By Eileen Bailey
For most women, missing a period is one of the first signs of pregnancy that women notice. For others, irregular periods make it difficult to know when a period should start and when it has been missed. There are, however, a number of early signs that can signal the need for a pregnancy test or a visit to the doctor.
Most women begin wondering about pregnancy when they have missed their period. However, a number of women have irregular periods or do not keep track of their periods. For these women, some of the other symptoms may signal a pregnancy. Some women may experience spotting (explained below) or light bleeding, and mistakenly think they have gotten a lighter than normal period.
Sore, swollen or tender breasts
Initially, women may have a soreness or tenderness in their breasts similar to the feeling before they get their period and as days go on, the feeling increases. This can begin as early as when someone is one to two weeks pregnant. For some, this can be painful or uncomfortable, for others it may seem more like an exaggerated form of PMS.
Feeling very tired for the first couple months of pregnancy is common. For some women, exhaustion or fatigue can begin as early as one week pregnant. This is thought to be caused by increased levels of progesterone. Fatigue often goes away after the first trimester (but may return again late in the pregnancy).
Nausea or vomiting
Morning sickness can begin when a woman is between two and four weeks pregnant. Some women never get morning sickness or only feel slightly nauseas. Morning sickness can last through the first trimester of pregnancy and then normally goes away. Although called “morning sickness” this nauseousness is not limited to just mornings and can occur throughout the day or night. In addition to nauseousness, some woman may develop an aversion to certain smells or feel sick around strong smells. This may be caused by the increase in estrogen causing the stomach to empty more slowly.
At about six weeks into a pregnancy, the frequency of urination usually increases. During pregnancy, a woman has a build up of fluids in her body. This increase in fluids causes extra fluids to be processed by the kidneys and go into the bladder. In addition to extra fluids, a growing uterus can put pressure on your bladder, making you continuously feel as if you need to urinate, however, this cause occurs later in the pregnancy.
Some women experience bloating and fluid retention, similar to how they feel shortly before getting their period. This is normal and can begin quite early in pregnancy. Abdominal bloating can make clothing feel tight, but is not caused by weight gain or by the uterus growing. Weight gain in the early stages of pregnancy is typically around 1 pound per month.
Some women experience spotting within the first one to two weeks of pregnancy. This occurs when the embryo implants itself onto the wall of the uterus. This is sometimes called Implantation Bleeding. Some women may also experience cramping and feel as if they are ready to get their period.
Headaches or Backaches
Increased hormones can sometimes cause headaches. Backaches are also common in the early part of pregnancy.
If you are experiencing some of the early symptoms of pregnancy, it may be time to take a home pregnancy test or call to set up an appointment with your doctor.
“Early Signs of Pregnancy”, 2005, American Pregnancy Association
'Pregnancy Symptoms: Top Ten Signs You Might Be Pregnant", 2006, Baby Center.com
“Pregnancy Symptoms”, 2008, Melissa Conrad Stoppler, M.D. Medicinenet.com