Trying to conceive can involve a lot of waiting. But there are early signs of pregnancy before a missed period. Here’s what to look out for.
Missing your period is the classic sign that you might be pregnant, but if you’re trying to conceive (aka TTC), that can sometimes feel like a bit too much waiting around.
So, are there early signs of pregnancy before a missed period, and what are they?
Well, we won’t keep you waiting: yes, there are some early signs of pregnancy to look out for.
Of course, the only way to know for certain is to take a test — but these telltale early pregnancy symptoms can indicate if it’s time to go and grab one.
We spoke with embryologist and fertility expert, Navya Muralidhar, to get the full low-down on the early signs of pregnancy before a missed period.
In this article 📝
- What’s the most obvious early pregnancy sign?
- What would early pregnancy feel like?
- How do I know I’m pregnant before my missed period?
- How soon do early pregnancy symptoms start?
- What to do after spotting early pregnancy signs
- What if I don’t have any early pregnancy symptoms while TTC?
What’s the most obvious early pregnancy sign?
It won’t surprise you to learn that the most common early pregnancy symptom noticed by most women is a missed period.
In fact, this is the first early pregnancy sign noticed by most people who are trying to conceive.
You’ll probably notice your missed period by around week 4 of your pregnancy, depending on how frequently and regularly you typically get your period.
However, implantation bleeding can muddy the waters here (more on that later), and you may not even realize that you have missed your period initially.
Because a missed period is such an important early sign of pregnancy, you must keep a log of your periods when TTC.
Over time, this will give you a better idea of how regular your period is, how long your period tends to last, and how frequently it occurs.
You can keep this log simple by keeping a TTC journal or you prefer to use an app so you can also log your symptoms ‒ but it’s worth checking that the period-logging app you want to use protects your data.
Then, when you look back at this log, you’ll have a better idea of whether you have truly missed your period or are simply experiencing a later period than usual.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that there can be other reasons for missing a period other than an early sign of pregnancy.
A missed period could also point to a variety of hormonal changes, stress, sickness, or fatigue.
If you have recently stopped using birth control like the pill, IUD, or implant, you may find that you miss a period or two as your hormones fluctuate for a time.
What would early pregnancy feel like?
Well, there’s no single answer here.
The entire pregnancy journey can feel different for everyone.
So some may experience a myriad of early pregnancy symptoms, while others find that those early signs of pregnancy they were keeping an eye out for passed them by.
Ultimately, the only definite (or rather, 99.9% accurate) way of telling whether you’re pregnant is a positive pregnancy test (or maybe a few, just to be sure!).
How do I know I’m pregnant before my missed period?
If you’re trying to conceive, there are some helpful early signs of pregnancy you may notice early on.
Knowing what these are can help add to the excitement of trying for a baby — but it’s worth being aware that they can also indicate completely unrelated bodily changes.
While a positive pregnancy test is the best way to get a definitive answer, some early pregnancy symptoms can help clue you in to the adventure to come.
Here’s what to look for:
1. Breast changes
In the first few weeks after conception, some peoples’ nipples change: the areolas get darker, grow in diameter, or get goose pimple-like lumps on them (called Montgomery’s tubercles).
Because of rapidly fluctuating hormones in your body, your breasts may possibly clue you into a pregnancy before you notice any other early pregnancy symptoms.
Most likely, you will also notice that your breasts become tender and ache all over.
If you’ve experienced sore breasts during PMS, this early pregnancy sign may be familiar, as hormonal changes in your body can cause sensitivity.
As your estrogen levels rise during early pregnancy, your boobs may feel tingly, sore, full, or even painful.
These breast changes are just one more way that your body is getting ready to nourish that new little life that you are carrying.
Your body is simply getting ready to create nourishment for when your little one enters the world.
➡️ Dig deeper: What Do Your Breasts Look Like in Early Pregnancy?
The pregnancy-induced hormone progesterone can slow down your digestive tract, resulting in bloating.
If you’re wondering how your lower stomach feels in early pregnancy, this is your answer!
You won’t be able to actually feel your baby just yet, they’re teeny-tiny!
It may feel as if you have eaten too much, as digestion slows down for pregnant people, since much of your body’s blood and energy is now being diverted to grow a tiny baby.
However, you may also note that your urination increases at the same time (more on that later), helping to rid your body of wastes more efficiently than usual.
This may be able to help with bloating due to water retention, but you may become irritated by your constant trips to the bathroom.
➡️ Dig deeper: What is Pregnancy Bloating?
3. Sensitive smell
Higher estrogen levels can make some women extra sensitive to smells — but again, it could also be PMS…
If anything that previously smelled mild gradually or suddenly smells unpleasant or strong, that may be another of our early pregnancy signs.
Nausea or morning sickness is a well-known early symptom of pregnancy that can be hard to miss.
All those hormones can make you feel nauseous early on in your pregnancy, although most women experience morning sickness or food aversions from around the 6-week mark.
Not everyone experiences this, however — and you could have a stomach bug to thank.
In women who experience nausea, this unwelcome side effect of pregnancy can show up anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks of pregnancy.
It usually abates by the end of the first trimester, leaving you with more energy for the second trimester.
However, some women experience longer or heavier bouts of nausea (known as hyperemesis gravidarum) than this and may need some medicinal help provided by an OB-GYN or midwife.
➡️ Dig deeper: Pregnancy Nausea: 13 Tips From Mamas Who Have Been There
During pregnancy, your body is doing a lot behind the scenes.
So, it’s not surprising that a common early pregnancy symptom is fatigue or sluggishness.
But of course, tiredness has several other likely causes too, like stress, travel, or simply changing your sleeping habits.
Fatigue is often associated with all three trimesters of pregnancy.
However, you may not realize that it could occur so soon after you become pregnant.
As your body is working hard to build a placenta to nourish your new baby, much of your usual energy stores will be sent to your uterus, and you may end up feeling incredibly tired.
If you suddenly find yourself craving an afternoon nap every day or crawling into bed earlier and earlier each evening, there’s a chance it could be an early pregnancy symptom.
➡️ Dig deeper: Understanding Pregnancy Fatigue
6. Peeing more
Two weeks after conception, your kidneys start preparing to filter out the extra waste in your blood from your baby.
Add higher progesterone levels and your growing uterus pushing on your bladder: peeing more is a universal early pregnancy symptom.
But it can also indicate a host of other things, like a UTI (urinary tract infection), medication, anxiety, diabetes, or even just drinking a lot of fluids.
➡️ Dig deeper: Thirsty in Early Pregnancy? Here’s Why
7. Feeling hot, hot, hot!
If you’re tracking your temperature, elevated basal body temperature (BBT) for 18 or more consecutive days can be an early pregnancy symptom.
That’s because pregnancy-induced progesterone will keep your temperature up.
After all, there’s a bun in your oven!
➡️ Dig deeper: Hot Flash While Pregnant: Should You Be Worried?
8. Cervical mucus
Another of the first signs of pregnancy could be in your underwear.
If your cervical mucus becomes creamy and stays that way throughout the month, could be a sign that a baby’s on the way.
➡️ Dig deeper: Cervical Mucus in Early Pregnancy: Key Info
9. Bleeding and cramping
Wait, what? Bleeding? But I thought being pregnant meant you didn’t get a period?
Well, usually, yes (although not always ‒ some people continue to have periods with a cryptic pregnancy).
But it’s not actually your period, it could be implantation bleeding.
Implantation bleeding and cramping are frequently listed as one of the first signs of pregnancy.
It can happen as early as the first week following your last period or anytime in the next three weeks, typically lasting around 3 days
While it could be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, you may not notice this change at all.
The color of the implantation bleeding might be pinkish or brownish.
In fact, studies show that 15-25% of pregnant people notice their implantation bleeding.
Other women see a bit of blood but do not think anything of it or chalk it up to an early period.
For these women, the implantation bleeding may not make sense until some of the other early pregnancy symptoms begin to appear.
➡️ Dig deeper: Subchorionic Hematoma: Bleeding During Pregnancy
10. Mood swings
If you typically have mood swings during PMS, you may not notice this early sign of pregnancy.
However, some women notice that they suddenly become moodier than usual or can start crying at the drop of a hat.
Once again, this moodiness can be chalked up to hormonal changes.
These mood changes will probably stay with you throughout the first trimester of your pregnancy.
While alternating between highs and lows can be normal, be sure to speak with your doctor if you feel that you are struggling with an unreasonable amount of mood swings or depression.
➡️ Dig deeper: Key Info About Depression During Pregnancy
Yup, sorry to say, mama-to-be, that you may be feeling constipated as an early sign of pregnancy before a missed period.
This is due to your slowed digestion.
Be sure to ask your doctor about how you can best treat this symptom.
Increasing dietary fiber and drinking more water may be enough to give you relief.
Feeling a painful throb in your head? That could be another early pregnancy symptom.
Although these are usually mild in pregnancy, they may feel a bit unusual or concerning to you.
And they’re pretty common, too, affecting around 39% of people during pregnancy or postpartum.
Make sure you’re well-rested, staying hydrated, and maintaining a balanced diet to help get rid of those early pregnancy headaches.
➡️ Dig deeper: What to Do About Early Pregnancy Headaches
This is a fairly common first sign of pregnancy, so if you’re feeling a twinge in your lower back or pelvis, that could be an early pregnancy symptom.
Essentially, your body is getting ready for labor from the get-go, so the ligaments in your lower back are getting softer to make things a little easier when baby makes their grand entrance.
The softening of these ligaments can put extra pressure on your back, which feels like lower back pain.
14. Weight gain
That’s right, you can start putting on weight as an early symptom of pregnancy ‒ although typically not that much.
Generally, you can expect to put on 1-2 pounds in the 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy.
But since our bodies fluctuate by anywhere from 1-6 pounds every day, thanks to eating habits, water retention, exercise, and (ahem) bathroom visits throughout the day, it’s easy to miss this added weight.
Feeling lightheaded? It could be yet another early sign of pregnancy.
Thanks again to raging hormones getting things ready to grow, deliver, and look after a baby, you may feel a little faint in early pregnancy.
If you start to feel dizzy, try sitting or lying down slowly and sipping cold water.
But if you feel lightheaded regularly, it’s worth checking in with your doctor, just in case.
16. Increased heart rate or palpitations
Your body’s got a baby to build, so that’s going to take a lot of effort ‒ and it’s going to need more oxygen to do that.
That’s why another early pregnancy symptom is an elevated resting heart rate.
Not just a little, either ‒ by around 30-50%!
But if you’re at all worried about your increased heart rate or palpitations, check in with your doctor.
17. Blocked nose and congestion
Yes, we know we just said oxygen was important for growing a baby, but now your early pregnancy body is blocking your nose? Seriously?
This early pregnancy sign is called pregnancy rhinitis and is the result of increased blood flow to the nasal passages and your nasal veins getting bigger.
Unfortunately, most over-the-counter nasal medications for congestion won’t work on pregnancy rhinitis, so staying hydrated, using a humidifier, raising your head while sleeping, and exercising are the key here.
18. Metallic taste
One of the more unusual early signs of pregnancy, having a metallic taste in your mouth while pregnant is called dysgeusia.
Thankfully, this early pregnancy symptom tends to go away at the start of the second trimester.
But why does this happen? You guessed it: hormones.
How soon do early pregnancy symptoms start?
So when do pregnancy symptoms start?
It depends! Every pregnancy journey is different, every pregnant body is different, and every baby you grow is different.
Some of our mamas-to-be said they felt early pregnancy symptoms mere days after conceiving, while others say they had no symptoms at all until their missed period.
And some still get their periods during pregnancy, with no sign at all ‒ a cryptic pregnancy.
Can you feel pregnant after 2 days?
What about feeling those first signs of pregnancy 2 days after conception?
It is possible, yes, although it’s not all that common.
Can you feel a pregnancy after 3 days?
Is it possible to feel the earliest signs of pregnancy 3 days after having sex?
Yup, stranger things have happened ‒ although, again, it doesn’t happen very often.
Can you feel pregnant after 4 days?
How about getting the first symptoms of pregnancy 4 days after conception?
Again, it’s possible, but pretty rare.
Can you feel pregnant after 5 days?
This is where a few more people start to notice the first symptoms of pregnancy ‒ 5 days after conception.
However, don’t fret if you have no symptoms, as it can still be too early to tell.
How can I tell if I’m pregnant after 1 week?
Sorry to say, but if you’re looking for definitive very early signs of pregnancy after 1 week, they don’t really exist.
The only definite way to tell if you’re pregnant is to wait until 2 weeks after your peak ovulation date, around when your period is due to start (known as the Two-Week Wait), and to take a pregnancy test.
🔎 Dig deeper: Are There Early Signs of Twin Pregnancy in the First 2 Weeks?
What to do after spotting early pregnancy signs
How long after I notice early pregnancy symptoms can I take a pregnancy test?
Well, it’s not as long as you might think…
Most mamas-to-be get their positive result on a home pregnancy test (HPT) two weeks after their ovulation date.
This is because HPTs measure levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, which only shows in urine from around 6 to 12 days after fertilization, and gets high enough to detect easily after a missed period.
If you can’t wait until then, some home HPTs promise 60% to 75% accuracy 4 to 5 days before your period.
During a missed period, it becomes 90%; another week and it’s 99%.
It’s comforting for some TTC couples to know that false negatives are more common than false positives.
So a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not pregnant.
You can always try again with a new test a few days later, and see if the results have changed.
What if I don’t have any early pregnancy symptoms while TTC?
Many women never feel any of these early pregnancy symptoms.
If they do not affect you, do not give up hope that you could be pregnant because a pregnancy test will be best able to give you a definitive answer.
If you believe you may be pregnant, be sure to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN or midwife as soon as possible.
It may take a few weeks before you can get your appointment, but early prenatal care is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
It can be exciting to experience some of these early pregnancy symptoms.
At Peanut, we are here for you throughout every step of your pregnancy journey.
We know that you are probably feeling a bit anxious and incredibly excited as you wonder whether you’re experiencing early signs of pregnancy or not.
Whenever you need to discuss your concerns, ask a question, or share your joy, our community of like-minded women is here for you.