Missing your period and feeling a little unwell are common early signs of pregnancy – but there are many other early pregnancy symptoms that may indicate you are pregnant. Some people say they feel certain they’re pregnant at the moment of conception, thinking they can already feel the very first signs of pregnancy. While for others it may take a positive pregnancy test – or two – to convince them.
If you think you might be pregnant or get a positive pregnancy test, make an appointment with your doctor to confirm your pregnancy and run more tests as needed.
What are the early signs of pregnancy?
Early changes in your breasts
Your breasts can start changing soon after conception, becoming fuller, heavier and more sensitive, thanks to changing hormones. You may also notice your nipples darkening.
Tips: If your nipples are tender, try a breast pad to reduce friction. For tender or swollen breasts, it may be time to buy a maternity bra with no underwire, that gives you room to grow!
Nausea and vomiting
Morning sickness (and not just in the morning!) can kick in any time after conception. There can be varying degrees of morning sickness - some lucky women don’t experience any at all! If you have severe nausea and can’t keep anything down, contact your doctor.
Tips: Eat small amounts regularly, try to keep your meals and snacks to healthy choices. Avoid greasy and spicy foods which may aggravate your stomach, and you may want to stay out of the kitchen if food smells set you off.
Tiredness and fatigue
Although fatigue is common in the first weeks as your progesterone levels rise, tiredness often continues into your first trimester and may last throughout your pregnancy. Fatigue which continues into late pregnancy may also be a result of low iron levels or anaemia. Your doctor will monitor your levels throughout pregnancy and may recommend tablets or an infusion if required.
Tips: Take as much rest as possible. You may find that even sitting with your feet up gives you relief. Eat foods rich in iron throughout your pregnancy to help maintain adequate iron stores.
You may notice irritability caused by the drastic hormonal changes in your body.
Tips: Try to avoid stress, communicate your needs and pamper yourself.
Early in your pregnancy, you may notice you’re using the bathroom more frequently. Your body starts producing more blood which means your kidneys process extra fluid. This extra water ends up in your bladder and needs to go somewhere! During the later stages of your pregnancy the increasing size of your baby pressing on your bladder will also mean more frequent toilet trips.
Tips: Empty your bladder as frequently as required – it might help to always use the bathroom before you go to sleep at night!
Pregnant women often experience cravings or aversions for foods. Some women even develop strange cravings for non-food items like soil or paper. Speak to your healthcare professional if you have any ‘unusual’ food cravings, as it may indicate a nutrient deficiency.
Tips: Try to opt for healthy snacks and nutrient packed meals to meet your additional nutritional needs and give you the energy you need.
Heightened sense of smell and taste
Pregnancy hormones can affect your taste buds and sense of smell.
Tips: Try to keep to healthy snacks and meals, and variety may be the key.
There are a range of other symptoms women experience in the early stages of pregnancy, for example constipation, backache, itchy skin and leg cramps. However, these could all be indicative of other non-pregnancy conditions. See your doctor if in doubt about any symptoms you’re experiencing.
Other uncommon early symptoms of pregnancy
The list above is by no means exhaustive, and for an unlucky few, you may experience those listed above, and more! This may include heartburn or indigestion (normally experienced later in pregnancy); back pain; skin changes and itching; shortness of breath and even dizziness. For any unusual early symptoms of pregnancy that you are worried about, always chat to your doctor about it.
What to do if you suspect a pregnancy?
If you are experiencing one or more of the above early pregnancy symptoms, it may be time to either take a home pregnancy test or see your doctor. A home pregnancy test offers a convenient and private way of testing whether you are pregnant. Remember early pregnancy symptoms can be misleading and even if you get a positive pregnancy test, get the results confirmed by your doctor.
While you wait for your pregnancy to be confirmed, it’s safest to act like you are pregnant. There are a number of lifestyle changes you need to make such as stopping alcohol and smoking. As well as getting your diet in order, which will include avoiding some high-risk foods during pregnancy – read more here.
If your pregnancy test is negative, and you are looking to fall pregnant, talk to your doctor about your lifestyle to see if you need any modifications to help assist you along the way. It’s not always easy to get pregnant, here are 5 tips that could help, as well as trying our Ovulation calculator to help you determine the best time to conceive.
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-signs-and-symptoms (accessed 1 September 2023)
https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/early-signs-of-pregnancy (accessed 1 September 2023)