If you’re trying to get pregnant, here are the early signs you may be expecting before your monthly flow goes MIA.
You’ve ditched the birth control, started tracking your basal body temperature, and are hitting the sheets with your partner on the regular. Now you’re wondering: Are those symptoms you’re experiencing just PMS…or a tip-off that a bun’s in the oven?
If you just can’t wait to take a home pregnancy test, here are a few early signs of pregnancy before a missed period that may signal you’ve conceived.
Until you’ve produced a positive pregnancy test, there’s no way to know for sure you’re expecting. But experiencing any of these early pregnancy symptoms before your period normally arrives could mean you’ve hit baby bingo:
- Tender breasts. Breasts are often the first body part to get the message when sperm meets egg. Some women’s breasts may feel tingly, sore, full and even painful to the touch within days of conception as estrogen levels start to rise. That said, these changes may not feel a whole lot different from PMS breasts — the changes simply stick around after your missed period.
- Darkening areolas. Here’s one change in your breasts that can’t be confused with PMS: You may notice that your areolas (the circles around your nipples) darken and increase in diameter in the weeks following conception. You may also spot tiny goosebump-like bumps on your areolas (glands that will eventually lubricate your nursing nipples). Both of these changes can only be chalked up to pregnancy. That said, these early pregnancy signs can take weeks to show up, and not all women will notice them.
- Fatigue. With all that work that goes into baby-making, plus higher levels of pregnancy hormones, the first four months of pregnancy can leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy. Keep in mind, though, a case of the sleepies can also mean you’re PMS-ing, over-stressed or not getting enough sleep.
- Nausea. Just days after conception, you might start to get the queasies (a.k.a. morning sickness) due to a rush of new pregnancy hormones — although nausea is more likely to rear its ugly head four weeks later, when you’re around 6 weeks pregnant. Again, not everyone gets nauseous; it could also be a sign of PMS, a stomach bug or food poisoning.
- Sensitivity to smell. Some newly pregnant women report a heightened sense of smell early on due to increased levels of estrogen. Once again, however, a keener-than-usual nose could also be a side effect of PMS.
- Bloating. As all women know, it’s one of the least-loved PMS symptoms — but bloating can also be a sign of increased pregnancy-induced progesterone that slows down your digestive tract, trapping gas inside your intestines.
- Urinary frequency. If you suddenly find that you need to pee, like, all the time, it could be an early sign of pregnancy before your period. As soon as two weeks after conception — around the time you’d normally be getting your period — your kidneys start gearing up to filter out the extra waste in your blood from the baby on board. Your growing uterus also starts pushing on your bladder and your progesterone levels increase, resulting in a frequent (or constant) need to pee during pregnancy.
- Elevated basal body temperature (BBT). If you’ve already been tracking your temperature, you know that it typically increases around the time of ovulation as progesterone levels rise; both drop when you have your period. But if you conceive, your body temperature will remain elevated from ovulation throughout your pregnancy. Count 18 or more consecutive days of elevated temperature post-ovulation, and it’s a good sign you’re plus-one.
- Cervical mucus. Have you become a student of your cervical mucus? Then check it out now: If it becomes creamy and stays that way after ovulation, it’s a good sign you’ll have a positive pregnancy test.
Keep in mind, just because you’ve experienced some of these symptoms doesn’t mean you’re expecting. You could also have none of them at all and still go on to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy.