You’ve been working hard to ace your next pregnancy test, and you can’t wait to see the results. You confirmed you ovulated this cycle with an ovulation test kit, and while you’re waiting (not so patiently) during those days before your first missed period, you’ll probably be watching like a hawk for any signs of pregnancy.
The tricky part? Many of the early signs of pregnancy could signal something else. “There really is not a single symptom that is 100% pregnancy associated only,” says Marra Francis, MD, FACOG, executive medical director at EverlyWell. “Every pregnancy symptom can have another cause: lack of menstrual cycle can be a hormonal imbalance, weight gain can be hormonal or lifestyle; sore breasts can be from an estrogen producing ovarian cyst.”
The bottom line? Until you see that double line on your pregnancy test, take these symptoms as a sign of hope, but not the gospel truth. (Though we’ll have our fingers crossed for you!) Take all of this with a grain of salt.
Tenderness in the breasts is one of the very first signs of pregnancy, Dr. Francis says. However, don’t forget that sore breasts are also common when you have PMS—so it could be signaling the opposite. Confusing, we know.
You might get a little breakthrough bleeding when the fertilized egg implants in your uterus, about six to 12 days after you’ve ovulated.
Implantation could lead to abdominal cramping or even a pinching sensation, which would occur around the same time as the spotting.
Bloating and constipation
You can thank those surging levels of progesterone for slowing down the muscles in your digestive system, leading to gassiness, bloating, and constipation. (It’s probably a good time to start boosting your fiber and fluid intake—stat.)
Your body is expending a lot of energy to support your pregnancy, and that, coupled with the surging pregnancy hormones, can make you feel sleepy. But remember, just because you could use a nap today does not necessarily mean you’re pregnant.
Nausea and vomiting
As you start to hit the time when a pregnancy test would work, your levels of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) may be high enough to make some feel a bit queasy. Remember, too, that morning sickness can happen ALL. DAY. LONG. So if you’re feeling nauseated only at night, that doesn’t necessarily mean that something else is the cause.
Strange but true—pregnancy could make your vagina change color to a bluish-purple, according to Dr. Francis. (That’s called Chadwick’s sign.)
If your cups suddenly runneth over, that could be one of the first signs that you’re expecting.
Frequent urge to pee
Your baby may be teeny-tiny, but he or she’s already causing some changes in your uterus that may press it onto your bladder—which means you might be visiting the bathroom a lot more often.
This is the gold standard of pregnancy signs—and the hint that you should probably take a pregnancy test.
When to see your doctor
If you’re in the midst of fertility treatments, you probably already have an appointment on the books with your reproductive endocrinologist for two weeks afterward to see if treatment worked. If it did work, you may stay with your reproductive endocrinologist for early pregnancy monitoring and transition to an OB/GYN once you’re eight to 12 weeks pregnant.)
We know how hard it is to be patient when you’re waiting to know if you’re finally pregnant—but hopefully these symptoms provide a glimmer of hope before you even get that plus sign on your pregnancy test.