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Early Pregnancy Symptoms & Signs

  • Early Pregnancy Symptoms: What are the pregnancy symptoms from day 1?

Do you think you have pregnancy signs and symptoms and you could be pregnant? Then take a pregnancy test to find out.  

The process of implantation

The egg is fertilized by the sperm inside the fallopian tube, usually within 12 hours after ovulation. The embryo then travels down towards the uterus, increasing in size and cells along the way. Right after fertilization, when there is only one cell, it's called a "zygote", and as it divides it becomes first a "blastomere" until it reaches about 30 cells, and about 5 days later, shortly before implantation, it's called a "blastocyst". Only after implantation is the pregnancy hormone hCG excreted into the blood and symptoms can appear.

When do pregnancy symptoms appear?

Small amounts of hCG, the pregnancy hormone, enter the blood stream several days after implantation, about 8-10 days after ovulation and before a missed period. Therefore, most symptoms do not typically appear until the hCG has reached sufficient levels, about 1-2 weeks after you miss your period (3-4 weeks after ovulation, or 2-3 weeks after implantation). Though these may suggest that a woman is pregnant, a positive pregnancy test is needed to confirm a pregnancy.

How Many Women Have Typical Symptoms?

Not all women have typical pregnancy symptoms. In fact, only about 1 in 2 pregnant women have these symptoms, and there is nothing wrong if you are pregnant and have none of them. They are not the same for all women, and they are different from one pregnancy to the next,  and every woman is different as are her experiences of pregnancy. Typical symptoms are often not diagnosed because they may overlap with menstruation issues.

We list here some of the most common early symptoms of pregnancy but it is important to realize that many of these symptoms may be caused by other things besides being pregnant. So the fact that you notice some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you are pregnant. The only way to tell for sure that they are related to pregnancy is to do a pregnancy test.

Very early symptoms differ from one woman to the next and from one pregnancy to the next. Some women experience them within a week after ovulation, fertilization and conception. In other women, they may develop much later, well after a missed period and / or positive pregnancy test. Other women may never have any symptoms at all.

The most significant sign of a pregnancy is a late or missed menstrual period, but the only definitive diagnosis is a positive pregnancy test.

Vaginal spotting

When ovulation and fertilization have happened, the fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus where implantation can happen about 6-12 days after fertilization. At that time, the fertilized egg attaches itself to wall of the uterus in an event called 'implantation'. Implantation can cause one of the earliest signs of pregnancy: implantation spotting, bleeding, and sometimes cramping.

Cramping

The cramps in your lower abdomen may resemble menstrual cramps, and bleeding and spotting may initially be similar to a menstrual bleeding, so it's not unusual if some women mistake them for the start of their menstrual period.

Vaginal Discharge

Besides bleeding, a woman may notice white, milky discharge from her vagina. This discharge could be related to the pregnancy hormones which lead to thickening of the vagina's walls, and which starts almost immediately after conception and implantation. This vaginal discharge, which can continue throughout pregnancy, is typically harmless and doesn't require treatment. But if there is a bad smell related to the discharge or a burning and itching sensation, tell your doctor so they can check on whether you have a yeast or bacterial infection.

Breast Changes

In many women, changes of the breasts, either swelling or size changes and tenderness could occasionally be another very early sign and symptom of pregnancy.  Because of the changes, her breasts may become swollen, sore, or tingly a week or two later. 
Besides pregnancy, other issues could also cause breast changes. So if you experience these changes and you have a repeatedly negative pregnancy test, you may want to let your doctor know.

"All Day" Sickness

Morning sickness is probably the best known of the early pregnancy symptoms, but many people don't realize the term is inaccurate. Nausea may be more common in the mornings because stomach acids build up overnight. But most women who get morning sickness also feel nauseous at other times of day.

Sickening Scents

Even before the nausea kicked in some women develop "an extremely-heightened sense of smell." Scents were so over-powering, they avoided cooking for several weeks, relying instead on bland take-out.

Constipation

Here's one pregnancy symptom your mom may not have warned you about - you're likely to get constipated, especially in the late second and third trimesters. Constipation may result from a number of factors.

Exhaustion

Fatigue tends to be most common in the first trimester, but often occurs later in pregnancy as well. Carrying around all that extra weight can make you tire easily in the third trimester. In addition, you may have trouble sleeping if your growing belly makes it hard to get comfortable. We recommend that expectant moms with severe fatigue be evaluated for anemia and depression.

Bathroom Breaks

Frequent urination is another early pregnancy symptom most expectant moms know all too well. The culprit is often hormonal in the earlier stages. Later in the pregnancy, frequent bathroom breaks are often caused by an enlarged uterus (and the rapidly growing baby inside) putting pressure on the bladder.

Early Pregnancy Symptoms Timeline:

Pregnancy Symptoms
Timing of Pregnancy Symptom
Temperature drop (dip)
Implantation day
Implantation bleeding or spotting:(a slight staining of a pink or brown color)
8-10 days after ovulation
Thick White or Milky White Vaginal Discharge
8-14 days after ovulation/fertilization
Lower abdominal cramps / Implantation cramps / hot flashes
8-10 days after ovulation
A positive blood hCG pregnancy test
10 days after fertilization/ovulation
A positive urine home pregnancy test (HPT)
10-14 days after ovulation/fertilization
An elevated BBT
15+ days without a menstrual period
No period. A missed menstrual period
(amenorrhea)
Your period is supposed to come 14-16 days after ovulation
Nausea
2-4 weeks after ovulation
Nipple or breast tenderness
3-4 weeks after conception
Fatigue and tiredness
3-10 weeks after conception
Vomiting
3-10 weeks after conception
Food cravings
1-2 months after conception
Frequent urination
Usually after 1-2 months
Softening of cervix
6+ weeks after LMP
Constipation
Later
Lower-back pain
Later
Breast changes
After 14 weeks
Fetal heartbeat on sonogram
8-9 weeks after conception
Fetal movements
18-20+ weeks

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