Early signs of pregnancy
- What are the early signs of pregnancy?
- Missed period
- Tender breasts
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes to your toilet schedule
- Changes to your sense of taste and smell
- Is spotting an early sign of pregnancy?
- Is discharge an early sign of pregnancy?
- What to do if you think you’re pregnant
- Taking a pregnancy test at home
- What to do if your pregnancy test is positive
Reviewed by our clinical team
If you’re trying to get pregnant, or you think you might be, it’s really helpful to know the early signs of pregnancy. Read on for our straightforward guide to spotting those symptoms, and what to do next.
What are the early signs of pregnancy?
If you have a regular cycle and you don’t get your period when you expect to, there’s a good chance you’re pregnant. In practical terms, this usually means that a week or longer has passed since your period was meant to start.
If you don’t have a regular cycle – i.e. the length of time between your periods varies a lot – then a missed period isn’t as good an indicator of pregnancy.
Many women find that their breasts become larger and more tender before they get their period – however, the same can also happen in early pregnancy! You might also notice that the veins in your breasts are more noticeable and that your nipples get darker.
Nausea and vomiting
We’ve all heard of morning sickness, but not everybody knows that it can affect you at any time of the day.
For most women who get morning sickness, the nausea and vomiting starts around one month in, at four to six weeks of being pregnant. However, some women might experience it earlier than that, while others will never experience it at all.
Extreme tiredness is a common symptom throughout pregnancy, but especially in the first 12 weeks.
Changes to your toilet schedule
During pregnancy, you might find that you need to urinate more often, including during the night. You might also find that you’re more constipated than usual.
Changes to your sense of taste and smell
Sometimes pregnancy can affect how and what we eat, because it causes a change to our senses of taste and smell. You might have a funny taste in your mouth, be more sensitive to cooking smells, or no longer like the taste or smell of your favourite foods. The flipside is that you might develop new cravings!
Is spotting an early sign of pregnancy?
As we’ve talked about, a missed period is usually the most obvious sign of early pregnancy. However, this symptom can be complicated by something called an “implantation bleed”. This is where the fertilised egg attaches to the lining of your womb, causing some light bleeding (spotting) as a result. It normally occurs 10 to 14 days after conception.
Not all women experience an implantation bleed, but if you do you might mistake it for the beginning of your period.
Is discharge an early sign of pregnancy?
It can be, yes! You might notice that you have more vaginal discharge than usual, however this shouldn’t be accompanied by any soreness or irritation.
Vaginal discharge that has a funny colour or consistency or a bad smell can be a sign of bacterial vaginosis, thrush or an STI. Learn more here: Types of vaginal discharge and what they mean.
What to do if you think you’re pregnant
If you’re experiencing the kinds of symptoms listed above and you think you might be pregnant, the first thing to do is take a pregnancy test. This is important whether or not you would want to continue with a pregnancy.
You can buy pregnancy tests from pharmacies and supermarkets, normally for about £5-£10 (for one or two tests). Alternatively, you can go to a contraception clinic or sexual health clinic for a free test – you might also be able to get one for free from your GP.
Taking a pregnancy test at home
Most at-home pregnancy tests are designed to be used on the first day of your missed period. Others are more sensitive and can detect pregnancy as early as eight days after conception. If you’re not sure which you should use, speak to your pharmacist.
- A positive result on a home pregnancy test is likely to be correct.
- A negative result is less likely to be accurate, so it’s normally advised that you wait a few days and take a second test. If your tests continue to come back negative but you still haven’t had your period, speak to your GP (3).
What to do if your pregnancy test is positive
Finding out that you’re pregnant might be wonderful news – or the exact opposite. If you want to continue with your pregnancy, you should contact your GP or a midwife to start your antenatal care.
If you’re not sure that you want to continue with pregnancy, you can speak to a doctor or nurse at your GP surgery or visit a contraception clinic for advice. You can get more advice about your options at the BPAS website.