Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

What Is Pregnancy Planning?

Planning for pregnancy typically involves discussions with a woman's partner and her health-care team, and includes discussions about nutrition and vitamins, exercise, genetic counseling, weight gain, and the need to avoid certain medications and alcohol. However, because some women experience light bleeding known as implantation bleeding around the time of the expected menstrual period, or because of irregular menstrual cycles, some women may not realize they are pregnant until specific symptoms of pregnancy start to develop. By this time, the woman may have unknowingly exposed herself to substances that may be harmful for the pregnancy.

Women who choose to begin pregnancy planning before conception can take steps to ensure that potentially harmful exposures are avoided.

Quick GuideStages of Pregnancy: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Trimester Images

Stages of Pregnancy: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Trimester Images

Early pregnancy symptoms and signs facts

  • Not all women experience the same symptoms when pregnant, and symptoms vary in severity.
  • A woman will not necessarily experience the same symptoms in the same way in subsequent pregnancies as with her first pregnancy.
  • Certain symptoms, like absence of menstruation and weight gain, are common to all pregnancies.
  • Other possible symptoms and signs of early pregnancy include
    • mood changes,
    • increased urination,
    • headaches,
    • low backache,
    • breast tenderness,
    • darkened areolas,
    • fatigue,
    • nausea, and
    • implantation bleeding.
  • Symptoms of late pregnancy can include
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions are non-labor contractions of the uterus that occur in late pregnancy. Unlike true labor, these contractions do not increase in intensity and are irregular.
  • Many medications are safe for pregnant women.
  • Home remedies and self-care strategies can bring relief for many pregnancy symptoms.
  • Sometimes, symptoms of PMS, including mood changes, fatigue, and breast tenderness, may be mistaken for symptoms of early pregnancy.

How soon do early pregnancy symptoms start?

Some women may experience symptoms within the first weeks of pregnancy in the first trimester, while others may develop symptoms later on in the pregnancy. Symptoms of early pregnancy can also be similar to symptoms experienced prior to the menstrual period, so a woman may not recognize the symptoms as related to pregnancy.

Are pregnancy symptoms the same for every woman?

Symptoms of pregnancy can vary among different women. They may vary in quality or severity, and even the same woman may not experience the same symptoms in every pregnancy. Pregnancy symptoms may also be noticed or begin at different points in the pregnancy.

This article describes the most common symptoms of pregnancy in its early and later stages.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/15/2016

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