Pregnancy is one of the most amazing parts of life, but it can also be pretty scary, especially if you’re in your first few months and you don’t have a lot of experience with the whole process. One thing that adds to the fear factor of being pregnant is that there are so many symptoms you could be experiencing at any time – and they could mean anything from discomfort to potential pregnancy complications. In order to help you determine what’s normal when it comes to classic signs and symptoms of pregnancy, we’ve outlined the most common possibilities below.
Commonly known as morning sickness, nausea is more likely to occur at any time of day and may worsen in late-term pregnancies. If it’s so bad that you’re unable to keep down food or liquids, visit your doctor right away. It could be a sign of pre-eclampsia—an indication that your body is working too hard.
One of your first indications that you’re pregnant is tenderness in your breasts. Breast tenderness usually begins a few days after conception, typically when you are about six to eight weeks along. Sore breasts can be particularly uncomfortable during sex or when wearing a bra that fits too tightly. If you notice soreness on one side, it may indicate an ovarian cyst or pelvic inflammatory disease, so contact your doctor for further evaluation if these symptoms occur.
If you’re tired all day—not just in the morning, but also late in the afternoon—you could be pregnant. Your body is working extra hard to nourish a baby that is growing faster than any human ever has before, which takes a toll on your energy levels. Many women also feel more lethargic when they are pregnant because their blood volume increases by up to 50% throughout their pregnancies. All of these changes can leave you exhausted at times.
An early sign of pregnancy is a pain or cramping in your lower belly, which may begin as early as three to four weeks into conception. Also known as implantation bleeding, these cramps are caused by tissue from your growing embryo attaching to and breaking through your uterine lining. They may be accompanied by spotting or light bleeding, but don’t worry—it doesn’t mean you’re miscarrying.
Among many uncomfortable changes pregnant women experience, constipation is one of them. It could be caused by a hormonal change in your body that relaxes muscles in your bowels, making them less effective. Constipation can result from eating lots of meat and cheese, which are low in fiber. Drinking enough water will help you prevent constipation.
As early as two weeks after conception, many women notice that their breasts become swollen or tender. This is caused by high levels of estrogen in your body. Over time, you may even see a darkening in your areola—the circular area around your nipple. This darker coloration is due to increased blood flow to your breasts, which also causes them to increase in size.
According to a 2017 study, over half of all pregnant women experience diarrhea in their first trimester. Symptoms include loose stools, frequent stools, or watery stools. If you’re experiencing diarrhea early on in your pregnancy, it could be because your body is responding to changes in hormone levels. If you suspect that you’re pregnant, take a home test before going to see your doctor; some tests can pick up hCG as early as four days after conception.