The most common ways of finding out if you are expecting a baby or not are ultrasounds, a blood test, and pregnancy test kits. However, early on, before any of those methods could detect a viable pregnancy, you may feel the slight changes in your system as a symptom when expecting a baby.
Some people like to call that intuition a close relationship between the mother, body, and unborn child. There is, of course, a medically reviewed explanation to all those feelings even though your doctor or the home pregnancy test may not be able to detect them early enough.
So, when do pregnancy symptoms start? You see, the early signs of pregnancy stretch beyond a missed period. These are numerous symptoms that we will talk about in this article.
As a short overview, it could be that you feel fatigued, you are experiencing morning sickness, headaches, or smell sensitivity. We will review these early signs of pregnancy and many more that women report.
When Do the Early Signs of Pregnancy Start?
If you tested positive but are confused as to why you aren’t feeling any pregnancy symptoms just yet, the answer is, it is still too early. Your body is still catching up with all the hormone changes, and except for a slight implantation bleeding, you may not feel any other pregnancy symptom just yet.
The estimation of the conception period is another reason why pregnancy symptoms are delayed. Counting the weeks of the pregnancy doesn’t always seem logical, but it is the surest way to calculate the date of conception. The first week of pregnancy is based on the date of your last menstrual period. With that said, the last menstrual period is considered the first week of the pregnancy.
This is calculated as such, even though you may even not have been expecting a baby at the time. Based on this, the expected delivery date is calculated. Your ob-gyn will use the first day of your last period. Because of the way it is estimated, women don’t show any early pregnancy symptoms in the first few weeks, but those still count toward the 40-week pregnancy period.
To give you a better overview, we will list all the symptoms a woman feels during her pregnancy based on the current week.
- In the week one to four you may feel mild cramping or spotting
- By the fourth week, you lose your period.
- You will experience nausea, motion sickness, fatigue, tingling and sensitive breasts, frequent urination, bloating, mood swings, and temperature changes between weeks four and six.
- In the weeks wight to ten, you will feel extreme fatigue and heartburn, get high blood pressure, and a faster heartbeat.
- In the eleventh week, breast and nipple changes are possible, and you may notice acne appearing on your face and back. In this week, the weight gain becomes noticeable too.
- The twelfth week is accompanied by the much-desired pregnancy glow that people will start noticing in you.
Cramping and Spotting During Early Pregnancy
In the first four weeks, all changes in your body are happening on a cellular level. The fertilized egg creates a blastocyst. This is a fluid-filled group of cells that develop your baby’s organs.
Then, about ten to fourteen days after the conception, at nearly the four-week mark, the blastocyst will implant in the endometrium, lining the uterus. At this point, you will feel the cramping and bleeding, which may be mistaken for an early or a light period.
The implantation bleeding will change colors between pink, red, or brown. If it’s spotting, then it will be present only when wiping, unlike bleeding that will be shown on your pad or underwear.
In this period, the signs of pregnancy will only be mild to moderate pain, although some women report severe pain with cramping and spotting.
These early pregnancy symptoms in the implantation period will last up to three days and don’t require any treatment. As soon as you get a positive home pregnancy test, avoid smoking, eliminate unhealthy foods and any alcohol and illicit drugs.
Once the implantation period has passed, the system starts producing the hCG or the human chorionic gonadotropin. This is a pregnancy hormone that helps the system maintain the fetus and develop it. Also, it’s the hormone that communicates with your body to stop releasing mature eggs each month, preventing you from getting your period. The pregnancy hormone, in the beginning, causes PMS-like symptoms that you may not consider a sign of pregnancy at first.
However, women who have irregular periods will need to take a pregnancy test to ensure that their missed period is indeed a sign of pregnancy.
There are pregnancy tests that detect hCG on the first day of the missed period and those that can detect as early as six days before the expected period.
Raised Basal Body Temperature
During early pregnancy, you will experience a raised body temperature. During this time, you will need to stay in cool places, avoid overexposure to the sun and drink plenty of water. Exercising should be done cautiously too. Yoga will be the best movement for you at this period and light stretches. Weightlifting is off the limits unless done with very light dumbbells.
Fatigue is a pretty common sign during early pregnancy because the levels of the hormone progesterone are increased. This sign of pregnancy leaves you feeling sleepy and tired throughout the day.
Here are some tips that will help you get through this period as quickly as possible:
- Make sure you are getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep.
- To control this pregnancy symptom, keep your bedroom cool because your elevated body temperatures will need to be balanced so that you can sleep well.
Elevated Heart Rate
The elevated heart rate is another early sign of pregnancy women report. At this time, you might feel your heart beating faster. This happens during the eighth and tenth weeks, and you may even get palpitations and arrhythmias due to pregnancy hormones.
The main reason why this sign shows is that increased blood flow now starts flowing to the fetus. If you have a history of heart problems, your doctor should manage them with low dosages of drugs and supervise you regularly.
Tingling and aching sensations to your breasts will leave you with swollen and tender breasts until the seventh week. These breast changes will go away eventually once your system gets used to the hormones.
In the eleventh week, your breasts will change shape, grow a bit bigger, and the areola (the area around the nipple) may change to a darker color and grow larger.
Taking care of this:
- A woman should get comfortable, supportive maternity bras. Wear only cotton underwear and avoid bras with an underwire.
- Buy bra pads that will reduce the friction on your nipples and nipple pain.
Not all women get acne, but you may experience fluctuations in skin quality due to all the hormonal changes in your uterus. Manage acne with PHA acidic toners and serums and avoid oils and heavy creams.
Changes in mood during early pregnancy happen because of the rise of estrogen and progesterone levels. You will be more emotional and sensitive than usual. Practice meditation and be wary of these mood changes because they may lead to depression, irritability, and anxiety if uncontrolled.
Your system increases the amount of blood it pumps, and apart from the increased blood pressure, it will cause you to urinate more frequently. The kidneys will process more fluid than usual, which leads to more fluid in your bladder.
Tips for managing frequent urination:
- Drink a minimum of 2L of water a day. Staying hydrated is crucial as dehydration hurts the fetus.
- Plan your trips to the bathroom so that you stay comfortable. Otherwise, you may experience leaking too.
Bloating and Constipation
Because of the hormonal changes, a woman will feel bloated, just like when expecting her period. The digestive system is slowed down, too, so feeling blocked and constipated is not uncommon. Drink more water and eat more fibrous food to prevent this. Ripe fruit is your best friend at this point.
Morning Sickness, Vomiting, Nausea
During early pregnancy, morning sickness and nausea are expected. These symptoms will start after the fourth week and should resolve by the seventh week. Although it is called morning sickness, vomiting and nausea will occur during the day or night. In the second trimester, these symptoms disappear entirely.
Tips for managing nausea:
- Saltine crackers are great for relieving nausea and soak up the extra acids in your stomach. Eat a few in the morning and at night and during the day when you feel the need.
- Drink more water to boost your digestion.
- Contact your doctor if you cannot manage the situation on your own.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure and dizziness during the first trimester are standard. Your blood vessels are dilated, which may be the cause of dizziness and elevated body temperature.
To manage this symptom, you can:
- Do pregnancy-friendly exercises and light stretching.
- Track your blood pressure regularly
- Eat healthily and avoid junk food
- Drink enough water and snack regularly to help to prevent dizziness.
- Get the habit of standing up slowly when getting up.
You might feel food aversions and elevated smell sensitivity. There is little scientifically supported reason for this, but women often report it as a symptom in the first trimester.
You may develop a strong distaste for certain foods that you loved eating before.
When women wonder, “when do pregnancy symptoms start?” they think weight gain is the first symptom they see. However, weight gain starts to be more noticeable in the second trimester. Women report gaining only two to four pounds in the first couple of months. At first, your calorie requirements won’t change much, but they will increase as pregnancy progresses.
Based on data, pregnancy weight spreads out between:
- The breasts gain about one to three pounds
- The uterus about two points
- The placenta one and a half pounds
- The amniotic fluid increases by about two pounds
- The blood and the fluid volume in general increase about five to seven pounds
- The fat tissue increases by six to eight pounds.
If you start gaining more initially and feel it’s uncontrolled, contact your health care provider to assess your health and pregnancy symptoms.
Heartburn and Stomach Pain
When expecting a baby, a mixture of hormones is released into the blood. This causes your muscles to relax. One of those muscles is the valve – the muscle set between your stomach and esophagus. This muscle relaxes and doesn’t hold the stomach acid as it should, so the acid leaks up, causing heartburn. Nausea and stomach pain are the most prevalent pregnancy symptoms with heartburn.
Tips for handling these symptoms of pregnancy:
- Although every woman is different, many women feel nausea and heartburn relief when eating five to six small meals a day.
- After eating, sit upright for at least an hour. This will allow your food to digest better, and gravity does its own thing so that acid reflux will be less.
- Take care of your stomach. Don’t use antacids or sodium bicarbonate for as long as you can handle it because that will lower the acidity, which in turn will cause indigestion. There’s a reason why our stomach acid is 1,5 to 3 pH. It’s to cook or digest the food further and kill all bacteria. This way, your system can easily absorb the food with all its nutrients.
After the 11th week, people will start noticing that beautiful “pregnancy glow” on you. This occurs because of the increased blood volume and higher hormone levels. These boost your circulation and push more blood through your vessels. The entire body works overtime and so do the oil glands on your face. For this, your skin gets a flushed, glossy appearance.
Unfortunately, part of the pregnancy symptoms in this period is acne too. Your skin’s oil glands are overactive, so you will need some astringent toners to keep it balanced.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Reduce in the Second Trimester
All these symptoms will diminish or at least dwindle as the first trimester passes. When the second trimester comes, you will see that the pregnancy is much more manageable. If your symptoms still interfere with your daily life, consult with your doctor. They can advise or prescribe something that will give you relief and comfort from the symptoms of pregnancy.
Why You Feel Pregnant If You’re Not?
The symptoms that occur in the early weeks of pregnancy can often resemble those of the early days before and during menstruation. Some signs that can be mistaken for pregnancy or, on the other hand for menstruation are:
- Mood swings
- Changes in appetite
- Breast tenderness
- Feeling heavy in the abdomen
When Do Pregnancy Symptoms Start – Final Say
The fluctuation of hormones in your system can cause many pregnancy symptoms to show even before a home pregnancy test detects a pregnancy.
However, women often confuse the signs of pregnancy with PMS symptoms as both have a similar effect in the uterus early on.
The premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms can often be very similar to early pregnancy signs for some women. However, other conditions like illness, stress, or even not enough sleep or too much exercise can cause some of these, so testing and being in tune with yourself is crucial in detecting the symptoms.
If you suspect that the symptoms aren’t due to pregnancy and you are on birth control, we advise visiting your doctor and running some tests to get to the bottom of the issue.
Also, both the premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and the early pregnancy symptoms can be relieved by taking care of your physical and mental health. Eating healthy foods, not smoking, and limiting alcohol will significantly improve your health and fitness in the long run. Such care will equip your body to handle better any changes that happen when expecting a baby.