You're ready to have a baby! You've started taking your prenatal vitamins, you've quit birth control, and you're hitting the sheets with your hubby at every chance you get. Oh, but there is so much more than that, isn't there? You're anxious to find out if there are early signs of pregnancy before a missed period that might tip you off that you're officially eating for two.
When you're trying to have a baby, the two weeks that pass between ovulation and a missed period are the loooongest two weeks of your life. Officially. You sit around, you wait, you wonder, and you google every possible symptom that you might be feeling to see if you can find a clue to whether or not you're pregnant. Fortunately for you, there are early pregnancy symptoms before a missed period that might clue you in before you can take a test.
Although a missed period can be the most telling sign of pregnancy, some of us just can't help ourselves when it comes to finding out a little sooner. Trust me, if I could know the moment I conceived and then again the moment the embryo implanted into my uterus, I would do all-the-things to find out how.
How Can You Tell If You're Pregnant?
Are you wondering if all of the work you've been doing to track your ovulation and hit the sheets at the right time has done the job? Are you dying to know if you're pregnant before you've even missed a period? I've been there so many times! I know how it feels to want to know that you have life growing inside of you at the very earliest possible moment.
Every woman, every body, and every pregnancy is different. The early signs of pregnancy before a missed period can be subtle and might be difficult to distinguish. Luckily, there are many symptoms that can give you a clue to what's going on inside of your uterus before you're able to take a home pregnancy test.
Use this list of 26 early signs of pregnancy before your missed period to figure out if you should be modifying your diet and dreaming of baby names just yet.
Early Signs of Pregnancy Before a Missed Period
By the time you miss your period you are technically about 4 weeks pregnant already. But what does that really mean? It doesn't mean that you got pregnant 4 weeks ago, unfortunately. During the first two weeks of your 40 week gestation, you are actually not pregnant at all. We calculate the beginning of your pregnancy as the first day of your last period. Wild, I know, but that's the way it is. So, when you miss your period, typically you ovulated about two weeks ago and became officially pregnant somewhere around 10-12 days ago.
Amazing, right? And I'd bet that you want to know exactly when that happens, right? The truth is, you can know that you are pregnant before you've missed your period.
Although a pregnancy test is going to be your best indicator to whether your HCG levels are high enough to make an appointment with your OBGYN, there are other signs and symptoms of pregnancy before a missed period. If you are impatient, like me, pay attention to the early signs of pregnancy that you might be able to notice before you can take an accurate pregnancy test.
You probably will not be experiencing all of these symptoms at once. Before I knew I was pregnant, I only felt a handful of early pregnancy signs and symptoms. Once the first trimester is in full swing, there will be a whole other list of ailments that you might have to look forward to. But for now, if you have two or three of these early signs of pregnancy before you miss your period, you can take it as a possible sign of pregnancy!
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26 Early Signs You Might Be Pregnant
The early signs of pregnancy before a missed period can actually start to appear that very first week after conception. Although they might be there, they are easy to miss if you don't know what to look for. If you pay attention to your body during the week before your period is supposed to start, you just might get the “tell” that you need to give you the reassurance you're looking for.
Can you find out that you are pregnant even before you miss your period? You just might. If you're trying to get pregnant, these are the early signs of pregnancy to look for before you miss your period.
1. Implantation Bleeding
This just had to be number one for me. I get some gnarly implantation bleeding before each of my pregnancies. For two of my pregnancies I spotted for an entire week between implantation and my missed period. For my third pregnancy (the one I am currently in as I write this post), I spotted for 10 days.
If you google implantation bleeding, you'll find vague definitions that give you no reassurance what-so-ever. The range of normal is very broad when it comes to implantation bleeding as an early indicator of pregnancy before a missed period.
So what is implantation bleeding, really? Basically it is the blood that is expelled due to the damage the the egg does to the lining of the uterus as the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall. It will likely start about a week or so before your missed period. How long will it last? Well, if you have it at all, it can be a one time experience, a two-day ordeal, or an entire week of confusion that finally ends after you already know you're pregnant- like me. Either way, it should be significantly lighter than a period and either pink or brown blood. Bright red blood that requires anything more than a panty-liner may be indication of miscarriage or a period.
It isn't unusual to feel a mild form of period-like cramping as the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall. These cramps may even continue into early first trimester of pregnancy as the embryo burrows deeper into the uterine wall and the uterus starts to accommodate the changes that it is experiencing.
I'll admit that this symptom can be confusing since cramping is also a common PMS symptom. It may not be a clear sign of pregnancy, but it also is no reason to rule-out the possibility.
If you are experiencing mild cramping in early pregnancy, you shouldn't worry unless you are also having significant bleeding along side of it.
3. Elevated Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
This early sign of pregnancy before a missed period is only helpful in women that were already tracking their basal body temperatures prior to and during ovulation. What's nice is that if you have been tracking BBT correctly, this symptom of pregnancy is more accurate than others. If you used BBT to find out when you ovulated, you could absolutely use this method as a hint to pregnancy before you take a pregnancy test.
If you are pregnant, your basal body temperature will increase by about 0.4 -1 degree for more than two weeks after the decrease in body temperature prior to ovulation. Basically, you will see your basal body temperature increase after ovulation and stay elevated if you're pregnant. During pregnancy, the basal body temperature is elevated in order to get the body ready to harbor a growing life within it.
4. Cervical Mucus / Vaginal Discharge
If you've been trying to conceive, I would make the bet that you've either heard word about or google searched cervical mucus a number of times. Cervical mucus and vaginal discharge are important parts in trying to conceive and can be a definitive sign of ovulation as well as pregnancy.
If you did not get pregnant this month, your cervical mucus will usually completely dry up before your period is due. On the other hand, if you are pregnant, then your cervical mucus will likely increase before your missed period. An increase in cervical mucus can be a very early and very clear sign of pregnancy before your missed period.
During early pregnancy, your cervical mucus may become thick and creamy with the important job of protecting your pregnancy by keeping out infections. Start studying your toilet paper and you just might find out your pregnant before you can take a home pregnancy test!
5. Breast Changes
For many women, they know that there is a bun in the oven because their breasts are screaming “You're pregnant!” well before your positive pregnancy test. Your breasts might become tender, tingly, heavy, or even painful after conception.
Your breasts change frequently throughout your pregnancy to prepare for the big job they will have to complete very soon- milk production!
Fortunately, breast discomfort will decrease in the second trimester when your body has adapted more to your body's new “normal”. That's not to say that those discomforts won't return in late third trimester when they start to fill and prepare for breast-feeding.
6. Darkening Areolas
In early pregnancy your areola may darken and grow larger in diameter. This is one of the first changes that occur due to hormone changes that happen immediately after conception. Funny thing is, the areola isn't the only skin pigmentation changes that will happen throughout your pregnancy. Later on, you may notice that your skin pigment changes in many ways on your face and belly.
7. Extreme Fatigue
This is one of those things that I notice right away when I'm pregnant. When I am anticipating taking a pregnancy test in the next week or so, I try to take note about how much energy I'm lacking at the moment. Feeling exhausted is a common sign of early pregnancy because creating a human really can take a toll on your body! High levels of pregnancy hormones and an increase in blood volume will contribute to your fatigue and constant desire to sleep in early pregnancy.
Even for the women who don't get sick in their pregnancy, they are still likely feeling very tired. The good news is that the extreme fatigue that starts early in pregnancy will typically diminish by the second trimester when the placenta is fully formed and takes over a lot of the work that your body is going through in order to sustain a pregnancy.
Obvious much? Nausea and vomiting is the most famous symptom of early pregnancy. True morning sickness probably won't show up for a few weeks but you might feel some mild queasy-ness due to an rapid increase in pregnancy hormones before you even know you're pregnant.
9. Aversions & Sensitivity to Smells
Probably attributing to the nausea and vomiting that I mentioned a moment ago, you might start to experience sensitivity to the smell of even your absolute favorite food. Sometimes during early pregnancy, you'll find that the foods you enjoyed prior to getting pregnant, you can't even stand the thought of now. If this is happening to you, I would think that it is a tell tale sign that you've got a bun in you're oven!
10. Food Cravings
Some women report having unusual cravings in early pregnancy. Maybe it's due to your body working overtime trying to grow a person or it's the hormones. I don't know. All I know is that dreaming about specific foods at night as though you haven't eaten in days is not unusual during early pregnancy.
Although this early sign of pregnancy is SO not fair, it is extremely common. Abdominal bloating happens long before the baby bump arrives. It may be very similar to the bloat you might feel during your period but it will last longer.
Progesterone can slow digestion and trap gas inside the intestines causing you to look and feel bloated before you look and feel pregnant.
The same hormones that sustain pregnancy and slow down you're digestive system also causes constipation. The slow-moving contents within your intestines allows your body to absorb more water and results in harder stools in pregnancy.
You're probably getting the idea that it's all connected. Progesterone slows digestion which causes constipation which leads to trapped gas which then leads to…
Remember that trapped gas we just talked about? Well, unfortunately, this gas will lead to you starting to burp and fart like your husband. Lucky you! Don't worry, you haven't lost all control, you're just probably pregnant.
14. Frequent Urination
If you're suddenly waking up in the middle of the night to pee, you just might have started to notice one of the earliest signs of pregnancy that just so happens to also be one of the longest lasting. The frequent urge to pee starts very early in pregnancy and persists until that baby is no longer sitting on your bladder.
This happens for a few reasons. Once you conceive, your body starts to make more blood to increase your overall blood volume. That higher blood volume leads to more blood being filtered through the kidneys and therefore more urine being made. Not only that, but the uterus is growing and sitting directly over the bladder. Welcome to the beginning of waking up to pee and never having a quiet moment without your bladder or a baby screaming at you ever again 😉.
Hopefully, the third reason for your frequent urination in pregnancy is because you're drinking a lot more water. Right, mama?
15. Mood Swings
Similar to PMS, mood swings might show up before your missed period if you're pregnant. If you find yourself happy, sad, and angry all within a matter of a couple hours, you might want to consider that the cause might be a baby and not Aunt Flow.
Pregnancy can be an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish but the earliest stages might make you feel like you're going crazy. You aren't! It just might be the imbalance of pregnancy hormones enhancing your emotions and making you feel some extra moodiness.
Dizziness or lightheadedness in early pregnancy can be due to your blood vessels dilating and causing a decrease in your blood pressure. As your body tries to adjust to pregnancy in the very beginning, it may take longer to compensate for these changes and result in you feeling faint.
Another valid reason that you might have moments of dizziness during your pregnancy is that you are sharing your blood supply with your baby! Even though your blood volume increases in pregnancy, your body might have trouble sharing so much with your growing uterus at first.
As with dizziness, headaches can be caused by a decrease in your blood pressure or blood sugar in early pregnancy. An increase in pregnancy hormones, estrogen and progesterone, can cause lower blood sugar levels than you are used to leading to these unexpected headaches.
18. Aches and Pains
Back ache is certainly not unique to the first trimester but it definitely can start there. Your hormones can result in your ligaments and joints loosening up and stretching. This can cause aches and pains in your back and hips.
19. Funny Taste In Your Mouth
In very early pregnancy, some women report having a strange taste in their mouth at certain times of day. To some, this taste in their mouth is described as “metallic”. If you are experiencing this unusual taste in your mouth you may be in early pregnancy! Fortunately, this symptom only lasts a short time and resolves before your second trimester.
Although this isn't always an innocent symptom as it can be a sign of something more serious, this funny taste in your mouth can come from fluctuating hormone levels that your body is experiencing before you even know you're pregnant.
20. Excessive Thirst
Your body knows what it needs to nourish your pregnancy even before you know you are pregnant. Pregnant women require more water than they do before pregnancy for a few reasons. You might be feeling forever-thirsty because your blood volume has increased, is currently increasing, or is trying to keep up with your body's and your baby's needs.
Everything changes in pregnancy. This is something that you absolutely should acknowledge by drinking water throughout the day even in this early stage of pregnancy.
21. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath will mostly become noticeable in the third trimester but if you are hoping for a positive pregnancy test and you've been feeling that it has become increasingly difficult to keep your normal breathing pattern while talking, walking, or doing normal daily activities, then you just might be pregnant.
Feeling short of breath is common in pregnancy because the increased blood volume that your body has acquired leads to a higher oxygen requirement.
22. Hot Flashes
Similar to the mild hot flashes that you might experience when you're on your period, early pregnancy might also bring on hot flashes as well (but without the period!). Fluctuations in your body's hormones and your increasing metabolism can send a surge of heat through your body at times that might hint to you that you're a literal oven cooking up a brand new baby.
23. Skin Changes / Acne
What happened to pregnancy glow? For me, the glow doesn't start to show up until the second trimester. Early pregnancy symptoms always include extra breakouts on my skin. Like most early signs of pregnancy before a missed period, this is mostly due to the increase in pregnancy hormone levels.
24. Vivid Dreams
I had dreams that I was having twins before I knew I was pregnant. It was so real that I asked my provider to triple check that there was only one baby at every ultrasound. I was convinced that my dream meant something because it was so vivid. I didn't end up being pregnant with twins but the fact that I dreamt that I was pregnant at all was a clue to me that I was carrying new life!
This early pregnancy symptom can start a week or so after conception and last throughout your entire pregnancy.
You may experience heartburn when your all of your muscles begin to loosen up. The muscle that is responsible for stopping acids in your stomach from coming up into your throat is no exception to this “loosening” going on. The sphincter muscle can become less effective at keeping acids where they are supposed to be at any time of day but will typically occur when you're lying down.
Feeling a burning feeling in your chest every night after dinner? You just may be pregnant.
26. “Feeling pregnant”
Mother's intuition is not something to overlook. If you “have a feeling” that you're pregnant or that something is “just different”, I wouldn't brush it off completely. Sometimes a woman just knows.
Especially if you were trying to get pregnant, you are probably very in tune with your body. Some women just know right away that they are pregnant. If you have a feeling that you're going to miss your period this month, you just might be experiencing the earliest sign of pregnancy before you can take a pregnancy test.
How Soon Might I Experience Pregnancy Symptoms before my Missed Period?
If you have a very regular and predictable menstrual cycle, a missed period is going to be an almost-obvious sign that you have a bun in the oven. But how soon before then can you find out that you're pregnant?
As soon as your egg is fertilized, it makes it's way to your uterus to implant into the uterine wall. When this happens, your body immediately starts experiencing internal changes that are required to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Whether or not you are feeling these changes completely depends on the person! Some women don't begin to experience symptoms of early pregnancy until well into their first trimester. Other women might start feeling a few symptoms as early as one week after ovulation (or one week before a missed period).
Although the answer to “When will I start feeling pregnancy symptoms?” is different for every woman, typically you won't have any early signs of pregnancy more than 10 days before your missed period. This is because those pregnancy hormones we've talked about just haven't built up in your system enough at that time to notice.
Just remember that you can feel some, all, or NONE of these symptoms and still have a perfectly healthy baby growing inside of you. Don't worry that you aren't feeling any symptoms just because someone else is feeling all of them.
What Can Cause a Delay In Your Period?
Unfortunately, even a missed period is not a 100% sign that you are pregnant. A delay in your period can be caused by changes in your weight, eating habits, prescription or recreational drug use, or even chronic illnesses such as polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid disorder, and diabetes.
You may even skip your period all together and not be pregnant. Sometimes hormonal changes, recently stopping birth control, and stress factors can lead to a missed period this month. If any of these possibilities apply to you, wait a few days after your missed period and take a home pregnancy test. If you still don't have answers, you can seek care from your provider to see what's going on.
Is it Possible to be Pregnant and Still Have a Period?
No. A “period” is when the lining of your uterus sheds because an egg did not implant. That is the whole purpose of a period. If you are having your “period”, then you are shedding the inner lining of your uterus to prepare for another month of trying to conceive. If you are shedding the lining of your uterus while you are pregnant, then that will result in a miscarriage.
On the other hand, not all bleeding is a period. Many women believe that they are having a period during their pregnancy because they have significant spotting in early pregnancy. The spotting usually comes from the damage that implantation is causing to the lining of your uterus. As the embryo buries deep into the uterus, you might find pink or dark brown blood on your undies or toilet paper when you use the restroom.
Other reasons you might have bleeding during your pregnancy is Subchorionic Hematoma or placenta previa. Neither of these types of bleeding would be considered a period, but would be totally understandable for you to be concerned about.
Make an appointment with an OBGYN ASAP if you are concerned about bleeding during any point of your pregnancy.
Am I Pregnant? Or Not?
If you experience these early signs of pregnancy before you've missed you're period, you might wonder, “Am I really pregnant?”
The answer might certainly be “yes!” But sometimes these symptoms could just be premenstrual symptoms, a change in your lifestyle, increased stress level, or a diet change. It might be difficult to really be sure that you're pregnant by tracking symptoms alone.
How to know you're pregnant – for sure!
Of course, if you really want to know if you are pregnant without a shadow of a doubt, there are a number of ways to find that out. The first thing that you will do in order to be certain that you're pregnant is take home pregnancy test. Because false negatives are common with home urine tests, if you have a negative result and still believe that you might be pregnant, wait three days to allow for your HCG levels to increase and then take another test.
If you are continuing to get negative home pregnancy tests and you have missed your period, it might be time to contact your doctor. Express your thoughts and concerns to your doctor and request that they run a blood HCG test to be certain of what your HCG levels are. Depending on what your first HCG level is, your doctor may order a repeat level 48 – 72 hours later to see if the numbers are going up.
Last but certainly not least, to confirm your pregnancy, your doctor may offer an ultrasound. Funny thing is, in early pregnancy, an ultrasound does not give 100% clarity either. If you have an ultrasound too early, you may see nothing at all, you may see just a sack with no embryo, or you may see an embryo but no beating heart. None of those things mean that you aren't pregnant. They don't even necessarily mean that you don't have a viable pregnancy.
Sometimes the absolute best thing for you and your sanity when it comes to knowing if you're pregnant is TIME. Time, time time. Give it time. Time will allow your blood HCGs to rise. It will allow your urine HCG level to rise. Time will allow your baby to grow big enough to see on ultrasound. Or, on the other hand, time might give you the answer you need when your period finally does start.
Taking a Pregnancy Test
A home pregnancy test detects the presence of the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) in your urine. If you take the test correctly (as listed on the package insert) and you get a positive pregnancy test, it is almost 100% certain that you are pregnant!
How can you be so sure? Well, a woman who is not pregnant does not have HCG in her system. Our bodies actually do not produce HCG on it's own. The only way that you will have detectable HCG in your urine will be if you actually conceived. This is because the embryo itself (or the placenta, rather) produces HCG. As the embryo grows and placenta continues to develop, the level of HCG in your blood will continue to increase.
Some home pregnancy tests are more reliable than others. Although it is HIGHLY unlikely that you get a false positive result, false negatives are actually pretty common. To make sure I have the most reliable result, I always use these pregnancy tests when I am testing early and then these ones to get a prettier result. 😉
How early can I take a Home Pregnancy Test?
Although some home pregnancy tests claim to be able to give you a accurate result up to 6 days before your missed period, typically it is wise to wait two weeks from the day you ovulated before you take a test. Even if you have conceived before then, your HCG levels are likely too low to be detected in your urine.
If you don't want the disappointment of a false negative test, I recommend waiting until two or three days after your period was supposed to start before you begin taking home pregnancy tests. This will ensure that you have an accurate result and you won't have to burn a hole in your pocket by buying new tests every few days.
Can I Take A Home Pregnancy Test Before I Start Feeling Early Pregnancy Symptoms?
YES! Although I recommend waiting to take a test until after you've missed your period, you do not have to wait until you start feeling pregnant! Some women never feel any different until they notice their belly growing. Crazy, I know. You don't have to be nauseated, fatigued, or bloated before you decide that it's time to take a test!
On the other side of the coin, many women wonder “How long after I start feeling pregnancy symptoms can I take a home pregnancy test?”. Well, that's a little more complicated. You may start to feel symptoms well before you can get a positive result when you pee on a stick. Even if you are feeling every early pregnancy symptom in the book, you will probably do well to wait until after you've missed your period before you take a home pregnancy test to confirm it.
What Can I Do Now?
If you started experiencing some of these early pregnancy sings or symptoms before you've missed your period, don't buy the baby announcements just yet. In the meantime, before you are able to know for certain that you are pregnant, you should still be taking care of yourself like you are pregnant. This means that you should get enough sleep, stay hydrated, take your prenatal vitamins, stop smoking, stop drinking, and make a conscious decision to be healthier for your potential baby.
- Related Read: What To Do When You Find Out You're Pregnant
One thing that I have to remind you NOT to do now is compare yourself to other women. Like I mentioned earlier, every woman is unique. Your body will respond to pregnancy hormones differently than the woman next door. You may feel completely different signs of early pregnancy than she does…or you might experience none at all! Whatever you do, don't upset yourself by analyzing every sign, symptom, and feeling compared to every pregnant Jane Doe that you run into.
Early Signs of Pregnancy Before Your Missed Period
Let's review! These are the 26 earliest signs of pregnancy that you might notice before you've missed your period.
- Implantation Bleeding
- Increased Basal Body Temperature
- Cervical Mucus Changes
- Breast Changes
- Darkening Areolas
- Extreme Fatigue
- Food Cravings
- Frequent Urination
- Mood Swings
- Aches & Pains
- Funny Taste In Mouth
- Excessive Thirst
- Shortness of Breath
- Hot Flashes
- Skin Changes
- Vivid Dreams
- Heart Burn
- Mother's intuition
The moment you find out you're pregnant make sure you check out The Ultimate Pregnancy Preparation Journal! I created this Pregnancy Planner to make your pregnancy as smooth and organized as possible while helping you document all of your best (and worst) moments of your pregnancy. It's the perfect Pregnancy Workbook to help you keep everything in one place and never miss a beat. I seriously wish I had this Pregnancy Journal when I was pregnant with my first.
What were your early signs of pregnancy before you missed your period? Leave a comment to let me know!
What To Read Next:
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- First Trimester Bleeding – Why It Happens and What It Means
- 13 of The Absolute Best Pregnancy Tips For First Time Moms
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