Signs of Pregnancy

The body changes in pregnancy leads to multiple signs and symptoms that often vary in degree of severity from one woman to another. The rising pregnancy hormone (estrogen) levels are responsible for most of the early symptoms while the later signs may result from certain other factors such as the growing uterus and the increased blood volume.

When do the signs of pregnancy first start?

The time for the beginning of possible pregnancy symptoms generally varies from one woman to another, depending on one’s age, medical history, genetic factors etc. However, most women start experiencing the early signs in the 3rd or 4th week of pregnancy with implantation bleeding or spotting (brown vaginal discharge) often being the initial sign. However, the missed period is usually the major symptom of pregnancy.

What are the earliest signs of a healthy pregnancy?

Following are the earliest physical signs, usually occurring within the first 2 to 4 weeks, even before you notice the missed period:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Intense Dreams
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Lower back pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased vaginal discharge

However, it is completely normal to have no noticeable signs at this stage. It is also possible to experience the above symptoms and yet have a negative home pregnancy test. In such cases, it is recommended to wait one week and do another test. Because sometimes, the symptoms may start too early for a HPT to detect the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in the urine.

Other common early pregnancy signs

The above symptoms usually continue throughout the first trimester, sometimes even the whole of your pregnancy, often along with:

  • Mild to severe nausea and vomiting (morning sickness)
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Frequent urination
  • Breast changes such as swelling and tenderness
  • Increase in your basal body temperature (low grade fever)
  • Food cravings and aversions
  • Increased sense of smell
  • Dysgeusia or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Leg cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Groin and pelvic pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness or feeling sleepy all the time
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry mouth and excessive thirst
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn and acid reflux
  • Milky white, pale yellowish or clear sticky cervical mucus
  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Sore or itchy nipples
  • Feeling full all the time (mainly due to the increased blood supply to the uterus)
  • Excessive saliva production
  • Darkening areolas
  • Night sweats
  • Sneezing and stuffy or runny nose (Rhinitis of pregnancy)
  • Sore throat and flu like symptoms (many women think they are coming down with cold before finding out they are actually pregnant)
  • Alternative chills and hot flashes
  • Flatulence
  • Excessive gas and burping

Are there any other signs of pregnancy?

Here are some other common symptoms that can occur any time from the first month to the last few weeks of your third trimester:

  • Allergies and asthma
  • Changes in balance, especially in the later weeks (due to the growing uterus changing your center of gravity)
  • Dry, itchy skin (especially around the expanding belly, breasts and back)
  • Skin rashes or hives
  • Enlarged breasts (as your body prepares for breastfeeding)
  • Pica (craving for unusual or non edible items)
  • Bleeding gums
  • Nosebleeds
  • Weight gain
  • Migraines (especially in women with a history of the disorder)
  • Prominent veins (due to all the extra blood in your body)
  • Acne outbreak
  • Round ligament pain
  • Vision changes (due to the increased blood volume)
  • Swelling or edema (mainly of the hands and feet)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Varicose veins of pregnancy
  • Anxiety, depression and unexplained crying
  • Melasma or mask of pregnancy (darkening of certain skin areas)
  • Dehydration
  • Bleeding during or after intercourse
  • Linea nigra (a dark line running down your belly)
  • Stress incontinence or leaking urine when sneezing or laughing (as the pregnancy hormone weakens the sphincter muscles that control urine release from bladder)
  • Increased hair growth (often on the face, abdomen and chest)
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep disturbances or insomnia
  • Green stool (rare)
  • Hiccups

Signs of twin pregnancy

The symptoms of a multiple pregnancy is usually the same as any singleton one. But, you are likely to experience them in a more severe form when carrying twins or triplets. The pregnancy hormone levels, responsible for most of the signs, are even higher in a multiple pregnancy while the elevation of blood volume is also greater to provide oxygen and nutrients to multiple fetuses. So, the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, appetite changes, stomach pain, frequent urination, stress, depression, tiredness and fatigue are likely to occur much earlier and are felt with more emphasis.

Pregnancy warning signs

After reading about all the common, uncommon and weird signs of pregnancy, you should also know about the warning signs that might indicate a serious complication. Here are a few danger signs that call for a visit to your doctor or midwife:

  • Severe, persistent abdominal pain with or without back ache
  • Severe bleeding (might indicate a miscarriage)
  • Nausea and vomiting severe enough to interfere with your daily life, lasting for over 24 hours
  • Persistent headache accompanied by symptoms like blurred vision, severe edema and chest pain (might indicate high blood pressure or preeclampsia)
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating and dark or cloudy urine along with fever, nausea and vomiting (might indicate a UTI, kidney infection or yeast infection)
  • Severe itching of hands and feet, especially the palms and soles (might indicate a liver disorder)
  • Rapid weight gain (over 4 pounds a week) along with considerable swelling of the face, hands and feet
  • Sharp abdominal cramps along with lightheadedness, nausea and vomiting (might indicate a tubal or ectopic pregnancy)
  • More swelling in one leg that the other (unilateral swelling) along with pain in the calf and/or thigh (might indicate a blood clotting disorder)
  • Excessive hunger and thirst (might indicate gestational diabetes, especially in women with a history of the disorder)
  • Fever (over 102 °F) along with rashes and joint pain (might indicate serious infections that might lead to birth defects in the unborn baby)
  • Clear or pale yellowish thin discharge (might indicate amniotic fluid leakage)
  • Palpitations, difficulty breathing or coughing up blood
  • Decreased fetal movement (once the baby starts to move regularly)
  • Having one or more contractions every 10 minutes within the 37th week with or without pelvic pressure, watery vaginal discharge and a constant dull back pain (might indicate premature labor)