10 Very Early Pregnancy Symptoms You Might Miss
If you’re looking for the earliest warning signs that you’re expecting, these are the signs that will tell you the stork is on the way.
Foods that you love might start tasting weird
Everyone has their favorite dishes that they eat on a weekly basis. So if pizza starts tasting like poison, or if you develop a weird craving for sardines, you could be pregnant. “Both times I was pregnant, salad was suddenly disgusting. And I love salad,” says Monica Marino, a Queens, New York, mother of two.
It can even happen with coffee. Pittsburgh mom Alexandra Conlon Waltemeyer shared that her first sign that she was pregnant was coffee tasting weird: “Like, totally awful. I was a coffee-all-day kind of person at the time. This happened about a week before I missed my period.”
So what’s going on? “With blood flow up hormones on the rise, pregnancy can fuel shocking aversions to certain foods women once loved, and yearnings at all hours of the day and night for foods they may have once considered off limits,” says nurse practitioner and mid-wife Risa Klein.
Craving things that aren’t food
Karen Castellanos Angustia, a Brooklyn, New York mother of four, had pica syndrome—a condition in which people crave non-nutritious, non-food substances like dirt or chalk. With her first pregnancy, Angustia found herself suddenly wanting chalky substances like baby powder; since then, every time the cravings came on, she knew she was pregnant again. “Sometimes when a pregnant woman has pica syndrome, she is low in iron,” she says. “I had anemia in every pregnancy. I literally wanted to chew on gritty things like dirt, chalk, and baby powder. My first pregnancy, I thought I was going insane wanting to eat the baby powder and I actually had to consciously say to myself do not eat the baby powder. I finally let my doctor know and he explained it.”
“Some researchers speculate pica cravings may be due to a lack of nutrients or iron deficiency, while others believe it’s a desire to eat food with a unique texture, such as dirt or chalk,” says Kathryn Smerling, PhD, a psychotherapist. “If you’re experiencing pica, don’t delay visiting your doctor—you should be tested for deficiencies immediately.” Here’s the science behind those weird cravings.
This is one all too familiar to newly pregnant women. Heather Wilson Tomoyasu, who lives in Brooklyn with her three kids (two are twins), experienced nausea very early on, and it was how she recognized her second pregnancy, “I started getting waves of nausea while out with my family. It was several days before my next period, so I joked about being preggo to my hubby. It was so early that we laughed it off,” she says. “But I couldn’t shake it from my head and ran to Rite Aid to get the test. Both lines developed clearly within a few seconds, which is odd for that early in the pregnancy. My ultrasound three weeks later explained it… twins!!”
Many women think morning sickness starts later in the first trimester, but Smerling says nausea can kick in earlier. “Morning sickness affects 70-85 percent of pregnant women,” she notes.
Dr. Smerling says that women can experience crushing fatigue early on in their pregnancy. “Women may notice this as early as a week after conception. You’ll feel sluggish due to the increase in blood volume, which causes your heart to work harder.”
For Amanda Benins Potter, who lives in Ohio and has two children, the exhaustion was brutal. “I had awful headaches. My fatigue caused me to pass out immediately after getting home from work and I would sleep until my husband woke me up for dinner. Then I would pass right back out,” she says. Find out about the weird hair and skin changes that happen during pregnancy, too.
A constant need to pee
If you find yourself running to the bathroom all day long, you may be expecting. Smerling says this is completely normal and that it happens because “your kidneys are working overtime to filter the extra fluids in the body.” According to Klein, “The uterus rises out of the pelvis and into the abdominal cavity after 12 weeks and the pressure subsides. Try doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor.”
Another early pregnancy symptom is bloating. “Because of an increase in the hormone progesterone, you may not be showing yet, but you’ll certainly begin to notice your belly feeling softer and fuller,” says Smerling.
Engorged breasts can happen months before you deliver—for many women, the swelling occurs before their first missed period. Candice Kilpatrick Brathwaite, who has two children, reports that: “I was living in Laos and riding in a motorbike taxi a lot. My boobs were bouncing everywhere on the dirt roads and I don’t (normally) have big boobs. That is the first sign I noticed.”
Smerling says that “not only will your breasts feel noticeably fuller, your nipples will feel more sensitive and the skin surrounding them might enlarge and change color. Your hormones are encouraging the growth of milk-producing glands in the breasts.” Check out the 9 reasons you might miss your period that have nothing to do with being pregnant.
“You may find yourself on edge over things that normally wouldn’t bother you,” says Shelly Ismail, who has three children. “It can feel like an emotional roller coaster throughout your first trimester. I think this was due to changes in my hormone levels.” Changeable moods were a dead giveaway for Ismail. “I knew when I would go from extra chipper to super sad in a matter of minutes,” she said.
“With two of my three children, I had really bad cramping at the very beginning of pregnancy and just knew something was off,” says Natalie McCune, an Ohio mother of three. “It wasn’t like period cramps, it was different and signaled to me that I needed to take a pregnancy test. I was right both times!”
Smerling says this is definitely one of the early pregnancy symptoms. “Stomach cramping—but not like PMS cramps—can be an early indication of pregnancy. It’s also due to the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, which increases blood flow to the pelvic region.” Don’t miss these surprising facts about fertility that your doctor wants you to know.
“Despite having an IUD, I am very wary of random rashes and itching. Those are my telltale sign that a baby is coming,” says Valerie Pierre-Cadet, a mother of two who lives in Brooklyn, New York. “With my second child, I knew I was pregnant because I suffer from PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy). I didn’t know about it with my first. I thought it was mosquitoes or a reaction to food or detergent or, worse, bed bugs. When I started breaking out with a terrible itch, I knew I was pregnant for the second time.”
Many women have never even heard of PUPPP, yet it can be one of the earliest pregnancy signs. Klein says, “PUPPP is the most common skin dermatosis of pregnancy. It’s most common with first pregnancies,” she says. Next, find out the pregnancy myths you can safely ignore.