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Trying to conceive

15 signs of being pregnant

Not sure if you're pregnant? We've rounded up the most common signs of being pregnant to see if it's time to pee on that stick.

By Natalie Locke Milne
15 signs of being pregnant

Photo: iStock

The only real ways to know if you're pregnant are pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, but how would you even know you need one? You probably know that a missed period can indicate that you're pregnant, but there's a whole range of changes your body goes through after conception.

Most of these changes are pretty noticeable, but others are subtle enough that you may not even suspect pregnancy is the cause until a bunch of them happen together.

Swollen and tender breasts

Soreness or tingling in breasts is one of the most common signs of being pregnant. Early in pregnancy breasts will fill out and change shape as they prepare to produce milk. Breasts may become very tender and sensitive for a few months as a result. But, Teresa Pitman, doula and lactation expert, notes: “that not all women experience these changes, especially if they have been on birth control pills.”

It is possible to know you're pregnant in those first few weeks—some women even "know" from the moment of conception. Here are the very earliest signs of being pregnant, that you might not notice.

Breast cancer self check. Woman healthy lifestyle medical awareness. dragana991/ Getty Images

Darkening areolas

For many women, hormones can cause the areolas, the circles around nipples, to widen and darken during pregnancy. This occurs as the body prepares itself for breastfeeding. Usually, this process is gradual and will continue throughout your pregnancy, though some people do experience it much earlier.

After breastfeeding, the areolas should become lighter, but they may never be quite the same shade as they were before pregnancy.

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Spotting

About five to 10 days after conception, some women notice light spotting when the embryo implants in the uterus. So if you've had a light period this month, you might still be carrying a little bundle of joy—psst, here's what you need to know about home pregnancy tests, including when it's best to take one.

Home pregnancy tests check for a certain level of pregnancy hormone in your urine. This hormone comes from a bunch of cells that surround the implanted embryo. That means that if you take a test before implantation—AKA before your missed period—you're more likely to get a false negative. Take the test in the morning a day or two after a missed or light period for the most accurate results.

woman desperate for the loo, Peter / Getty Images

Urinary frequency or constipation

During pregnancy, you might find yourself urinating more and more. In the early stages, your body produces more blood, causing the kidneys to process extra fluid that ends up in your bladder. Of course, more fluid in the bladder means more trips to the bathroom.

That's not the only factor! When you're pregnant, your uterus presses directly on the bladder leading to more frequent urination. The added pressure and intestinal changes may also cause constipation. Of course, the more a baby grows, the more the uterus presses against the bladder and other organs.

Woman sitting on the toilet holding toilet paper in her hands Demkat/ Getty Images

Fatigue

Feeling very tired is one of the first and most common signs of being pregnant (it takes lots of energy to create a baby!). If you are pregnant, chances are you'll start to feel less tired around week 12, when the placenta is fully formed.

Nobody really knows why we feel so sleepy in the first trimester. Some experts think it's due to higher levels of progesterone, but they still need to confirm this theory.

Tired woman sleeping on the table in the kitchen at breakfast. Trying to drink morning coffee morgan23/ Getty Images

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Nausea

Nausea is one of the most common symptoms of being pregnant. It's caused by an increase in hormone levels (about 80 percent of women experience "morning sickness" during the first 3 months of pregnancy). For many, morning sickness isn't confined to the morning—some feel it all day long. Some people feel the need to vomit when the waves of nausea hit, while others do not.

Side View Of Woman Vomiting In Bathroom At Home Piotr Marcinski / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Smell Sensitivity

As strange as it might sound, all of the hormonal changes your body goes through during pregnancy have the additional effect of granting you a superpower: smell sensitivity. Though there's not much scientific research available on this topic, many people report being much more sensitive to various odors while pregnant.

Because your nose becomes more powerful, scents that were never a problem before may become less pleasing or even trigger nausea.

 woman wearing yellow sweater at kitchen smelling something stinky and disgusting, intolerable smell, holding breath with fingers on nose. Bad smells concept. AaronAmat/ Getty Images

Elevated basal temperature

If you’ve been tracking your basal temperature, a positive sign of being pregnant is an increase of about one degree that lasts for more than two weeks after the "dip" in temperature that indicates ovulation.

Though one degree doesn't sound like much, you may be more sensitive to increases in temperature. Be careful while exercising, and make sure to drink plenty of water, especially if it's hot outside.

Exhausted young woman suffering from heatstroke flat without air-conditioner, waving blue fan, sitting on couch at home, working on laptop computer. Dima Berlin/ Getty Images

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Missing period

The most obvious pregnancy sign is a missed period, but a missed period doesn't always mean a baby is on the way. Stress, diet, or an irregular schedule can also be the culprits, so it's best to get tested before making the big announcement.

Beyond that, some people just have naturally irregular cycles, and it could turn out that they simply skipped a period.

Young blonde woman holding heart calendar checking the time on wrist watch, relaxed and confident AaronAmat/ Getty Images

Unusual hunger or cravings

If you've ever talked to someone who's pregnant, they've probably brought up having some of the strangest food cravings. Pregnant bodies are working hard to grow that baby and need about 300 extra calories a day. Some women find themselves craving food they would never normally dream of eating, while others simply feel hungry all day long.

On the other hand, it's possible to develop new aversions to food that you previously enjoyed. These new cravings and aversions may last through the entire pregnancy or come and go in waves.

Woman squirting donut with ketchup and mustard Martin Leigh/ Getty Images

Headaches

The frequency of migraine headaches can increase with pregnancy. Many women who get hormonal migraine headaches find they get more of them, especially early in pregnancy, explains Pitman. However, some people have the opposite experience and actually get a little reprieve from migraines while expecting.

This is all thanks to the various changes and surging hormone levels a pregnant body experiences.

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Mood swings

Many women experience emotional mood swings throughout pregnancy. It's natural to go through a variety of emotions as hormones are adjusting and the body is changing.

Some of the hormones that pregnancy messes with are neurotransmitters in the brain. This means that you may have more extreme highs and lows or shift dramatically from happiness to depression and anxiety. These changes are normal, but if you're experiencing depression and need help, reach out to a healthcare provider you trust.

Portrait of pensive woman sitting at table in the kitchen Westend61/ Getty Images

Feeling faint or dizzy

Shifting hormones, combined with the heart beating faster to pump more blood through the body, can cause blood pressure to gradually decrease early in pregnancy. As a result, many women experience periods of dizziness or feeling lightheaded.

Plus, your body is rapidly adapting to changes in your metabolism, so your blood sugar levels may dip. If you have a history of anemia or varicose veins, you're more susceptible to dizziness.

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Metallic taste in your mouth

Some women complain of an odd "metallic" taste in their mouths during pregnancy. While there is no scientific explanation for this symptom, for some, it can last throughout the entire pregnancy.

Make sure to practice good oral hygiene to help freshen the taste in your mouth. Additionally, spicy or tart foods may overpower and offset the bitter, metallic taste. Some people also find that eating with plastic or wooden utensils helps.

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Vivid dreams

Dreams during pregnancy often intensify. So if your dreamin' has become more dramatic, this could be a pregnancy sign. (Thank your surging hormones for this one!) What this actually means varies from person to person.

Some people get to have more frequent dreams that they remember more clearly, while others get nothing but nightmares and anxiety-based dreams. If your dreams are bothering you, try different sleeping positions, stay on a consistent sleep schedule, and start a dream journal to help you process your thoughts.

Please see a medical professional if you believe you are pregnant.

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Related links: 5 reasons you're not getting pregnant
Best sex positions for getting pregnant

This article was originally published on Oct 15, 2018

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