A pregnant woman lying in bed with a headache, holding her hand up to her forehead

Here's When To Expect Those Pregnancy Symptoms

by Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Whether you're pumped to experience the first sensations of pregnancy or already dreading the discomfort, you probably want to know what to expect, and when. How early do pregnancy symptoms start anyway?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, every woman is different. However, the average woman feels the first symptoms of her pregnancy about six weeks in (or two weeks after her missed period), according to The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant, by Jean M. Twenge.

Because premenstrual symptoms and pregnancy symptoms may be similar, Twenge noted in her book that you can't know for certain if the nausea and fatigue you might feel is baby related until you take a home pregnancy test. She also suggested that while many pregnancy tests talk a big game, it's just marketing. Some brands claim that you can take a test as early as six days after you ovulate — don't fall for it. A lot of science backs up the fact that pregnancy tests are most accurate 11 days after ovulation.

If you're expecting or hoping to be pregnant soon, you're probably already scanning your body for those first tell-tale signs. Mayo Clinic lists these common early symptoms: tender breasts, nausea, increased urination, food aversions, heartburn, constipation, and, my personal favorite, fatigue.

If you don't feel any symptoms within six weeks, don't panic, because you'll most likely be feeling it all very soon. A study showed that among women who later go on to delivery successfully, nearly 90 percent experience symptoms by week eight.

Romper touched base with Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and director of fertility preservation for Fertility Centers of Illinois, who writes in an email interview that "symptoms are incredibly subjective — some women feel nausea, more tired, crampy, or moody." Because every woman is different (consider making this your new mantra), she suggests that women may feel all or none of these symptoms.

Now, for more on that troublesome nausea you hear so much about.

When I was pregnant, one of my favorite books was Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong — And What You Really Need to Know. The book is by Emily Oster, an economist who studies public health, and does the hard work of reviewing pregnancy studies and statistics for you.

According to Oster, 90 percent of women report nausea of varying severity during pregnancy, with queasiness reaching its greatest intensity around weeks eight and nine. The good news? For most women, nausea tends to ease in the following weeks.

If you're wondering if you'll vomit — like pregnant ladies are always doing on TV — Oster has good(ish) news. According to one study, only 50 percent of women reported vomiting between weeks five and eight, and less than 15 to 20 percent reported hugging the toilet by week 17. On the bright side, nausea is a sign of a healthy pregnancy, and correlated with decreased rates of miscarriage, according to a study in Human Reproduction.

So, whether you're feeling pregnant yet or still waiting, keep in mind that the symptoms to come are evidence of a body hard at work. Get plenty of sleep at night, and, if at all possible, try to squeeze in a nap. Ice cream may help, too.