When you're trying to get pregnant, you're especially attuned to your body's cues. Even before you're late for your next period or can use a home pregnancy test, early symptoms may give you clues that you've conceived.
by Christina DiMartino
While the proof is in the pregnancy test, many women suspect they may be pregnant in the first few weeks after conception, days before their next ovulation cycle or period is expected. When you're trying to conceive a child, the anticipation of parenting makes you especially attuned to your body's cues.
The Mayo Clinic offers a list of pregnancy symptoms that can offer early clues:
- Tender, swollen breasts as soon as two weeks after conception.
- Fatigue sets in as progesterone levels soar. In high enough doses, progesterone can even put you to sleep.
- Slight vaginal bleeding, known as implantation bleeding, can occur as the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of your uterus.
- Morning sickness with or without vomiting can strike at any time of the day or night, and as early as two weeks after conception.
- Food aversions or cravings, such as not wanting your normal cup of coffee in the morning. Like most pregnancy symptoms, food preferences can be chalked up to hormonal changes, especially in the first trimester.
- Headache got you down? Increased blood circulation early in pregnancy may trigger frequent, mild headaches.
- Constipation is another early symptom of pregnancy, and is also due to an increase in progesterone as it causes food to pass through the intestines more slowly.
- An unusual level of emotional or weepy feelings and mood swings can also be blamed on hormonal changes early in pregnancy.
- Faintness and dizziness may occur as your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure drops. Faintness also may be triggered by low blood sugar.
- Raised basal body temperature—your oral temperature when you first wake up in the morning—is also a clue. This temperature increases slightly soon after ovulation and remains at that level until your next period. If you've been charting your basal body temperature to determine when you ovulate, its continued elevation for more than two weeks may mean that you're pregnant.
Unfortunately, these symptoms aren't unique to pregnancy. Some can indicate that you're getting sick or that your period is about to start. Likewise, you can be pregnant without experiencing any of these symptoms.
The dreaded morning sickness
Chats between newly pregnant moms almost always include the topic of morning sickness. It's one of the most common but also most dreaded side-effects of pregnancy.
Not everyone has it, but most pregnant women report at least some nausea. According to MedLine Plus, the online health information service provided by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about a third of pregnant women experience vomiting.
Morning sickness usually begins during the first month of pregnancy and continues until the 14th to 16th week, but some experience it throughout their entire pregnancy. Having morning sickness during one pregnancy does not predict you will have it in a future pregnancy, and it does not hurt the baby unless it causes you to lose weight.
NIH suggests that women suffering with morning sickness try to maintain a positive attitude, remembering that it usually stops after the first trimester.
The cause of morning sickness is unknown. Like so many other early symptoms of pregnancy, it may be related to hormonal changes.
Emotional stress, traveling, or some foods can make the problem worse. You can also try to reduce nausea with a few tips from NIH:
- Eat a few soda crackers or dry toast upon waking up, even before you get out of bed in the morning.
- Eat a small snack at bedtime and when getting up to go to the bathroom during the night.
- Avoid large meals. Snack as often as every one to two hours, and drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat foods high in protein and complex carbohydrates, such as peanut butter on apple slices, celery, nuts, cheese, crackers, and dairy products. But avoid foods high in fat and salt but low in nutrition. Foods that are high in Vitamin B6, such as whole grains, peas and beans, can also be helpful.
- Ginger products, such as tea, candy and soda, are also reported to help reduce nausea.
- Take your prenatal vitamins before going to bed at night.
- Try to stay in well-ventilated areas to reduce the chance of inhaling odors or fumes, including cigarette smoke.
- Acupressure wrist bands and even acupressure treatments may help.
- If any of your morning sickness or nausea symptoms become severe, it's time to call your doctor.
Christina DiMartino has been a freelance and assignment writer since 1985. She is a researcher, interviewer, writer, editor, and manuscript collaborator with a repertoire of clients from around the world.