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1. Prickling, tingling nipplesAs pregnancy hormones increase the blood supply to your breasts, you may feel a tingling sensation around your nipples (Blackburn 2013, Murray and Hassall 2014).
This can be one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy, and is sometimes noticeable within a week or so of conception. Once your body gets used to the hormone surge, this sensation will subside.
2. Spotting and crampingIt’s not uncommon to have some spotting at the time you’d usually have your period (Hasan et al 2010, Newson 2014). You may notice a slight pink or brown-coloured stain in your knickers, or when you wee, or feel slight cramping.
Experts aren’t sure why spotting in very early pregnancy happens. It’s thought either to be caused by the fertilised egg implanting in your womb (Crafter and Brewster 2014), or the hormones that control your periods kicking in.
If you have any bleeding that seems unusual, see your doctor to be on the safe side.
3. Feeling sickIf you’re lucky, you’ll escape nausea completely. However, morning sickness is a common symptom of early pregnancy (NHS 2015a). It often starts when you’re about six weeks pregnant, though it can start as early as four weeks (Murray and Hassall 2014).
You may feel sick and queasy, or even vomit. Despite the name, morning sickness can affect you at any time of the day, or night (NHS 2015a).
4. Tender, swollen breastsOnce you are about six weeks pregnant, your breasts may become increasingly sensitive (NHS 2016). It’s similar to how they feel before you have a period, but more so.
You may notice that your breasts are larger and swollen, with veins visible just below the skin. Tenderness tends to be most common in the first trimester, easing as pregnancy progresses.
5. Feeling tiredExhausted? You may find yourself diving for your duvet as your body cranks up to support your baby, right from the early stages of pregnancy (NHS 2016). Pregnancy hormones in your body are to blame, as these can make you feel tired, upset and emotional.
Though fatigue is not a sure-fire symptom on its own, it’s a common pregnancy one (Blackburn 2013). You may find that tiredness wipes you out the most in your first trimester and third trimester.
6. Needing to wee frequentlyFrom about six weeks of pregnancy, you may notice that you’re weeing more often (NHS 2015b, Rankin 2014).
This is down to a combination of pregnancy hormones, a larger volume of blood in your system, and your kidneys working extra hard.
If you feel pain or a burning sensation when you wee, though, you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI). See your doctor if you think you have a UTI.
7. Darker nipplesSkin changes are common during pregnancy. One of the first changes you may notice is the circle of skin round your nipples (areolas) getting darker (Murray and Hassall 2014). This can happen from about eight weeks.
You may also find that the bumps around your nipples become more pronounced, and your nipples more erect. Your vulva and vagina may change to a deeper, purplish red, too (Murray and Hassall 2014), though you probably won’t notice this!
8. Food cravings and altered sense of smellFood cravings can be a symptom of pregnancy. You’re more likely to go off certain flavours at first, though, possibly even before you’ve missed a period.
You may notice a metallic taste in your mouth, or find that you can’t face your morning coffee or a food you usually like, such as eggs (NHS 2016).
Your sense of smell may change as well, and you may become more sensitive to food or cooking smells.
Can cravings predict gender?
Find out if you can predict the sex of your baby based on the kind of foods you crave in pregnancy.More pregnancy videos
9. A missed periodIf you’re usually pretty regular, and your period doesn’t start on time, you’ll probably take a pregnancy test before you notice any other symptoms. A missed period is one of the surest symptoms of pregnancy (NHS 2016).
But if your periods are usually irregular, or you lose track of when your next one is due, you may not realise that your period is late. In this case, tender breasts, feeling queasy and making extra trips to the loo may be early clues that you’re pregnant.
10. The proof: a positive home pregnancy testMost home pregnancy tests will give you a reliable result if you wait until at least the first day of a missed period.
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Last reviewed: January 2017
Next review: January 2020
ReferencesBlackburn ST. 2013. The prenatal period and placental physiology. In: Maternal, Fetal and Neonatal Physiology. A clinical perspective. 4th ed. Oxford: Elsevier Saunders, 61-2
Crafter H, Brewster J. 2014. Common problems associated with early and advanced pregnancy. In: Marshall JE, Raynor MD. eds. Myles Textbook for Midwives. 16th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 222-42
Hasan R, Baird DD, Herring AH, et al. 2010. Patterns and predictors of vaginal bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy. Ann Epidemiol 20(7):524-31
Murray I, Hassall J. 2014. Change and adaptation in pregnancy. In: Marshall JE, Raynor MD. eds. Myles Textbook for Midwives. 16th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 143-77
Newson L. 2014. Early pregnancy signs and symptoms. Patient, Health information. patient.info [Accessed January 2017]
NHS. 2015a. Nausea and morning sickness. NHS Choices, Health A-Z. Pregnancy and baby. nhs.uk [Accessed January 2017]
NHS. 2015b. Common health problems in pregnancy. NHS Choices, Health A-Z. Pregnancy and baby. nhs.uk [Accessed January 2017]
NHS. 2016. Signs and symptoms of pregnancy. NHS Choices, Health A-Z. Pregnancy and baby. nhs.uk [Accessed January 2017]
Rankin J. 2014. The female urinary tract. In: Marshall JE, Raynor MD. eds. Myles Textbook for Midwives. 16th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 81-90