Some women say they ‘just know’ they’ve conceived as soon as it’s happened, but for most of us it usually takes a missed period before we think we might be pregnant and rush off to do a test. However, there are some fairly common very early signs and symptoms of pregnancy that might give you a clue you’re expecting. Here’s what to look out for…
Top early pregnancy symptoms include:
Morning sickness can begin almost immediately after you have conceived (and it doesn’t always occur in the morning!).
Needing to wee a lot
One of the first effects of pregnancy hormonal changes is to speed up the flow of blood through your kidneys, so your bladder fills more quickly, more often. Then, as your pregnancy progresses, the amount of blood in your body increases by as much as 50%, so there’s even more fluid for your kidneys to process.
Darker and/or tender nipples
No one knows for sure, but it’s assumed that darker nipples is another effect of those hormones flooding your body, stimulating the cells that produce skin pigmentation. The area around your nipple may look bumpy, too. This is caused by the growth of tiny glands that will produce oil to protect your nipples when breastfeeding, and while they grow they may make your nipples sore.
Progesterone, one of the main hormones that support pregnancy, is well known to cause sleepiness. Added to that, your body is working hard to help your baby grow, taking up all your blood sugars and making your heart beat faster to pump the extra blood around your body. By the end of the first trimester (around week 12), you should start to feel much better.
A metallic taste in the mouth
The medical term for this is dysgeusia – a strange name for a strange condition! Your sense of both taste and smell may change and it’s thought this is caused by another hormone, oestrogen, but very little research has been done to find out why. If it bothers you, try getting rid of it by eating foods with sour flavours, such as pickles, citrus fruit and juices.
Although generally associated with later pregnancy, it’s not unusual to experience a dull ache in the early days, too. Hormones soften ligaments in your pelvis so it can expand to accommodate your growing baby – and this, coupled with weight gain, can make your back hurt. When pregnant, you’re more susceptible to urinary tract infection, and this can also cause lower back pain.
About six to 12 days after conception, when the embryo implants itself in the uterine wall, you might experience pinky-brown spotting and cramping, but this will soon pass.
Feeling dizzy or faint
Blood pressure usually drops in the first 16-20 weeks of pregnancy, so you may feel light-headed or dizzy. Early in pregnancy, a feeling of faintness may also be triggered by low blood sugar.
Cravings or a dislike of certain foods can start as soon as you’ve conceived. Again, it’s generally all down to your hormones.
Of course, the best way to confirm that you’re going to be a mum is to do a pregnancy test. You can make an appointment with your GP for one or, if you want to know right now – and who wouldn’t? – just pop down to your local Tesco or Tesco Pharmacy for a kit.
Basic pregnancy tests involve weeing on a stick to check if the HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) hormone is present. If no change occurs or a ‘not pregnant’ sign appears, the test is negative. Sometimes, especially if you’re testing on the day your period’s due, you may just see a faint change – this could still indicate a positive result, so do another test in a few days to be sure.
If the test is negative but in your heart of hearts you still think you might be pregnant, you can always do another test a few days later, or ask your GP for a blood test so you’re certain.
What to do next if you have a positive pregnancy test
Congratulations! Make an appointment with your GP to confirm exactly how pregnant you are and find out your due date. The average pregnancy lasts 266 days from conception but as it can be difficult to know exactly when conception occurred, your due date is usually calculated from the first day of your last period.