Pregnancy Symptoms 2023: 15 Common Early Signs

Karla Tafra

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

pregnancy symptoms

Pregnancy may bring along some recognizable symptoms that make you take a pregnancy test. That being said, some women don’t experience the usually early pregnancy symptoms, while others experience only some of them. 

When pregnancy symptoms start can vary from one woman to another, and early signs of pregnancy might not even show up until the second trimester for some women. 

Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms

Classic signs:

  • Missed period
  • Morning sickness
  • Inexplicable fatigue
  • Tender and swollen breasts (sometimes with spider veins)
  • Increased urination
  • Smell sensitivity and food aversions
  • Temperature changes
  • Mood swings

Other signs:

  • Cramping and spotting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Breast and nipple changes
  • Food cravings
  • Metallic taste in your mouth
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • High blood pressure

Missed period

Explain each symptom in 2-3 paragraph

The most common pregnancy symptom is a missed period. It’s the most obvious[1] sign of pregnancy as it shows your body has stopped the shedding of your uterus lining, preventing the bleeding. Still, missing a period does not always mean[2] you’re pregnant. Irregular periods can occur due to stress, dieting, hormone replacement therapy, or overexercising.

Not every woman experiences a missed period. Some women continue to experience spotting for the first few months and mistake it for a period[3]. Some women experience early pregnancy symptoms before missed period.

Recommendations:

  • If you missed a period and you had unprotected sex in the last month, take a pregnancy test
  • Schedule a visit with your gynecologist for an ultrasound and a blood test

Morning sickness

Morning sickness usually occurs in the first trimester, but some women experience it all day long and even into the third trimester. Usually, it peaks by the end of the first trimester and slowly fades away, but it doesn’t always have to be the case. 

Some women experience only nausea, sometimes coupled with dizziness, while others struggle with vomiting as well. The reason behind this early sign of pregnancy is still unknown[4]. Some experts believe it could be due to low blood glucose levels or the rise in pregnancy hormones, but it’s known to be triggered and worsened by stress, motion sickness (sensitivity to motion), and specific foods.  

Recommendations: 

  • Ginger herbal[5] might help relieve nausea
  • Some women find acupuncture and acupressure helpful
  • Keep crackers, saltines, and other dry carbohydrates near your bed and eat them as soon as you wake up
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Vitamin B6[6]
  • Over-the-counter drugs like Unisom

Inexplicable fatigue

One of the early pregnancy symptoms is extreme tiredness and fatigue that makes it hard for you to perform your usual daily activities. This is due to high levels of progesterone as well as an increased blood volume which makes you feel sleepy[7]

The fatigue is usually the worst in the first trimester and goes away in the second, but in some cases, it comes back in the third trimester. However, some women don’t experience overwhelming fatigue at all. 

Recommendations: 

  • Get as much sleep as your body needs
  • Take naps
  • Stay hydrated
  • Change your sleep posture or get pregnancy pillows for support

Tender and swollen breasts

The hormonal changes you’re going through often cause your breasts to become really tender and swollen. This usually fades away after your body starts getting adjusted to the new hormonal profile, but some women tend to experience this symptom for weeks. Additionally, some women may notice spider veins on their breasts. These are a sign of an increased blood flow[8] that exists to carry nutrients to the baby efficiently. 

Recommendations: 

  • Switch up your tight bras for comfortable fabrics and fits
  • Buy comfortable bras you can “grow into”

Increased urination

Another common symptom of pregnancy is frequent trips to the bathroom. Since your body produces more blood, your kidneys increase the amount of liquid to process, filling up your bladder. 

Recommendations: 

  • Stay hydrated
  • Take electrolytes if needed
  • Plan out when and how you’ll be able to go to the bathroom ahead of time (if possible)

Smell sensitivity and food aversions

A common early pregnancy sign is an increased sensitivity to smells as well as an aversion to certain foods you used to enjoy. There’s little scientific evidence behind it, but many women report triggers and changes in scents and taste, especially those they used to love. 

During the first and sometimes even third trimester, your sense of smell becomes heightened[9] and can therefore trigger nausea and vomiting. On the other hand, some women experience no aversions or changes in smell. 

Recommendations: 

  • Avoid scents and foods that trigger nausea
  • Use the microwave more to avoid the smells of cooked food
  • Use saline nose sprays to keep your membranes moist
  • Surround yourself with scents of mint, lemon, and cinnamon in a diffuser, essential oil, or air spray

Changes in body temperature

Another common sign of pregnancy is an increased body temperature. Your basal body temperature has to be higher than usual[10], and it has to be consistent. Otherwise, the reason for the increase in temperature might be heat, exercise, or illness.

The reason for a higher body temperature is an elevated level of progesterone, whose job is to prevent the shedding of your uterus lining and aid in the implantation of the fertilized egg. 

Recommendations: 

  • Keep your bedroom cool at night so that you don’t sweat too much
  • Get a blood draw to rule out any potential infections

Mood swings

Mood swings are a common early pregnancy symptom. They’re caused by an increase in pregnancy hormones, estrogen, and progesterone and they can range from mild to severe. You can experience feelings of irritability and euphoria but also anxiety and depression.

Recommendations: 

  • Once you become aware of your mood swings, try to do your best to control them; use mindfulness techniques such as progressive relaxation or meditation

Other Early Pregnancy Signs

Cramping and spotting 

One-third of women may still experience cramping and light bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy, usually mistaking it for a period. This is also known as implantation bleeding, and it typically occurs[11] 10-14 days after conception.

Recommendations: 

  • See your gynecologist so they can rule out any potential issues
  • If you think you might be experiencing implantation bleeding, take a home pregnancy test and see your doctor

Heart palpitations

Your body is producing more blood and increasing its blood flow which can result in heart palpitations that show up as fluttering, irregular heartbeats, and pounding. They are harmless[12] and very common, usually going away after delivery. 

Recommendations:

  • Heart palpitations can be scary, so see your doctor if you feel like they’re happening too often
  • If you have a history of arrhythmia or any other heart problem, definitely get checked out

Nipple changes

During pregnancy, your breasts will become tender and swollen, but the hormones may also cause changes in your nipples. The areolas around your nipples may become darker and larger[13], and they might even stick out more than usual. This is all due to hormonal changes and your body preparing to create milk. 

Recommendations:

  • If your nipples feel too sore or are painful, see your doctor; using warm moist heat may offer some relief
  • Relieve tenderness and pain by wearing a comfortable bra and avoid any tight compression
  • Get nipple covers to lower the chances of chafing

Food cravings

Some women may start experiencing food cravings pretty early on. Hormonal changes drive this, and it doesn’t have to happen to every woman. 

Metallic taste in your mouth

On some occasions, women report getting a metallic taste in their mouths in the early pregnancy stages. It’s caused by a surge of estrogen and progesterone, changing your taste buds, and is known as dysgeusia[14]

Recommendations:

  • Eat tart and acidic foods
  • Mix water and salt or baking soda and gargle for 30 seconds in your mouth 

Headaches and dizziness

Very common in early pregnancy; headaches and dizziness occur due to hormonal changes and increased blood volume. 

Recommendations:

  • Track your blood pressure regularly
  • Have a snack handy in case your blood sugar drops
  • Stand up slowly from chairs and beds

High blood pressure

With the increased blood volume, your blood pressure can elevate. This can, in turn, cause dizziness and headaches, so make sure to check your blood pressure regularly. 

When Do Pregnancy Symptoms Start?

In most cases, pregnancy symptoms can start as early as a few days[15] after conception. Early pregnancy symptoms before a missed period include tender and swollen breasts, nausea, and sensitivity to smell. 

Are You Really Pregnant?

Even though these are all listed as early pregnancy symptoms, they don’t have to be, and you might not be pregnant. The only way to know for sure is to take a home pregnancy test and wait to see if you’ll get two lines (or a plus sign) and go visit your gynecologist, who will perform a blood test and do an ultrasound. 

Conclusion

Some pregnancy symptoms are very common, and others might not. Even though not every woman experiences them, they are all caused by hormonal changes your body is going through to prepare for the baby. Getting a positive pregnancy test is usually a confirmation, but it’s always best to see your doctor and get a positive ultrasound and a blood test to ensure you’re really pregnant.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How early do pregnancy symptoms start?

In most cases, as early as a few days after conception. Early pregnancy symptoms before a missed period include tender and swollen breasts, nausea, and sensitivity to smell.

Do all women get early symptoms of pregnancy?

No, some women don’t get any early symptoms of pregnancy.

When should I take a pregnancy test?

Usually, women take a pregnancy test after a missed period, but if you have been trying to conceive or other symptoms start presenting themselves intensely, you can try as soon as 21 days after the unprotected intercourse has occurred. 


+ 15 sources

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Karla Tafra

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Karla is a published author, speaker, certified nutritionist, and yoga teacher, and she's passionate when writing about nutrition, health, fitness, and overall wellness topics. Her work has been featured on popular sites like Healthline, Psychology.com, Well and Good, Women's Health, Mindbodygreen, Medium, Yoga Journal, Lifesavvy, and Bodybuilding.com. In addition to writing about these topics, she also teaches yoga classes, offers nutrition coaching, organizes wellness seminars and workshops, creates content for various brands & provides copywriting services to companies.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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