First Signs of Pregnancy: What to Look For

January 08, 2024  By: Women's Health Team

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Content medically reviewed by Kelsey Redland-Kladivo, MD

A missed menstrual period can send your thoughts racing. Could pregnancy be the cause? A late or missed period is one of the most common first signs of pregnancy, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're expecting. To find out for sure, take a home pregnancy test, then see your primary care provider or gynecologist if you're still uncertain. In the meantime, watch for other early signs of pregnancy.

Symptoms of Early Pregnancy

The first signs of pregnancy may appear as soon as one week after conception, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Early symptoms vary, although many women have a late or missed period.

Some expectant mothers also have light bleeding around 10 to 14 days after conception. This occurs when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. Light bleeding isn't typically a cause for concern, but it's worth informing your provider.

"Your physician should evaluate any bleeding during pregnancy," said Dr. Kelsey Redland-Kladivo, family medicine physician providing surgical obstetrics at Essentia Health. "You should also see your physician for an evaluation if you’re having a difficult time keeping food down or are experiencing weight loss."

Other first signs and symptoms of pregnancy may include:

  • Sore and swollen breasts. You may experience breast swelling and tenderness in the early weeks of pregnancy in response to hormonal changes.
  • Morning sickness. Don't let the name fool you. You can have morning sickness, which is nausea with or without vomiting, at any time of the day or night.
  • Bloating. Shifting hormone levels can make you feel full.
  • Fatigue. After conception, your body makes higher levels of the hormone progesterone, which can cause extreme tiredness.
  • Metallic taste in your mouth. As your hormone levels change, so, too, can your sense of taste, potentially leaving you with an unpleasant metal flavor on your tongue from time to time.
  • Mood swings. It's normal to go through emotional ups and downs.
  • Frequent urination. Extra fluid in your body from increased blood production may lead to more trips to the bathroom.
  • Food aversions. You may find certain foods off-putting. On the other hand, you may crave some foods you didn't like before you were pregnant.

What to Do After You Notice the First Signs of Pregnancy

To find out whether you’re pregnant, take a home pregnancy test.

"The best time to take a pregnancy test is in the morning with your first urination of the day," Dr. Redland-Kladivo said. "If you have any doubt about the results, contact your medical provider. I recommend patients come to the clinic for a test if they’re in doubt because, sometimes, the first signs of pregnancy can mimic those of other conditions."

A missed period, for example, may be the result of stress or weight changes. A stomach illness can cause nausea. Taking a pregnancy test at home or in the office can help you figure out why your symptoms are occurring. If you're pregnant, you should see your physician for routine health checks at least every four weeks, according to Dr. Redland-Kladivo.

Finding Relief From the First Signs of Pregnancy

Making some healthy changes to your daily routine can help you manage the early symptoms of pregnancy. Getting plenty of sleep and taking naps during the day may reduce fatigue. Exercising regularly can help relieve both fatigue and mood swings. To reduce morning sickness, Dr. Redland-Kladivo recommends staying hydrated and eating small, bland snacks every couple of hours.

"There are things to enjoy about pregnancy, but it's important to know that you don't have a lot of control over it, which can be overwhelming," Dr. Redland-Kladivo said. "It's an introduction to parenthood. Sometimes, your baby is the one making the decisions about what’s going to happen today."

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