If you are trying to get pregnant or wonder if you are pregnant, it pays to know the symptoms of pregnancy very early in the process. That way you can know you are pregnant at the earliest possible time and not after a missed period.
Bear in mind that you might have no pregnancy symptoms until well after you have missed your period. Not every woman has early pregnancy symptoms. Let’s take a little quiz to see what you know about pregnancy symptoms:
1. You can have a negative test and still be pregnant. True or false?
2. You can get pregnancy symptoms two weeks before missed periods. True or false?
3. The first pregnancy symptom is nausea and vomiting. True or false?
4. Pregnancy signs are easy to identify. True or false?
5. You can have a positive pregnancy test before missed period. True or false?
6. It is unusual to have pregnancy symptoms before a missed period. True or false?
7. There is no difference between pregnancy symptoms and PMS symptoms. True or false?
8. You can have no pregnancy symptoms and still be pregnant. True or false?
9. When you have a late period, it always means pregnancy. True or false?
10. If you have irregular periods, it is harder to get pregnant. True or false?
1. You can have a negative test and still be pregnant. True or false? This answer is true. If you take your pregnancy test too early, you can get a false negative result that will become positive after a few more days.
2. You can get pregnancy symptoms two weeks before missed periods. True or false? This is false. Two weeks before a missed period is when you ovulate. You technically aren’t even pregnant yet until the egg is fertilized with sperm.
3. The first pregnancy symptom is nausea and vomiting. True or false? This is generally false. Nausea and vomiting usually don’t come until you are six weeks pregnant, and you will often have cramping and breast tenderness before this happens.
4. Pregnancy signs are easy to identify. True or false? This is false. Early pregnancy signs can be very difficult to identify as they often mimic PMS symptoms. It is only after a positive pregnancy test that you know the symptoms are due to pregnancy.
5. You can have a positive pregnancy test before missed period. True or false? This is true. A pregnancy test of blood or an ultra-sensitive urine test can be positive 5-6 days before a missed period.
6. It is unusual to have pregnancy symptoms before a missed period. True or false? This is true. The levels of HCG are very low before you miss your period so the symptoms you get are essentially no different from premenstrual symptoms and more obvious symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, don’t occur until two weeks after the missed period.
7. There is no difference between pregnancy symptoms and PMS symptoms. True or false? This is true. Before you miss your period, you will have the same cramping, breast tenderness, and irritability that you would have if you were going to have your period. The only difference is that if you get your period, you are likely not pregnant.
8. You can have no pregnancy symptoms and still be pregnant. True or false? This is true. Not every woman gets pregnancy symptoms, and some women never get them and are surprised months later when it becomes obvious that they are pregnant, or they go into labor.
9. When you have a late period, it always means pregnancy. True or false? This is false. If you have irregular periods, you can ovulate late and will get a late period as a result. You might think you are pregnant when you are actually in the post-ovulatory phase of your cycle.
10. If you have irregular periods, it is harder to get pregnant. True or false? This is true. Irregular periods can mean you aren’t ovulating or that you consistently ovulate late. This makes it difficult to plan for pregnancy unless you have an ovulation test kit that will show you if you have had an ovulation during the cycle.
Pregnancy Symptoms before a missed period
It can be difficult to tell period symptoms vs. pregnancy symptoms before a missed period. There will be cramping and breast tenderness if you have ovulated and have a fertilized egg, and there will be these same symptoms if you do not have a fertilized egg. It is only when you have a loss of these symptoms during the period that you know you aren’t pregnant. If the symptoms persist, and you got no period or a short period, you might actually be pregnant and should take a pregnancy test.
If you have irregular periods, pregnancy symptoms may be even harder to define because you don’t know where you are in the cycle. It is only right after a period is missed that you begin to suspect you are pregnant and do a pregnancy test. Irregular cycles can have a late period consistently or an early period consistently. If you ovulate irregularly, you are likely to get a late period every cycle and your cycles will be longer than 28 days. If you regularly get early periods, this can mean you aren’t ovulating and that you need to take medication to stimulate ovulation if you want to get pregnant. Your gynecologist can help you with this if you are trying to get pregnant.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms before a Missed Period
Early pregnancy symptoms before a missed period often involve things like extreme breast tenderness from estrogen levels being high and cramping, which can be present whether or not you are pregnant. This is why it is so important to go ahead and do a pregnancy test if you think you may be pregnant. It is just too hard to identify pregnancy symptoms vs. premenstrual symptoms, and a pregnancy test can clarify the issue quite quickly. That way, when you get no period, you know it is from being pregnant and not from anything being wrong with you.
Symptoms of Pregnancy before a Missed Period
Can you have pregnancy symptoms before a missed period? You can have some symptoms, like cramping or breast tenderness, but these can be nearly identical to symptoms you get before you get your period. If you get ongoing breast tenderness while on a period, this can represent implantation bleeding rather than a regular period, and you might instead be pregnant. If you had these symptoms but got a period, it may represent an early miscarriage that wouldn’t otherwise have been identified unless you had a positive pregnancy test before the period started.
Pregnancy Symptoms after Period has been missed
When you finally get no period and have a positive pregnancy test, the pregnancy symptoms become more obvious. There is ongoing significant breast tenderness along with periodic cramping and the beginnings of nausea, food intolerances and morning sickness. Some of these symptoms don’t occur until you have missed your period by at least two weeks. This is when HCG levels are the highest and some women respond by being nauseated and by having vomiting, especially on an empty stomach.
The typical baby bump doesn’t usually develop until you are at least 12 weeks pregnant although you may have difficulty fitting into your tightest jeans before that. By then, much of nausea and vomiting will have disappeared and you will be less fatigued. As your baby grows, you may have more energy and will begin to feel the baby move. It will become realer when you find out if it is a boy or a girl at about 18-20 weeks gestation. This is when you will also feel the first fluttering of the baby kicking and will begin to wear clothes that make it obvious to everyone that you are pregnant.
The second trimester is usually a very good time because you can eat what you want and have more energy than you did in the first trimester. The baby will continue to grow and develop in the second trimester but won’t be viable outside of the uterus until you reach the third trimester of pregnancy. Hopefully, you will have been taking prenatal vitamins throughout the pregnancy and will gain about a pound every week or two so that your overall weight gain will be about 25 pounds throughout the pregnancy.
Pregnancy Symptoms you may have to worry about
There are some pregnancy symptoms that need medical attention. For example, if you get spotting in the first or second trimester, you should have an ultrasound to make sure the placenta is okay and that it isn’t riding too low in the uterus. Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta covers the cervical opening and spotting is a common symptom. When you have placenta previa that occurs throughout the pregnancy, you can’t have a vaginal birth but must have a cesarean section in order to deliver a healthy baby. Spotting after sex or at any time during the pregnancy can mean you have a placenta previa that needs to be monitored more closely so you don’t go into labor before you have the baby by cesarean section.
Severe nausea and vomiting in the early weeks of pregnancy can be something to worry about. Women with excessive nausea and vomiting may develop hyperemesis gravidarum, in which they have dehydration and cannot keep anything down. This often requires IV hydration and a trip to the hospital to receive fluids until nausea passes. This can take a couple of weeks but usually goes away after the first trimester is over with. Rarely does this adversely affect the fetus and in fact usually means that the fetus is doing very well and HCG levels are high. Still, IV fluids can help the pregnant woman with hyperemesis gravidarum feel better and medications can be given to control nausea if the woman agrees to take medication during pregnancy.
What to do about pregnancy symptoms
Most women tolerate pregnancy symptoms very well. They take in small meals to keep nausea and vomiting away and they wear a tight bra to cut down on breast tenderness. Food intolerances develop in the first trimester and may last into the second trimester. As long as these foods are avoided, nausea and vomiting can be kept under some control.
The cramping seen around the time of the missed period is often replaced by the presence of “round ligament pain”. In round ligament pain, there is a sudden sharp pain in the left or right pelvic area that comes on when standing up too fast or when the pregnant woman shifts her weight a certain way. This pain can be severe but usually doesn’t last more than a few minutes and represents the stretching of the round ligament of the uterus in the expanding belly. Round ligament pain is worst at the end of the first trimester as well as the beginning of the second trimester but passes eventually. It does not signify anything dangerous and is a normal symptom of pregnancy.
If a pregnant woman has aches and pains during pregnancy, she can take Tylenol for discomfort. This also works for fever. Talk to your obstetrician if you need to take other medications during pregnancy. Some medications cannot be taken during pregnancy or must be avoided in the first trimester when the fetus is developing rapidly. Later on in pregnancy, when the fetus has, for the most part, developed and is just growing, women can take medications that they shouldn’t take when the vital organs are in the early stages of development. When the fetus is fully formed and birth defects are unlikely, medications can be taken such as ibuprofen or even selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (for depression in pregnancy) that will not likely harm the fetus and can be taken until the time of delivery.