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first signs of pregnancy

The Earliest Signs You Might Be Pregnant

Whether they’ve been planning and hoping for a new addition to the family, or they’re dreading the consequences of a few bad decisions, most women face the uncertainty of a potential pregnancy with a few days of heightened anxiety. Unfortunately, biology imposes a waiting period for those women trying to interpret the early signs of pregnancy.

Most home pregnancy tests can only detect pregnancy hormones around the first day of your next (presumably missed) period. But since ovulation usually occurs about halfway through a regular — let’s assume a 28-day — cycle, that leaves approximately ten to fourteen days between ovulation/possible conception and the day you can take a pregnancy test. At the very least, you have to angst your way through 10 days; the most sensitive home pregnancy tests can only detect pregnancy hormones (HGC) 10 days after conception.

To keep you from going mad with positive (or negative) speculation during that time, here’s your guide to early pregnancy symptoms, so you can separate the real signs that you are pregnant, from the imaginary.

Possible early signs of pregnancy

We’ve ranked these first signs of pregnancy in order of how soon after conception you might experience them. But it’s important to remember is that each woman’s body is different, and each pregnancy is different; you may experience one or more of the following symptoms and may not be pregnant — or you may experience none, but still be pregnant. There are any number of factors, hormonal or other, that could be causing similar pregnancy symptoms. However, these are the most common, early signs of pregnancy.

Sore or tender breasts

One of the earliest signs of pregnancy that women report  is unusually sore or tender breasts, which can happen as early as 1 week after conception.

Fatigue

Growing a baby is hard work, and bodies get tired while they’re doing it! Early pregnancy involves a lot of fatigue, and exceptional tiredness can start as soon as 1 week after conception.

Spotting

Some women experience light spotting 1-2 weeks after conception, in what is known as “implantation bleeding,” that is, bleeding that results from the fertilized egg implanting itself onto the wall of the uterus (which is one of the earliest, necessary developments in a healthy pregnancy). This is completely normal, but the bleeding does not happen to everyone.

A missed period

It sounds obvious, but about 30% of women report their missed period as the first sign they might be pregnant. As explained above, a missed period usually occurs 1-2 weeks after conception. If you usually have regular periods, and are a few days late, it may be a good idea to take a pregnancy test — which will likely be effective at this point in your cycle — but keep in mind that even women with very regular periods do occasionally experience delays of as much as a week; a missed period by itself is not necessarily a conclusive sign of pregnancy.

Nausea

The nausea that accompanies pregnancy, also called “morning sickness,” can start as early as 2 weeks after conception.

There are other early signs of pregnancy, such as food cravings or aversions, backaches and headaches, frequent urination, and mood swings, but these usually occur a few weeks after the symptoms listed above and after a home pregnancy test has become effective. And just a reminder that even if that home test reads positive, that result needs to be confirmed by a test from an OB/GYN.

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