Early pregnancy symptoms are often one of the first indications of pregnancy. However, unless a woman is trying to become pregnant and watching closely for physical changes in the body, a missed menstrual period may be the first clear indication of pregnancy. Nonetheless, some women may notice physical changes in the body before missing their next menstrual period. These early signs of pregnancy are especially important for women who have irregular menstrual cycles.
Just a few days after the fetus is conceived, it implants in the uterus. This is when the first physical signs of pregnancy start. Women may feel cramping and experience spotting at this early stage. If spotting occurs, it may not show until one to two weeks after the fertilized egg is implanted. Spotting is called implantation bleeding.
Around the same time implantation bleeding occurs, women may feel changes in their breasts, including swelling, tenderness and tingling. Some women report breasts feeling heavier or full.
One of the more common physical changes women often feel in early pregnancy is fatigue. When conception occurs, progesterone levels rise. Progesterone can cause early pregnancy fatigue.
Estrogen levels also rise in early pregnancy. Estrogen can cause the stomach to empty more slowly, causing nausea and loss of appetite. Nausea during pregnancy is often referred to as morning sickness. The term morning sickness is not completely accurate. Morning sickness can occur at any time of the day, not just in the morning hours.
Reduced blood sugar and blood pressure can lead to dizziness and fainting. Some women experience these feelings and go to the doctor only to discover they are pregnant.
Changes occur in the female body as soon as conception occurs, but these changes cause no physical changes until about one week after pregnancy. From that point until the end of gestation, physical changes can be felt throughout the pregnancy.
- 7 to 14 days after conception: Breasts may feel swollen, sore, tingly and heavy.
- 7 to 14 days after conception: Fatigue due to increased progesterone, low blood sugar and low blood pressure.
- 7 to 14 days after conception: Increased estrogen and slowed gastric emptying may lead to nausea known as morning sickness.
The time frame in which women report feeling the first signs of pregnancy varies widely as different bodies change at different ratea. Typically, the first signs of pregnancy are not recognized as being associated with pregnancy until after a positive pregnancy test or a missed menstrual cycle.