A missed period is often the first sign of pregnancy. Some people may experience mild uterine cramps in the first few weeks, among other symptoms. Here’s what to watch for and what to do next.
Your breasts are sore, you’re tired and cranky, and you’re craving carbs. You also may be experiencing uncomfortable cramping.
Sounds like you’re about to start your period, right? It may surprise you to learn that these symptoms could all be early signs that you’re pregnant, not premenstrual.
The majority of these symptoms are related to surging hormones. And while every person is different, some symptoms are more common than others.
Breasts that are tender, sore, or swollen can be a sign of an impending period. But these same symptoms can also indicate that you’re pregnant.
Hormonal changes during early pregnancy can cause breasts to feel sensitive or sore. They can also feel heavier or more full. You may notice that your areolas, or the skin around your nipples, are becoming darker.
Morning sickness is a classic symptom of early pregnancy. It can persist into later trimesters, too.
Despite the name, you may experience nausea at any time of the day or night, not just in the morning. Morning sickness can sometimes begin as early as three weeks after implantation.
Blame this symptom on those early pregnancy hormones and an increase in the volume of your blood. Together, they can mean more frequent headaches.
If you’re prone to migraine episodes, you may experience more of them during pregnancy. Some people also experience fewer migraine episodes.
Fatigue is another by-product of soaring hormones at the beginning of a pregnancy.
Progesterone, in particular, is the culprit here: It can make you feel very tired.
During pregnancy, your blood vessels dilate, and your blood pressure drops. Together, this can make you feel lightheaded.
There are other symptoms of early pregnancy you might experience, including:
- Slight bleeding: For some people, an early symptom of pregnancy is spotting. It’s called implantation bleeding, which happens about 10 to 14 days after the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. This kind of bleeding doesn’t last long, and it usually happens around the time you’d normally have a period. This can be misleading. The difference is that implantation bleeding isn’t typically as heavy as menstrual bleeding.
- Rapid shifts in mood: If you’re feeling particularly emotional or find yourself bursting into tears, it may be a result of pregnancy hormones.
- Constipation: A sluggish digestive system is another hormone-related symptom some people experience during pregnancy.
- Backaches: While lower back pain can be a problem for the length of a pregnancy, some people notice it very early on.
- Frequent urination: Somewhere between six to eight weeks after implantation, you may find that you have an increased need to urinate but don’t feel any pain or discomfort like you would with a urinary tract infection.
While all of these symptoms can be signs of early pregnancy, they can also mean something else altogether.
A missed period, in particular, may be caused by:
The reverse is also true: You may have none of the symptoms discussed in this article and still be pregnant.
It’s also important to understand that these symptoms aren’t exclusive to pregnancy. That means there are other reasons that you could be experiencing them.
If your period is late and you notice any of these symptoms, consider taking a home pregnancy test. You might also make an appointment with a healthcare professional to confirm your results and discuss your options.