Early Pregnancy Symptoms You Need to Know About

A woman laying on her side touching her pregnant belly

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For most people, the first sign of pregnancy is a missed period, followed by a positive pregnancy test soon after. During early pregnancy, many of the symptoms you experience are caused by a flood of pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). These hormones impact almost every organ in your body and can sometimes cause uncomfortable symptoms.

Early pregnancy symptoms include fatigue, sore breasts, nausea, and food aversions. However, everyone is different. The intensity and timing of early symptoms vary from one pregnant person to another. And some people have barely any symptoms at all, which is also normal.

Here are the most common early pregnancy symptoms, why they happen, and what you can do to relieve them.

Morning Sickness

 The term “morning sickness” is a bit of a misnomer, because the nausea of early pregnancy isn’t just confined to the morning hours. Up to 70% of pregnant people experience nausea in the first trimester, and symptoms may also include vomiting. Indigestion and heartburn are also common digestive woes experienced in early pregnancy.

Experts aren’t completely sure what causes morning sickness, but it’s likely connected to the surge of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which peaks at the same time that morning sickness tends to be at its worst. The good news is that for most people, morning sickness subsides by the second trimester or around 13-14 weeks.

 Common remedies for morning sickness include:

  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Eating more bland foods
  • Making sure to eat protein with each meal
  • Eating foods, drinks, and sucking candies made with ginger
  • Staying away from smells that make you feel ill

Mood Swings

The deluge of hormones during early pregnancy can intensify your feelings. It’s common to feel joyous one minute and weepy the next. Adjusting to the idea of being pregnant may also contribute to those mood swings. It’s important to note that it’s normal to have conflicting feelings about your pregnancy.

However, some people experience extreme mood swings that can make it difficult to function. Perinatal depression (depression during or after pregnancy) is a real thing, and treatment is available. If you are feeling that way, you are not alone: please reach out to your healthcare provider to share how you are feeling.

Frequent Urination

Many pregnant people find themselves needing to pee quite often, even in early pregnancy. Frequent urination occurs because your blood volume increases in early pregnancy, and your kidney has more fluids to filter and process. 

Urinary frequency will increase even more as your pregnancy progresses and the weight of your growing uterus presses against your bladder. Staying hydrated is important, so don’t decrease your fluid intake. Your best bet is to make sure you are near a bathroom as often as possible during pregnancy.

Weight Gain or Loss

Most weight gain during pregnancy happens after the first trimester. Generally speaking, pregnant people gain about 2-5 pounds during the first trimester, and about 1 pound a week after that. But everyone is different, and people of varying sizes can have healthy pregnancies.

The main thing to focus on is eating a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy. This includes consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends focusing on foods that are rich in folic acid, iron, Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamin D.

If you are experiencing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, you may not gain much weight during early pregnancy. However, if you find that you are losing weight due to vomiting, it’s important that you speak to your healthcare provider. Severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum) may require IV fluids and medication to control vomiting.


The hormones of pregnancy can cause the bowels to slow down, resulting in constipation. As time goes on, the pressure of your expanding uterus can make it difficult to pass stool. Symptoms of constipation include less frequent pooping, straining during pooping, and pain. There’s hope, though. Making sure to stay hydrated, eating fiber frequently, and doing light exercise can help. Talk to your healthcare provider if constipation becomes an ongoing problem for you.

Swollen and Tender Breasts

One of the first bodily changes you may notice is changes to your breasts. That’s because starting in early pregnancy, your body is preparing your breasts for the act of breastfeeding and milk-making. This can cause very sore, tender breasts. 

You may also notice that your nipples look darker and that the veins around your breast darken. Wearing a supportive bra can help, but relief is in sight: breast tenderness should subside within a few weeks.

Extreme Tiredness

If you are feeling completely exhausted, you are not alone. Early pregnancy is an extremely tiring time. This is partly because of the fact that your body is doing a lot of work gestating your baby, but also due to the surge of the hormone progesterone, which can make people quite sleepy. If you are feeling extra tired, listen to your body and get some rest when possible. 


Seeing blood or spotting during early pregnancy can be scary. But it’s more common than you might think: about 15-25% of pregnant people experience bleeding or spotting in the first trimester. One main cause is implantation bleeding, which happens about a week after conception. The proliferation of extra blood vessels in your cervix can make bleeding more likely during the first trimester as well. You may be more likely to bleed after sex or after a pelvic exam.

Of course, sometimes spotting in early pregnancy can indicate something more serious. Reach out to your healthcare provider if you experience spotting or bleeding, along with cramping, pelvic or abdominal pain, or shoulder pain, as these may be signs of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy (where the fertilized egg is implanted in the fallopian tube).

Food Cravings

One strange phenomenon of early pregnancy is that you may suddenly start craving foods that you don’t normally crave. Not only that, but you may have severe aversions to foods that you usually like. Everyone is different and the cravings are often unique. Common cravings include sweet food or high carb foods, animal products, and fruit. Often, these cravings are confined to early pregnancy, but they can sometimes last throughout your pregnancy.

Aches and Pains

While aches and pains are most common as your pregnancy progresses and the uterus puts pressure on your ligaments and muscles, many pregnant people experience lower back aches in early pregnancy. You can blame those hormones again, as the hormones of pregnancy cause your ligaments to relax and soften, which can strain your back muscles. Headaches are also common in early pregnancy, likely due to rising hormones as well as the increase in blood volume that takes place in those first few weeks of pregnancy.

Hot water bottles and heating pads can help with back pain, as can exercise and stretching. If your back or headache pain is severe, get in touch with your healthcare provider. They may be able to recommend some pregnancy-safe medication to ease your symptoms.

How Early Can You Get Pregnancy Symptoms?

Everyone has different experiences during pregnancy, with some experiencing symptoms right after, or even before, a positive pregnancy test. But for others, it may take a few weeks to notice symptoms. 

The timing of early pregnancy symptoms may also vary based on the particular symptom. For example, sore breasts and fatigue may be experienced a week or two after conception, whereas nausea may be experienced a bit later, about 2-8 weeks after you’ve conceived.

A Quick Review

Early pregnancy symptoms can include extreme fatigue, nausea, weird food cravings, and tender,  heavy breasts. Some of the early symptoms of pregnancy can be challenging and make you feel super uncomfortable. Make sure that you take things a little slower and get the rest you need. Never hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your symptoms.

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13 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  6. American Pregnancy Association. Early signs of pregnancy.

  7. National Institute of Mental Health. Perinatal depression.

  8. South Dakota Department of Health. Healthy pregnancy weight gain.

  9. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Nutrition during pregnancy.

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