What are the Most Common Early Pregnancy Symptoms?

Vicki Hogue-Davies

Early symptoms of pregnancy vary between women and even can vary between pregnancies for the same woman. For some women, symptoms can show up within a few days of conception, and for others it might take weeks for symptoms to appear. Some of the most common early pregnancy symptoms are missed menstrual periods, fatigue, nausea and breast tenderness. Other early pregnancy symptoms can include bleeding, more frequent urination, changes in mood and food cravings. For sexually active women who show early pregnancy symptoms, it is important to take a pregnancy test, because these symptoms also can be caused by other things.

Lower back pain can be an early sign of pregnancy.
Lower back pain can be an early sign of pregnancy.

Missing a period is the most common of the early pregnancy symptoms that women notice. Sometimes the period is delayed, or blood flow is lighter rather than completely missing. Other reasons that a period might be missed are major body weight fluctuations, hormonal changes, stress and the use of birth control pills.

Extreme fatigue may be an early sign of pregnacy.
Extreme fatigue may be an early sign of pregnacy.

Being unusually tired is another common pregnancy symptom. Fatigue often is felt within the first week following conception. Other causes for fatigue can include depression, stress and physical illnesses such as colds or the flu.

Food cravings can be an early symptom of pregnancy.
Food cravings can be an early symptom of pregnancy.

Nausea and vomiting, called "morning sickness" in pregnant women, might first occur within two weeks to two months of conception. It can last throughout a pregnancy, but some lucky women never experience morning sickness at all. Other common causes of nausea that might be mistaken for morning sickness can include food poisoning, stomach flu and other ailments.

For some women, it takes weeks before they experience any symptoms of pregnancy.
For some women, it takes weeks before they experience any symptoms of pregnancy.

Breast tenderness is felt early on by some pregnant women. It often starts within a week of conception, and the breasts might appear swollen and feel uncomfortable or sore when touched. Other things that can cause breast tenderness include birth control pills and upcoming menstruation.

Food cravings, due to hormones, are often an early sign of pregnancy.
Food cravings, due to hormones, are often an early sign of pregnancy.

One of the earliest pregnancy symptoms is called implantation bleeding, which occurs when the embryo attaches to the uterus. It sometimes can cause blood spotting and cramping. There are other things that can cause the same symptoms, including intercourse, the menstrual period and infection or disease.

Morning sickness is often experienced in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Morning sickness is often experienced in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Frequent urination also is a common sign of early pregnancy and often starts about six weeks following conception. Early frequent urination is attributed to the increased blood in the body during pregnancy and the extra fluid processed by the kidneys. Later in pregnancy, frequent urination also is caused by the baby putting pressure on the bladder. Other non-pregnancy causes of increased urination, besides more liquid intake, can include urinary tract infection, diuretic use and illnesses such as diabetes.

Breast tenderness is felt early by some pregnant women.
Breast tenderness is felt early by some pregnant women.

Cravings for certain foods also can be an early sign of pregnancy. The craving doesn't necessarily have to be for a strange combination of foods, such as the stereotypical ice cream and pickles. It can include strong cravings for a variety of foods, depending upon the woman. Other reasons for food cravings can include nutrient deficiencies, depression and upcoming menstruation. Still other early pregnancy symptoms can include lower back pain, sensitivity to smells and changes in the physical appearance of the breast, such as darkening areolas.

Nasal congestion is typically more severe during early pregnancy.
Nasal congestion is typically more severe during early pregnancy.
Sudden nausea might be an early sign of pregnancy.
Sudden nausea might be an early sign of pregnancy.

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