When you’re hoping to be pregnant and you haven’t missed your period yet—or it’s a day or two late—it’s pretty easy to interpret nearly any physical symptom as a sign of pregnancy. It’s not uncommon to feel symptoms in the first week or two of your pregnancy—or even earlier. “Some women experience pregnancy symptoms from the moment of conception,” says Karen Nordahl, a general practitioner and obstetrician in Vancouver and co-author of Fit to Deliver. “Usually, this is second- or third-time moms who remember a particular sensation, such as increased gas.” But many first-time moms miss these early pregnancy signs because the very first symptoms aren’t necessarily the ones we associate with having a baby on the way. So, yes, while some women experience nausea or hypersensitivity to smells, these seven symptoms are among the most common during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Digestive changes are one of the most common early pregnancy signs, says Nordahl. If you feel a burning sensation in your chest after scarfing down your usual black coffee and egg-salad sandwich from the deli near your office, it might not be that the deli changed the recipe to include green onions or switched coffee brands; it could actually be pregnancy-related heartburn. One telltale sign of heartburn is that the burning sensation can feel worse when you bend over or lie down. It’s safe to reach for an antacid to relieve the burning, but also try to avoid certain foods, such as citrus fruits.
Before you start cursing your bra for suddenly feeling more like a contraption from the hardware store than the lacy lingerie that took a serious chunk out of your paycheque, consider that your newly sore boobs could be a sign that you’re pregnant. Breast tenderness is another common early pregnancy sign, according to Nordahl. For many women, what can make this symptom particularly confusing is that breast soreness is also a very common sign of your period. But early on in your pregnancy, your breasts may hurt because they’re expanding in preparation for producing milk.
Being gassy—or, less eloquently, “farty”—is no problem when you’re chillaxing alone in your threadbare sweatpants, but it’s next-level horrifying when you’re out and about anywhere else. Unfortunately, it’s one of the more common early pregnancy signs. Expect flatulence during not only the first few weeks of pregnancy but also the next nine months. Inevitably, your unruly gas will strike right in the middle of a work meeting or during a cool-down in your silent yoga class.
Can’t zip up those light-wash jeans that fit like a glove a few weeks ago? It could be that extra-large soda and popcorn you inhaled while transfixed on the onscreen hunk at the cinema last night, but it could also be a sign that you’re expecting. Like breast tenderness, abdominal bloating is a symptom that’s common before your period, making it hard to tell apart from monthly premenstrual symptoms. The usual tactic to fight extra bloating and constipation is to ease up on excess salt and stay hydrated with water, both of which are good habits, whether you’re pregnant or not. But you might also want to buy a pregnancy test.
Pelvic cramping as an early pregnancy sign? Yep, it can be, according to Nordahl. That might seem counterintuitive, as cramps are super-typical symptoms of Aunt Flow. You were probably hoping that being pregnant meant you could kiss cramps goodbye, but sadly that’s not the case. Light cramps can be caused by early pregnancy hormonal shifts and implantation of the fertilized egg on your uterine lining.
The unusual sensation of feeling “full” is yet another early symptom of pregnancy. “Fullness can be experienced before a period is missed, but a first-time mom may miss it,” says Nordahl. “A second- or third-time mom may pick up on it right away, especially if she is actively trying to conceive.” If you’re getting a feeling of déjà vu from previous pregnancies that you’re experiencing at the gut level (literally), congrats, you could be preggo!
Well, duh, of course a missed period is the most common of early pregnancy signs. For many women who haven’t been pregnant before, this is usually the first symptom they notice, explains Nordahl. But hindsight is often 20/20. “A first-time mom usually thinks back and realizes that a few things were different but wasn’t sure what they meant,” she says.