Maybe you have taken a test and found out you are pregnant already.
Or perhaps you just have a hunch?
Either way, here is your step by step guide to the early signs that you might be pregnant.
Could I be pregnant?
This is one of the first questions you might ask if your period does not come as expected.
For many women, a late period or a pregnancy period that is different from normal, is often the first moment of realisation that pregnancy is a possibility.
Of course, this can mean that many people find out for sure once they are already a few weeks pregnant.
If a test confirms that you are pregnant, but you are still experiencing bleeding, it is best to get it checked out. It can often be totally normal, but it can also be a sign of miscarriage.1
How pregnancy is calculated
Pregnancy is calculated as nine months plus seven days, starting from the first day of your last period, not from the date of conception.2
Whether you are actively trying to get pregnant or not, a period tracking app or ovulation app can be a helpful way of keeping track of this information.
This means that if you have discovered you are pregnant because your period didn’t come, you may already be at least four weeks pregnant!
Some more jargon that you will want to know is that pregnancy is broken down into three phases, also known as trimesters.3
This refers to weeks 1 - 12.
This refers to weeks 13 - 28.
This refers to weeks 28 until birth.
The first signs of pregnancy
Once you have taken a test to find out, the next question might be, what are the early signs of pregnancy?
As well as an absence of menstruation, there are many other physical clues that you might be pregnant4:
- Nausea and vomiting, also known as ‘morning sickness’
- Painful breasts
- Changes in urination and/or vaginal discharge
- Cravings and changes in what you want to eat
The urge to urinate more often
If you find yourself desperate for the toilet more often at any time of day, it could be a clue that you’re pregnant.
Around 4-6 weeks after your last period, you might start experiencing nausea and also vomiting.
This is commonly known as ‘morning sickness’, which is a complete misnomer as it can occur any time, night or day!
For most people, actually being sick every now and again should not cause too much of a worry: the baby will still be getting all the nutrients they need, as long as you can keep some food down.
But staying hydrated is super important if you are throwing up.
Many people find morning sickness goes away as they enter into the second trimester (week 12), and most people find it stops by week 20.
A small percentage of expectant people might experience severe vomiting, which means they cannot get enough nutrition for themselves or the baby.
Known as hyperemesis gravidarum, this requires medical treatment.
As your body becomes flooded with new hormones, one of the key changes you are likely to experience is aching or even painful breasts.
Although the possibility of a baby is months away, your breasts are likely to get bigger and might even change shape and appearance, with veins and nipples becoming more prominent.
Tiredness is another early sign of pregnancy.
For many women, it is more like an overwhelming exhaustion that means you might fall asleep almost instantaneously!
Fatigue can cause other symptoms, such as mood changes (especially low mood) and feeling under the weather or run down.5
It is a good indication from your body that you are going to need to slow down for the next nine months!
As the hormones flood in and the uterus grows and changes to prepare to carry a baby, it is normal to experience changes ‘down there’.
These include changes in discharge, frequent urination and constipation when it comes to bowel movements.
In terms of discharge, as long as it is white, thin and/or clear with no smell, it is normal.
For anything other than this, it is worth seeing a healthcare professional.6
Strange cravings and different tastes
If your favourite chocolate bar doesn’t seem appealing anymore, you could be pregnant.
In the early stages, many women lose interest in food they used to love and due to a heightened sense of taste and smell, may even find them disgusting.
If you’re still unsure, take a pregnancy test to find out for certain. Try another test in a week if you’re still having symptoms after a negative result.
The importance of taking folic acid
If you have found out you are less than 12 weeks pregnant, it is important you start taking a folic acid supplement.7 Folate contributes to maternal tissue growth during pregnancy.
You might like to check out Holland & Barrett’s range of folic acid supplements.
Last updated: 11 March 2021
Author: Bhupesh Panchal
Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.
Author: Bhupesh Panchal