10 Signs That You May Be
in the Early Stages of Pregnancy

When you’re actively trying to conceive, it’s normal to always be on the lookout for any sign of pregnancy. These little clues give you hope and make you feel giddy with excitement at the thought of having a baby. You welcome the changes in your body, as uncomfortable as they may be, and can’t wait to take a test to get confirmation of your suspicions that your egg and his sperm have made a tiny human.

  1. Your Period is Late

One of the most common signs of pregnancy is a period that’s MIA. While other factors can contribute to missed periods, like stress, a change in your diet, or certain medications, it’s still a good sign. While most pregnancy tests claim to be accurate even before you miss your period, it’s still a good idea to wait until after it’s gone rogue. This is due to the fact that home pregnancy tests provide results based on the hCG levels in your body. These levels may be low or nonexistent until after the implantation process is complete.

  1. Your Breasts are Changing

Your hormone levels begin to change rapidly after you conceive. The estrogen and progesterone that your body produces to support the growth of a baby can also contribute to changes in your breasts, like swelling, soreness, and a tingly sensation. This is a sign of early pregnancy because once your body adjusts to the higher levels of hormones, breast pain should subside.

  1. You are Nauseous

Pregnancy nausea (or morning sickness) is not like motion sickness. Instead, it’s a constant feeling of needing to throw up. Even if you don’t actually lose your lunch, nausea can be a key sign of early pregnancy. And don’t let the name morning sickness fool you - it can happen all day, every day.

  1. You Just Want to Take a Nap

When you become a parent, you’re going to want a nap like never before. The same is true when you’re pregnant. The boost of the hormone progesterone in your body causes a feeling of extreme tiredness. It’s completely normal and important to give your body the rest it’s craving.

  1. You are Spotting and/or Cramping

Spotting and cramping may make you think you’re about to start your period. While this does happen, they can also signal that you’re pregnant. This is mainly due to implantation. When your body moves your fertilized egg into your uterus, you may feel some cramping and have a few spots of light pink blood in your underwear. Especially if you haven’t gotten your period, this is a symptom that can indicate pregnancy.

  1. Your Bathroom Habits are Changing

Progesterone is at it again. This fluctuating hormone can cause food to pass more slowly through your intestines, causing you to be constipated. Eating plenty of high-fiber foods, drinking a lot of water, and exercising regularly can help ease this discomfort. The good news? It’s a sign that you could be pregnant.

Needing to urinate more frequently than normal is also an indicator of early pregnancy caused by those fluctuating hormones. This usually begins around the 6th week of pregnancy and can last until you deliver your baby (it is pushing on your bladder, after all).

  1. You’re Moody and Don’t Know Why

There are times when you’re moody and you fully understand the reason. Maybe your co-worker took credit for a great idea that you had or your partner just doesn’t seem to understand how important it is to you that they are on time. Understandable. When you’re pregnant, though, you may find yourself getting irritated at the small things. Like someone breathing too loudly. It happens. Just knowing that it could be a sign of pregnancy can take you from feeling like a fire-breathing dragon to an excited mommy-to-be.

  1. You Keep Getting Headaches

Though usually mild, headaches are a sign of pregnancy for many women. Again, due to the fluctuating hormones in your body. Consult with your doctor before taking an over-the-counter painkiller. If you are pregnant, there are some that you shouldn’t take.

  1. You Have Food Cravings or Aversions

It’s an age-old joke that pregnant women crave pickles and ice cream. And for good reason. While this might not be what you’re craving (frosting and Doritos, anyone?), food cravings that would normally gross you out can be a sign that you’ve got a baby growing inside you.

On the flip side, you may find yourself completely disgusted by foods you typically enjoy. The taste or smell may be repulsive to you right now and that is enough to warrant taking a pregnancy test.

  1. You Have an Elevated Basal Body Temperature

Especially if you’re actively trying to conceive, you’re probably tracking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT). An elevated BBT is one of the many signs of early pregnancy that you shouldn’t ignore. Though your BBT can fluctuate, if it says high for 2 weeks, you should go ahead and take a test.

Some women get all these early pregnancy signs while others get only a couple. Either way, if you’re trying to conceive, it’s helpful to keep a journal of how you’re feeling. Try not to get too caught up in observing the signs - trying to conceive and being pregnant are both stressful events that can make you feel a bit intense. Monitor your signs and, when the time is right, take a pregnancy test.

PMS vs. Pregnancy Symptoms

When you’re trying to conceive, waiting to find out if you’re pregnant can feel like torture. Throw in Mother Nature’s way of making early pregnancy symptoms eerily similar to the signs that your period is on its way and you have a recipe for total confusion, with a little dash of anxiety thrown in for good measure. Especially if your period is late, knowing whether your body is displaying signs of pregnancy or premenstrual symptoms can be a challenge. Use this guide to decipher the symptoms and save your sanity. Click the + sign to read more details.

PMS: Since PMS typically occurs in the week or two leading up to your period, you shouldn’t experience any bleeding. That is unless you are spotting. While spotting is usually more common in women who have just started their periods or are reaching menopause, it’s possible -but not normal - to experience spotting during your most reproductive years.

Pregnancy: If you become pregnant, the embryo travels to the uterus and attaches which can cause light spotting. This is called implantation bleeding and usually occurs 6 to 12 days after conception and should be much lighter than your normal menstrual flow.

PMS: If your period is late due to stress, a change of eating or exercise habits, or another non-pregnancy related event, you shouldn’t experience any nausea.

Pregnancy: Morning sickness (ahem - all day sickness) is one of the most indicative signs of pregnancy. Nausea can begin as little as 3 weeks into a pregnancy and isn’t always accompanied by vomiting.

PMS: Due to rising progesterone levels during the second half of your menstrual cycle, an upcoming period could leave your breasts feeling sore or tender. This pain is often described as heavy and dull and should subside during or right after your period.

Pregnancy: The same hormone, progesterone, that causes breast pain when you’re PMSing is to blame for pregnancy-induced breast discomfort. Your breasts may feel swollen, tender, and full, starting around 2 weeks after you conceive. Unlike when you start your period, this breast pain isn’t going to go away. In fact, since progesterone is required to support a healthy baby, the tenderness of your breasts is likely to increase over the length of your pregnancy.

PMS: Dysmenorrhea, or premenstrual cramps, is common in women who are about to start their period. They often begin a day or two before your flow starts and ease as you begin to bleed.

Pregnancy: Pregnancy cramps, like other symptoms, are similar to PMS cramps. However, instead of being felt for only a couple of days, they will likely be lighter, more concentrated in your lower abdomen and back, and last for a few weeks to a few months.

PMS: Carbs, sweets, and salty treats may be calling your name when you’re close to starting your period. These cravings are your bodies response to hormonal changes like lower serotonin, a magnesium deficiency, or fluctuating blood sugar.

Pregnancy: You may have food cravings when you’re pregnant but they are probably going to be a lot more specific than when you’re menstruating. Additionally, it’s not uncommon to have aversions to foods that you normally enjoy - this can be the telltale sign that this symptom is pregnancy related.

There are some symptoms that are so identical to each other that it’s virtually impossible to tell whether they are due to pregnancy or your menstrual cycle. These include:

  • Mood swings
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Acne and breakouts
While symptoms alone are not enough to verify a pregnancy, there are certain traits that lean towards the baby-making side of things. If you are experiencing any of these, you might want to go ahead and take that pregnancy test.

Missed period - You can miss your period due to a number of reasons and pregnancy is one of them.

Darkening of the areola - Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause darkening of the skin, especially around your nipples. This can happen early on in pregnancy and the color may darken as your belly grows.

Increased sensitivity to odors - You can thank estrogen for this fun pregnancy indication. You might be able to smell your partner’s gym socks before they even open the front door or catch wafts of your neighbor's barbecue that makes your stomach turn. Classic pregnancy sign.

Frequent urination - The extra blood flow you experience when you’re pregnant can make your kidney’s produce up to 25% more urine. The need to pee every 5 minutes only gets more intense when your baby starts pressing on your bladder.

Increased Basal Body Temperature - Naturally, if you’re trying to get pregnant tracking your BBT is a key sign of pregnancy. If it’s elevated, you could be pregnant.

Determining whether your symptoms point to pregnancy or PMS can be easier to do on paper than in real life. If you’re trying to conceive, tracking your symptoms can help you notice when there are changes in your body that could point to pregnancy but your best bet is to take a pregnancy test.