Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs

By Elleth Faewen, Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs

How can you tell if you are pregnant? There are a number of signs and symptoms to watch for. Chances are you will only experience a portion of the symptoms. Each pregnancy is different, and the same mom to be can experience different pregnancy signs each time she gets pregnant.

Pregnancy symptoms can begin for some mothers immediately after conception. Some pregnancy signs require that you chart your cycle, noting your daily basal body temperature.


While a rare minority will experience pregnancy symptoms sooner, typically the first pregnancy signs occur when your baby implants around 8-10 days after ovulation. Implantation causes an increase in progesterone levels, which can lead to higher temperatures giving you a tri-phasic chart. If you temperature remains high for fifteen or more days after ovulation, you may be pregnant. Some women will see a slight temperature drop at implantation. Implantation bleeding sometimes occurs and can be pink, red, or brown in color. You may also have lower abdominal cramps.

Positive Pregnancy Test

The next and best sign that you are pregnant is a positive pregnancy test. Home pregnancy tests measure the pregnancy hormone hCG in your urine. The most sensitive home pregnancy tests will show a positive result when the hCG levels reach 20, which can happen as early as four days before your period is due, or approximately 10 days after ovulation.

False negatives are common when testing early with a home pregnancy test, so I recommend you wait to use one until eighteen days after ovulation to avoid false negatives. The usual recommendation is to wait until 14 days after ovulation before testing. Blood serum pregnancy tests performed by your doctor are much more sensitive. They can detect hCG levels as low as five. If you continue to experience pregnancy symptoms, but your home pregnancy test continues to show negative, you can make an appointment with your doctor to confirm your pregnancy.

Missed Period

One of the most common pregnancy signs is a missed period. For women with a standard 28-day cycle, their period is late if it has not arrived fifteen days after ovulation, or twenty-nine days after the first day of their cycle. Elevated basal body temperatures for 15 or more days will typically accompany the missed period.

Frequent Urination

Frequenturination is a very common early symptom of pregnancy. You may find yourself unable to be away from a bathroom for more than hour at a time, or waking up in the middle of the night to urinate.

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness can begin as early as 2 to 4 weeks after conception. The term morning sickness is something of a misnomer, as you can experience the nausea and vomiting throughout the day. Morning sickness typically is worst during the first trimester, and most pregnant women will have their morning sickness symptoms lessen or subside completely during the second or third trimester.

Breast Changes

Breast tenderness usually begins around 3 to 4 weeks after conception. This can also be a sign of your impending period. Usually the degree of breast tenderness is much stronger with pregnancy than with your period. You may also notice a slight tingling sensation.

Another change to your breasts early in pregnancy is the appearance. Your areolas can become larger and darker.


Fatigue can be an early sign of pregnancy. This symptom is not just being a little tired; it is more like feeling totally wiped out. Your normal daily activities can send you to complete exhaustion.

Body Discomforts

The physical and hormonal changes you experience with pregnancy can cause a long list of body changes that are annoying and uncomfortable. You may experience headaches, backaches, acne, constipation, heartburn, mood swings, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, indigestion, and abdominal cramps.

Food Cravings

Food cravings are a very common pregnancy symptom. Approximately 85% of women will experience some type of food craving during their pregnancy.

Food Aversions

The other side of food cravings is food aversions. They are also a very common sign of early pregnancy. You may find that a favorite food suddenly makes you feel nauseated just thinking about it.

Smell Aversions

A heightened sense of smell may cause some odors to seem stronger than normal when you are pregnant. Some smell aversions can cause food aversions.

Baby Movement

You can feel your baby moving as early as 16 weeks, but for first-time mothers may not feel the baby moving until 20 weeks or more.


For some women, they just “feel” pregnant, even though they have had no other signs or symptoms. A mother's intuition is frequently accurate.

It is possible to experience some of the signs and symptoms of pregnancy, yet still not be pregnant. It is important that both you and your baby get under a doctor’s care as early as possible. If you think you might be pregnant, treat your body as if you are pregnant until you know for sure. Take a home pregnancy test if you miss your period. If the test shows positive, then you are pregnant. Congratulations!

Elleth Faewen is a wife who has lost three pregnancies, one to stillbirth, one to miscarriage, and one to an ectopic pregnancy. She founded Baby Talk Zone as a friendly online resource for those pregnant, trying to conceive, and adopting. Elleth is currently on the waiting list for IVF.