I will never forget laying on my couch, laptop in hand, googling “pregnancy signs” and wondering if my strange symptoms might mean I was actually with child. I didn’t have morning sickness or any of the traditional signs you're pregnant. I just thought I was getting the flu, or maybe my non-stop work schedule was finally getting the best of me because damn I was exhausted. Was this “can’t get off the couch” feeling a sign of pregnancy? I wasn’t sure, and I definitely didn’t want to invest in a pregnancy test just yet.
It turns out I was pregnant, a fact that turned my world around and totally blew my mind. I always assumed I’d know at the moment of conception — I was just so tuned into my body. Turns out I was walking around with a growing fetus for months, with absolutely no indication of what was happening inside my body. And I’m not alone in this uncertainty.
Some women experience the classic pregnancy signs immediately. For others, it takes weeks for the morning sickness and crazy cravings to kick in (if they ever do.) Heck, some women don’t realize they’re pregnant until a doctor delivers the news during the second trimester. But if you’re wondering if you fatigue and and new-found sense of smell could actually indicate a baby on the way, here are seven common pregnancy symptoms to be on the lookout for.
1. Extreme Exhaustion
Not only was this my one and only glaring pregnancy sign, but it’s one of the most common symptoms. I reached out to over 300 moms and asked for their tell-tale signs of pregnancy, and the vast majority said something along the lines of, “Oh my God, I was so tired.” Who knew?
It makes sense, though. During the first trimester, What To Expect notes that your body is building a life-support system, including manufacturing the placenta, which can take a lot of energy. Mayo Clinic adds that you’re also experiencing a shift in metabolism and moods, as well as a mega spike in progesterone — all of which can bring on flu-like fatigue. Your extreme sleepiness could also be a symptom of iron-deficiency anemia, which is pretty common in pregnancy. Don’t worry, most women get their groove back in the second trimester.
2. A Queasy Stomach
Most women know that if you’re inexplicably vomiting every day (which may or may not happen in the morning, by the way), odds are you might be pregnant. According to Healthline, pregnancy nausea can start around week four, but typically hits full force by week six. Morning sickness typically subsides after week 12, but some unlucky ladies experience periodic bouts of vomiting through all three trimesters. And for the very unlucky, extreme sickness could mean you have hyperemesis gravidarum. I experienced one or two weeks of nausea, and I know plenty of friends who sailed right through pregnancy without any sickness. May the odds be ever in your favor.
3. Strong Sense Of Smell
A change in smells — whether it’s a craving, aversion, or overall heightened ability — is a pretty common (and unexpected) symptom of early pregnancy. Just like so many other pregnancy symptoms, you can probably thank your changing hormones, specifically estrogen, for your bionic smelling skills — although the data on why it happens is generally inconclusive. Study after study, including a 2004 study in Chemical Senses, find undeniable anecdotal evidence to support smell sensitivity in pregnancy, and yet there’s no solid scientific research to back it up.
4. Sore Boobs
I always had breast tenderness leading up to my period, so I didn’t think much of my sore pregnancy boobs. “Period must be coming,” I thought. Turns out that’s a very common sign of pregnancy, too. But why? According to Babble, breast tenderness happens because your levels of estrogen and progesterone shoot through the roof, causing our mammary tissues to respond and our breast glands to enlarge.
5. Major Bitch Mode
It might not be PMS, ladies. 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.”
6. Period-Like Symptoms
You might not think abdominal cramping and light bleeding are actually signs of pregnancy, but that “extra light period” might be the opposite of Aunt Flow’s annual visit. It’s known as implantation bleeding, and it happens when your fertilized egg attaches to your uterus lining, typically 10 to 14 days after conception, according to Mayo Clinic. You might also experience some digestion issues like bloating and constipation during early pregnancy (thanks to progesterone.) You may write this symptom of as a sign of your impending period, but there’s a chance that it won’t come for another nine months.
The fainting pregnant woman might be a cheesy caricature, but there’s some truth in it. As Mayo Clinic explains, because your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure drops in early pregnancy, it can leave you feeling woozy and unstable. (Word of the wise: Don’t stand up too fast.)
Your pregnancy hormones could cause a slew of other issues — I spoke with moms who reported migraines, heartburn, and constantly needing to pee as go-to pregnancy symptoms, while others said they had zero signs besides waiting around for a period that never showed. So are you pregnant? It’s hard to tell. There’s no cookie-cutter answer for everyone, as much as you wish there was. The only thing to do is head to the drugstore, pee on a stick, and hope for the best.