several on this list, it may be time to perk up that antennae, head to the drugstore, and get ready to pee on a stick.
If you think you may be pregnant, it's important to visit your doctor or midwife to confirm; they will do a urine test and provide you with a certainty that Googling fertility forums can't. Not that I've done that, ahem.
In the meantime, here are 20 signs of pregnancy to look for:
1. Nausea & Vomiting
These symptoms traditionally associated with pregnancy are tricky: some women don't experience them at all while others throw up all day, not just in the morning. Margaret Buxton, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) at Baby+Co, tells Romper, "Most people have morning sickness because the stomach acids have built up on an empty stomach overnight, but it’s not abnormal to feel nauseous at other times during the day."
According to the American Pregnancy Association, increased headaches during pregnancy are due to the sudden rise of hormones in your body as well as increased blood flow, since you have 50 percent more volume when you are expecting.
3. Vaginal Discharge
Experiencing increased vaginal discharge is often one of the first signs of pregnancy, says Buxton. In fact, the CNM tells Romper that it's completely normal to have more cervical mucus throughout your entire pregnancy, so if you're seeing it now, it might be a good idea to invest in a big ol' box of panty liners.
Spotting (or noticing light bleeding in your underwear or the toilet) can be a hellishly scary experience for a woman hoping to conceive. But the good news is it doesn't necessarily indicate a miscarriage, rather could be a positive indicator of the fertilized egg implanting into the uterine wall. Buxton says that 25 percent of women experience spotting in their first trimester.
5. Swollen Or Tender Breasts
According to the American Pregnancy Association, breast changes were the first symptoms to tip off 17 percent of expectant mothers. I can tell you from personal experience that a curvier upstairs is definitely one of the, uh, perks of pregnancy.
Many women feel exhausted in the first weeks of pregnancy, and a huge spike in progersterone is the culprit. If you find yourself struggling to stay vertical without copious amounts of caffeine, you just might have a bun in the oven.
If you experience lower abdominal cramping, you may assume your period will be starting any day. However, Buxton says, "Cramping during early pregnancy is common due to an increased blood flow to the uterus and pelvic area. It can also be related to the gut — your digestion slows down in the first trimester due to the increased progesterone and that can lead to gas and bloating."
Parenting magazine reported that if you suddenly find yourself with back pain, pregnancy could be the reason why. Even though your body weight distribution hasn't yet been thrown out of whack, the loosening of ligaments in the first few weeks of gestation has been known to cause back pain.
9. Frequent Urination
No, you don't have a little one playing trampoline on your bladder just yet but the need to camp out on the toilet is not just your imagination. Buxton explains that extra blood flow to the kidneys happens right after you get pregnant and produces 25 percent more urine that you had previously.
10. Cravings Or Aversions
Most women experience some food cravings or aversions, or both, during pregnancy. The hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (or hCG), doubles every few days during your first trimester, driving your taste buds to new heights, noted Healthline. Aversions may also be connected to nausea, as it's hard not to associate vomiting with the last food that made you do so.
11. Dark Areolas
One of the lesser known signs of early pregnancy is the darkening of the circle of skin around your nipples, or the areolas, according to Pregnancy Corner. This happens because the hormones estrogen and progesterone cause the body to produce more pigment. The areolas will also get larger as pregnancy continues, with some women likening theirs to the size of saucers.
12. Mood Swings
Mood swings are not reserved for the third trimester alone. According to the American Pregnancy Association, mood swings are actually just as common in the first six to 10 weeks, due to changes in your hormone levels affecting your neurotransmitters.
No, it's not that baby bump popping out just yet. If you're noticing a newfound roundness in your lower abdomen, uterine swelling might be the reason why, according to Baby Center. The endometrium thickens to support a developing embryo which, in addition to increased blood flow, can cause your uterus to swell. Other less exciting reasons could be gas and constipation, which plague many women throughout pregnancy.
14. Motion Sickness
I'm always a little prone to motion sickness, but like clockwork, it is guaranteed to ramp up in my first trimesters, Baby Center noted. The phenomenon is not surprising, since women in early stages of pregnancy are more susceptible to nausea in general. But if just getting into the car makes you want to roll down the window and hurl, you might need to grab a pregnancy test.
15. Faster Heartbeat
You're probably not measuring your heartbeat on a daily basis, but if you notice it start to skyrocket during normal exercise or after a few sips of coffee it should probably raise an eyebrow. Throughout a normal pregnancy — yes, even in the first trimester — your resting heart rate will increase by 10 to 20 beats per minute, according to Duke University Medical Center.
16. Temperature Change
Your body temperature is another thing you are likely not monitoring daily, but some women do reach for a thermometer every morning to gauge their fertility — and for good reason. Not only will a rise in basal body temp indicate ovulation, according to Healthline, but it will also tell you very early if you have conceived.
I know, you thought you left that issue behind with your high school diploma. Unfortunately, pregnancy can cause acne to rear it's ugly, uh, head, Verywell noted. Treatment options are highly regulated, as some such as Accutane have been known to cause birth defects.
18. Missed Period
Obviously, this is the pregnancy sign that almost everyone knows. But it's still surprising how easily it can be missed, especially if the woman hasn't been paying attention to her dates or if she suffers from unpredictable cycles. If you've studied your fertility, however, noting a missed period can be an easy way to spot a pregnancy, suggested the American Pregnancy Association.
19. Heightened Sense of Smell
Sometimes it can feel like a superpower, other times like the worst of all curses, but a crazy sense of smell is definitely one of the early signs of pregnancy, wrote Pregnancy Magazine. Apparently estrogen is the specific hormone to blame for this one, but levels of sensitivity will vary for everyone.
20. Change In Libido
The spectrum of experience is wide open here: While some pregnant women experience increased sexual desire and pleasure (thanks to lots of blood flow in our nether regions), others would rather gauge out their eyes for the entire nine months, noted Healthline. But it cannot be denied that a change in libido is a possible sign of pregnancy one way or the other, so be sure to follow up if you notice a sudden shift.
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