How early is too early to find out whether you’re pregnant? Most over-the-counter pregnancy test manufacturers recommend waiting until you’ve missed your expected period before peeing on that stick — and that wait can feel like it takes forever. I know, I’ve been through it.
I remember the day I realised I was pregnant with my son and it was before I could have gotten accurate results from a home pregnancy test. My husband and I were travelling, and I didn’t feel quite right during the plane ride to our destination. By the time we checked into our hotel, I was racing to the bathroom to pee for about the 20th time that day. It was then that I discovered some spotting. Even though I could have mistaken the blood as my period coming early, I just knew it was a sign that I was pregnant (known as implantation bleeding). We had been TTCing and charting, so I knew my body well at that point.
A few days later, we flew home and it was finally time to take a pregnancy test. It was positive, as I had suspected it would be, and I cried many happy tears.
In addition to implantation bleeding, there are many early signs of pregnancy that can occur almost immediately after you get pregnant. You’ve probably heard about common signs like tender breasts, exhaustion, and leukorrhea (a milky white vaginal discharge). But, there are also some lesser known symptoms that can signal you’re pregnant, like these…
1. Acne overdrive
Lots of people swear that pregnant women’s complexions glow from within, but not everyone is given the gift of clear skin. The big surge in hormones can cause massive PMS-like breakouts on your face, chest, and back.
2. Bladder infections
Hormones change all sorts of goings-on in your body right away, including what’s happening in your urinary tract. This makes you much more prone to infections.
Heavy spotting or light bleeding, like I experienced, can be due to the implantation of a fertilised egg in your uterus — not your period. “People think that if you have bleeding you cannot be pregnant,” says Dr Serena H. Chen. “However, when a patient has bleeding that is not completely normal, the first thing doctors think is, ‘Could she be pregnant?’”
4. Pooping problems
Even if you’ve never have issues with your morning routine, once you’re pregnant you can experience constipation, diarrhoea, and even irritable bowel syndrome due to changes in hormones and diet (nausea, another sign, may make it difficult to consume the fibre-rich veggies and cereal that you usually eat). It might not be fun, but it’s good news — right?
5. Menstrual cramps
You think that your body is getting ready for your period to begin, but the opposite is actually going on: Your uterus isn’t contracting to shed, it’s expanding to make more room for your baby.
6. Migraine relief
That’s right: You may actually find that pregnancy relieves these brutal headaches, as well as the associated vision troubles and nausea that usually come with them. On the flip side, the hormonal changes that can help a regular migraine sufferer feel some relief can also increase the frequency of headaches or migraines.
7. All-day nausea/vomiting
Yes, there’s your typical morning sickness that starts around 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy and peaks at 9 to 13 weeks, but we’re talking about distinct changes in appetite and the ability to keep food down even before you get that extra pink line on a home pregnancy test. Some women experience extreme morning sickness called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), and it can begin before a missed period. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting that causes rapid weight loss, confusion, dehydration, waxy skin, ketosis, and extreme fatigue. (If you suspect you are suffering from HG, call your doctor right away.)
8. Frequent peeing
Of course, the third trimester bump makes bladder urgency so very urgent, but the dramatic increase in pee frequency can begin from the get-go: Your blood circulation has already increased, your uterus is growing, and the hormones are a-surging.
9. Purplish vulva
If you take a peek down there using a mirror, you might see something surprising: An increase in blood flow to your pelvis can give your vagina, labia and cervix a bluish, almost purple, hue called Chadwick’s Sign. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal and not at all harmful.
10. Acute sense of smell
Convinced that your husband bathed in cologne this morning? Think a wild animal MUST have somehow crawled into your refrigerator and died? You might just be pregnant, according to Dr Amy Picklesimer, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist in private practice. Your olfactory system can get knocked into overdrive very quickly after you get pregnant.
11. Signs? What signs?
Dr Picklesimer just might have the most surprising symptom yet: “Some women don’t feel any different at all.” That’s right. No sign at all can, in fact, mean something is definitely up!
More good news for pregnancy:
- How to conceive a girl
- 31 things every couple should do before having a baby
- My top 5 pregnancy sanity-savers
Graphic: Kim Bongiorno