Early Symptoms of Pregnancy

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant, experiencing early symptoms of pregnancy, such as missing your menstrual period, can be a cause for joy.

If you get pregnant, when do pregnancy symptoms start and what will they entail? Let’s explore.

How Pregnancy Begins

During ovulation, one of your ovaries will release an egg into the fallopian tube, where it may be fertilized by sperm released during sex. If the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus, pregnancy begins.

Women experience the first symptoms of pregnancy at different times. For some women, symptoms begin during the week after conception. For others, symptoms may not start until a few weeks later.

Early Symptoms of Pregnancy: Missed Period and More

Soon after conception, pregnancy hormones increase, prompting a wide range of changes. Symptoms of pregnancy common during your first trimester—weeks one through 12 of pregnancy—include:

  • Absent menstrual period. A missed period may be the first sign of a possible pregnancy. A pregnancy test and a visit to your OB-GYN can confirm whether you’re pregnant.
  • Bleeding. A fertilized egg takes six to 12 days to attach to the wall of the uterus, which is known as implantation. When implantation occurs, you may experience implantation bleeding—mild bleeding or spotting that’s easy to confuse with your menstrual period. Compared with your period, however, implantation bleeding usually has a lighter blood flow, different color, and no clotting.
  • Breast tenderness. As soon as one week after conception, you may notice that your breasts feel tender or swollen. That’s because pregnancy hormones cause your breasts to retain more fluid, and your body directs more blood to your breasts. Your breasts will grow later in your first trimester. Wearing a supportive maternity or sports bra may help ease discomfort.
  • Intense fatigue. Pregnancy takes a lot out of you. You may feel this in the form of extreme tiredness as early as your first week of pregnancy. Your energy level will likely increase during your second trimester. In the meantime, rest as much as you can during the day and try to get a consistent amount of sleep each night.
  • Morning sickness. Don’t let the name fool you—morning sickness is a type of nausea that can occur any time of day. In addition to nausea, some women experience vomiting. Morning sickness can be one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy, but the good news is that it usually doesn’t last beyond the first trimester. Eating frequent small meals, avoiding spicy foods, staying hydrated, and sitting upright after eating instead of lying down may reduce morning sickness.

More Common Pregnancy Symptoms

A full-term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. Beyond the early symptoms of pregnancy, you may experience a variety of additional symptoms as you move through your first, second, and third trimesters. These symptoms include:

  • Body aches. You may feel achy in your back, stomach, legs, and feet. When aches occur, rest and apply heat to the affected area.
  • Food aversions. You may crave certain foods and find others unappealing. It’s fine to indulge your cravings within reason, provided you continue to get the nutrients you need. Try to steer clear of foods that make you feel nauseated.
  • Frequent urination. As your baby grows, so will pressure on your bladder, and you’ll find yourself needing to go to the bathroom more often. This symptom often begins early during pregnancy and lasts until birth. Keep drinking plenty of fluids—hydration is important for you and your baby—but try to completely empty your bladder with each bathroom trip. Don’t drink anything close to bedtime, if possible.
  • Heartburn. Toward the end of pregnancy, you may experience frequent heartburn as your baby grows and puts pressure on the stomach. To reduce heartburn, avoid potential trigger foods, such as spicy and fried foods. Eat small meals throughout the day, and drink fluids between them rather than with them.
  • Mood swings. Common during the first and third trimesters, sudden changes in mood are the result of higher hormone levels, stress, fatigue, and other factors. Practicing healthy habits—eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly—and taking time each day to do something relaxing or enjoyable may help with mood swings.

Prepare to Be a Parent

As your pregnancy progresses, you may find that one of the most enjoyable ways to prepare for parenthood is learning as much as you can about it. Options abound—you could take an online class about newborn care, for example, or listen to a podcast about breastfeeding.

Along with brushing up on parenthood, it’s important to make a plan for where and how to give birth. Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital offers everything babies—and new parents—need to thrive from day one, including inpatient and outpatient lactation services to help new mothers breastfeed successfully. And for babies who need extra medical help to start life on the right foot, the Kim and Steven Ullman Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is right here at Henry Mayo.

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