The earlier you know you’re pregnant, the sooner you can start making healthy lifestyle changes for you and your baby. Many women start noticing tell-tale symptoms just a couple of weeks after conception, even before missing their first period. Female intuition? Perhaps, but all of these early indicators are your body reacting to shifting hormone levels as it prepares for a pregnancy ahead.
Of course, at the earliest inkling that you might be expecting, a pregnancy test, usually followed up with a blood test at your doctor’s office are both necessary to be absolutely certain. Before that, though, here’s a rundown of some of the subtle – and not so subtle – clues every woman should be aware of.
Tender or Swollen Breasts
“With my first, we were so desperate to have a baby that I spent a lot of time focusing on dates and spending an absolute fortune on pregnancy tests”, Emily, aged 34 and from London explains. “But with number two, it was definitely more the small changes that I noticed… I just knew!”
Now in the second trimester of her pregnancy, Emily recalls those first, early signs. “My boobs were the first giveaway! Once my daughter stopped breastfeeding, they naturally went back to their pre-pregnancy size. But as soon as I fell pregnant again, they felt fuller, more swollen and even a bit achy.”
Breasts can feel sore, heavy or swollen as early as just a couple of weeks into your pregnancy, and for many women is an early sign of impending motherhood. As with all of these changes, it’s caused by increased levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone causing blood to rush to the breasts, making them more sensitive. Confusingly, sore breasts can also be a sign of pre-menstruation, but if you’re actively trying for a baby, it could well be that you’re experiencing the first symptoms of pregnancy…
Heightened Sensitivity to Smells and Tastes
Us women are blessed with a more heightened sense of smell than men, and never more so than around the time of ovulation. Perhaps you’ve noticed that ahead of your period, certain odors – both pleasant and unpleasant – seem sharper? It’s thought we have estrogen to thank for that, and during the early stages of pregnancy, it can wreak havoc on the senses. Unfortunately, these changes can also cause gut-wrenching nausea, or morning sickness, with seemingly innocuous substances triggering queasiness. The catalysts vary, but common ones include coffee, cigarette smoke, and even perfume. You can find out more about morning sickness and how to deal with it here.
That extends to aversions to or cravings for certain types of food – again, hormones are responsible, and no, they don’t always make sense! Whilst many women find they suddenly can’t stomach the thought of alcohol or caffeine, other pregnancy no-nos may well cause minor food obsessions during these first few weeks. There might be some truth to the notion that your body is craving what it needs, but if that hankering is for mountains of chocolate and potato chips, try to exercise some restraint and consider whether your hunger is more psychological than physical.
Tiredness, Fatigue and Mood
Yet another early sign of pregnancy so easily confused with any number of non-related conditions is tiredness and fatigue. This one’s a no-brainer – your body’s busy making a whole new life, and in these first few weeks, developing an entirely new organ: the placenta. More specifically, the tiredness is a result of an overload of natural hormone, progesterone that can also cause mood swings, another early symptom of impending motherhood:
“I remember feeling tired, and my mood definitely changed – I was a lot more grumpy all of a sudden, but also a lot more emotional. I’d cry at the smallest things!”
Emily’s experiences may not reflect those of all women, but it’s safe to say a spring in the step and positive outlook don’t necessarily go hand in hand with the wider joys of pregnancy, particularly in those early days. Once again, the culprit is soaring levels of progesterone causing a chemical imbalance in the brain. This can range from mild moodiness through to out-right depression – the thing to remember here is that these feelings are temporary, and help is always at hand.
Time to Test?
Of course, all of these early signs and symptoms can be confused for any number of conditions, not least imminent menstruation. If you’re experiencing several at the same time, though, and pregnancy is a possibility, set your mind at ease and pick up a pregnancy test. Female intuition is one thing, but it’s no substitute for certainty!
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.