Symptoms in Early Pregnancy: What’s Normal, What’s Not

Whether you are trying to get pregnant or not, you may be looking for signs of pregnancy before you have actually missed your period. Interestingly enough, the symptoms associated with early pregnancy can be very similar to what you experience before or during your period.

The most common symptoms women report in very early pregnancy are:

  • Breast enlargement and/or tenderness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Increase in urinary frequency
  • Missed period

Additionally, some women may have mild cramping, constipation, heartburn, mood changes, dizziness, and even light spotting or brown discharge.

If you are feeling these symptoms, the most accurate way to self-diagnose a pregnancy is to take a home pregnancy test, which can be done up to five days before your missed period. Test yourself first thing in the morning. The closer you test to when you expect your period, the more accurate the results will be. 

If your pregnancy test is positive, make an appointment with your OB/GYN or midwife for your initial prenatal visit. If your test was negative, but you continue with symptoms and still have not had a period, retest in one week. If the is still negative and you still haven’t had your period, call for an exam.

Due to hormonal and physical changes, those early pregnancy symptoms may continue throughout pregnancy, at times improving or sometimes even worsening.

Many women want to know what symptoms may be of concern, and when they should call their provider.

Here’s our advice on when to call:

Vaginal bleeding: Spotting may be harmless, but you should still report it to your provider. Bleeding that is accompanied by pain may be caused by an ectopic pregnancy or be due to a miscarriage.

Nausea/vomiting: Both nausea and vomiting are very common in early pregnancy, and for some women may persist throughout. However, if you are unable to hold down fluids or food, are losing weight, or are unable to function in your daily life, you should be evaluated by a provider for a potential pregnancy-related condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum, or a possible infection.

Urinary concerns: Many pregnant women urinate frequently, even in early pregnancy. If you’re urinating frequently and also experience blood in the urine, pain with urination, fever or lower back pain, call your provider. An evaluation must be done to rule out both a bladder and/or kidney infection.

Chest pain: Call your provider right away. This may be related to a blood clot or cardiac arrhythmia and must be evaluated promptly.

Lightheadedness: Pregnant women may often find themselves feeling dizzy when going from seated or lying to a standing position. Take your time when rising, and drink plenty of fluids. If the lightheadedness persists even after lying on your left side, or it is accompanied by heart palpitations or chest pain, call your provider.

Severe pelvic pain: As your belly grows, the round ligaments that are attached to your uterus can begin to cause pain, especially when twisting, bending, rolling, or exercising. If the pain is persistent and extreme, call your provider.

Needless to say, there are many changes that your body goes through during pregnancy. Although you may find many of them unusual, and likely even bothersome and uncomfortable at times, most are normal.

However, if you are concerned about a symptom that you are experiencing, you should always call your provider’s office to see if further evaluation is necessary. Peace of mind does a body wonders, and we are here to support you along this ever-changing journey!

To learn more about midwifery care at South Shore Health, click here.