If you were to ask women actively trying to conceive what their biggest wish is at the time, it would be to fast forward the two week wait between the day of conceiving (or trying to conceive) and the day of the period.
And these two weeks don’t seem never-ending for women actively trying to conceive, the same holds true for women who had unprotected sex and are now hoping they have not conceived.
It’s an agonizing wait, to say the least ..
Just in case you’re asking yourself “why is it a two week wait, exactly?”, it’s because the majority of women ovulate two weeks before they get their period, and that’s the time to have sexual intercourse with the aim of conceiving.
Early Signs Of Pregnancy Before Missed Period
You don’t really have to wait until you miss your period to know that there’s a good chance that you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance that you’re already a few weeks in to a pregnancy by the time you miss your period.
Technically speaking, pregnancy happens when the egg becomes fertilized and is implanted in the uterus, which usually happens a long time before a missed period.
While most people rightfully consider a missed period to be the most obvious sign yet that a woman trying to conceive is indeed pregnant, the following list discusses some of the other most telling signs you could pick up on and get a hint from (besides your menstrual date) way before it’s time for a “visit from aunt Flo”.
Most women begin feeling some of these symptoms within one to two weeks after having conceived.
Note: Keep in mind that while these symptoms can be early signs of a pregnancy before you get a missed period, you may experience some (or many) of the symptoms mentioned in this list without necessarily being pregnant. These symptoms are signs of a pregnancy, but do not guarantee one.
During the very early stages of your pregnancy, you may think you’re starting to show even before you’ve got the chance to confirm that you’re pregnant by running a test or even just missing your period.
This is most often due to bloating caused by a surge in the levels of the hormone progesterone in your body, which leads to your digestive system functions slowing down and the process of breaking down food being halted1.
Changes in the lower abdominal area are also to blame for these problems and annoyances.
To minimize the chances of you experiencing bloating at any time during your pregnancy, experts advise you eat smaller (yet more frequent) meals throughout the day rather than eating larger (yet less frequent) meals that require much more work from your digestive system to handle all at once.
Also, a quick word of caution – prepare yourself for some nasty bouts of burping and farting too!
2) Breast Changes
Starting from the early stages of a pregnancy and all through the entire 9 months ahead, expect your breasts to go through a whole world of changes as your body experiences shifts in hormone levels.
The following list discusses some of the most common changes you could notice if you’re indeed pregnant, ones you may start noticing as early as one or two weeks after you’ve conceived2.
- Increase in breast size
- Breasts feel overall fuller and heavier than usual
- Pain in the breast area (especially on the sides)
- Pain and discomfort around your armpit areas
- Increase in size of areolas
- Increase in dark color of areolas
- Swelling in breasts
- Breasts become sore and tender to touch
Why do all of these changes happen to your breasts when you get pregnant, you ask? Well, levels of the hormone progesterone greatly increase in a woman’s body when she becomes pregnant, and breast tissue is known to be sensitive to this specific hormone.
Even when you’re not pregnant, increased levels of progesterone in your body shortly before you get your period is the main culprit behind breast pain and discomfort.
Constipation is just one of the many digestive system problems you’ll be experiencing during pregnancy, especially during the early stages and very possibly even before a missed period.
Increased levels of the hormone progesterone in your body often leads to slowing down the speed at which food passes through your digestive system, which causes constipation.
When the hormone progesterone moves from the intestine, this causes caffeine intolerance.
4) Caffeine Intolerance
If you’re used to taking in certain dosages of caffeine throughout the day without feeling much side effects, all of that might change and you could possibly notice that you’ve become much more sensitive to caffeine.
What you previously jugged down without blinking twice may now cause you to sweat excessively, shake, feel all jittery and anxious, and trigger nausea3.
If you’re lucky enough to not experience constipation during the earliest days of your pregnancy, you’re not done yet, there’s still one fireball you have to dodge first – and that’s diarrhea.
6) Decrease In Appetite
Throughout the entirety of your pregnancy, you can expect your appetite to take a hit at random times without you necessarily doing anything much to warrant it.
Many women even begin noticing a decrease in their appetite levels before their missed period.
With morning sickness and all the nausea and vomiting going on, it’s only normal for your appetite to take a dip.
7) Dizziness, Lightheadedness And Headaches
Blood vessels are known to widen and expand during pregnancy, which tends to cause dizziness and lightheadedness due to a decrease in blood pressure in the body4.
You’re also no longer getting all of your body’s supply of blood now, a significant portion of it is now being sent to your fetus.
If you notice frequent dizziness, lightheadedness and/or headaches along with other unusual symptoms that pop out of the blue, take note of them and talk to your doctor about them.
Sometimes, dizziness coupled with abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding can be a sign of something very serious, such as an ectopic pregnancy.
As for headaches, these are often caused by decrease in blood sugar levels during pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body, as well as the vessels in your head now being under increased stress due to changes in blood pressure levels.
8) Excessive Drooling
Even though not many women experience this symptom as much as some of the other signs of early pregnancy before a missed period mentioned in this list, excessive drooling can sometimes be a telling sign.
Many experts believe that this isn’t due to some physiological change in a woman’s body during pregnancy, but it’s rather due to heartburn and morning sickness a pregnant woman experiences5.
When you’re going through morning sickness and are experiencing high levels of nausea, and when you’re experiencing acid reflux, you don’t really feel like swallowing anything – be that food, water or even your own saliva at times. This leads to excessive liquid buildup in the mouth.
On the other hand, one of the body’s ways of combating heartburn and keeping it at bay is by increasing the production of saliva in order to balance out the excessive levels of acids in the body.
9) Food Aversions
Speaking about nausea and morning sickness during early pregnancy, you’ll also very likely experience food aversions during pregnancy, which could sometimes even begin before you miss your period.
Regardless of whether you do end up experiencing this before a missed period or not, you’re more than likely to experience it in your first trimester.
As a matter of fact, studies show that between 80%-85% of pregnant women experience some level of food aversion during their first trimester.
What used to be your absolute favorite foods that you would look so, so forward to eating, you could now very well not stand the least smell or taste of without becoming nauseous and running to the bathroom before it’s too late and you make a mess somewhere you don’t really want to clean up afterwards.
On the other hand, you could also possibly start looking forward to eating food you never used to like before. Ah, how pregnancy confuses the body and mind, don’t you just love it?
Can you take a wild guess why these food aversions happen during pregnancy? Yup, you guessed it, it’s these pesky progesterone levels doing their thing again.
Many women report that along with food aversions, they also begin to notice some sort of metallic taste in their mouth that sometimes comes and goes randomly, but other times sticks with them throughout the entire day.
Because metallic taste in the mouth is oftentimes associated with kidney failure, it would be a good idea for you to talk to your doctor about that and rule out any serious health conditions as such.
10) Feels Like You Have A Cold
If it feels like you’re down with a cold (but you’re not actually down with a cold), having the common symptoms like a runny nose, clogged up nostrils and an itchy, scratchy throat – this may just be one of the ways your body’s telling you that you’re pregnant6.
Experts relate this to the increased levels of estrogen in the body during early pregnancy which causes congestion, and the increased blood production in the body that often causes sinus swelling.
You also have excessive buildup of mucous to look forward to, or not … (sarcasm) since this will just make your nausea even worse off than it already is.
As your muscles loosen up to get ready for your pregnancy, one of these muscles is the sphincter muscle responsible for stopping acids in your stomach from reaching your throat. As this muscle loosens and becomes less effective at doing its job, you could begin experiencing acid reflux.
12) Implantation Bleeding And Implantation Cramping
You might experience implantation bleeding and/or implantation cramping around a week or two before your missed period.
Any implantation bleeding you do notice is almost always going to be light, a few drops of blood noticed here and there. By the time you can see spots from implantation bleeding, they’re likely to be brown in color.
Note from Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN: “This is because the blood is “old” and has turned brown before it reaches the outside of your body.”
Minimal spotting happens due to the cells burrowing into the walls of the womb.
If at any given time you notice heavy bleeding, talk to your doctor about it because this could be a sign of something more serious going on.
Heavy bleeding could just be you getting your period, but other times it could – unfortunately – signal a miscarriage.
As for implantation cramping, keep an eye out for this around the day you ovulate.
You’ll usually feel cramps and pains in your lower back area and/or on either side of your lower abdomen, depending on whether the eggs your body released during ovulation for that month were from the left tube or the right tube.
13) Improved Sense Of Smell
Sometimes, increased levels of the hormone estrogen in your body could mean that you’ll suddenly get a superman-like sense of smell out of the blue.
While you could think this is super cool, it most often isn’t and you’ll wish it wasn’t so – mainly because a lot of what you’ll now smell much easier is going to make you nauseous.
14) Increase In Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
An increase in basal body temperature (BBT) can be an accurate sign of pregnancy, much more accurate than some of the other signs at least, but on condition that it’s tracked properly.
For an increase in basal body temperature to be an accurate early sign of pregnancy before a missed period, you should be actively tracking your BBT levels on a daily basis for several months beforehand.
Keeping track of basal body temperatures on a daily basis for several months is what all serious ovulation trackers do to know when they’re ovulating and when it’s time for intercourse meant for them to conceive.
A woman’s basal body temperature is known to increase from anywhere between 0.4 to 1 degrees one to two days after ovulation. After your period comes to an end, it decreases to its normal levels again7.
However, and if you are indeed pregnant, your basal body temperature levels will remain elevated.
If you’re going to get into ovulation tracking, you don’t need anything too sophisticated that will cost you a fortune and eat into your budget all that much – there are tests that literally cost 1$ that could help you nail down your ovulation date.
15) Increase In Thirst
There’s a good chance that you’ll notice an increase in thirst levels because of the increase in blood volume that your body is now producing to keep up with your needs and those of your developing fetus.
It’s very important that you do NOT neglect this feeling in hopes that it will go away on its own, and that you drink all the water you need to quench your thirst levels and keep your body properly hydrated.
16) Increase In Urination Frequency
Before you miss your period, you may notice a sudden increase in the urge and frequency of your urination.
Many women notice an increase in the urge to pee especially around night time.
Experts credit this to the body’s increase in blood production to cater for the needs of the fetus, which ends up putting an increased blood-filtering workload on your kidneys.
And then, of course, there’s also the reasoning that with the increase in thirst and the amount of water you’re drinking in a day’s time, it’s only normal that you feel the urge to pee more than you usually do.
Also, as your uterus grows and expands to accommodate your baby, it increasingly presses against your bladder. So, even though you may be drinking the same amount of water and taking in the same amount of fluids a day, you’ll find that you can’t hold your bladder as much as before8.
Just be sure you don’t have a urinary tract infection that’s causing these more frequent than usual trips to the bathroom.
17) Lower Back Pain
Physical pain and discomfort is something you’ll have to get accustomed to throughout pregnancy, and it’s only ever going to get worse the more you progress through the months.
This is mainly due to your womb preparing to expand in size very soon to be able to accommodate the arriving baby’s needs.
If your lower back pain is excruciating and unbearable, to the extent you feel you absolutely need to take medication to deal with the pain, talk to your doctor about it.
The last thing you should do during a pregnancy is take medication on your own, especially any kind of pain killers. Let your doctor tell you what you can safely take to deal with the pain, and how much of it you can take without putting your health and that of the baby you’re carrying at any risk.
18) Mood Swings
Notice that you’re becoming edgy all of a sudden and are getting easily agitated over stuff you used to have all the patience for in the world before? Or that you’re experiencing mood swings that make themselves apparent out of the blue at the most random of times? One minute you’re laughing at a funny joke, and the next thing you know you’re crying 10 seconds later.
No, you’re not going crazy or losing your mind, it’s probably those nasty pregnancy hormones again!
Don’t underestimate the effect these hormonal changes have on your brain’s neurotransmitters during pregnancy, so cut yourself some slack and understand that you’re not alone in this.
This is quite similar to the mood swings and “emotional rollercoaster” we all often find ourselves going through during our menstrual cycles.
19) Nausea (Morning Sickness)
If there ever was a sign that women like to keep an eye out for to (almost) confirm they’re in the early stages of a pregnancy, it’s nausea.
And we’re not talking about just any kind of nausea, we’re talking about morning sickness specifically.
This is caused by a rapid increase in the levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) during the early stages of a pregnancy. If you’ve ever wondered how exactly pregnancy tests work and are able to confirm a woman’s pregnancy, it’s by detecting increased levels of this hormone in your urine.
Even though this condition is called “morning” sickness, it doesn’t specifically rear its ugly head only in the morning time. Morning sickness can be experienced during any time of day, sometimes even at night time9.
It’s just that the peak of the nausea and discomfort is usually felt during mornings.
Not all women begin experiencing nausea associated with morning sickness before a missed period, though. Many women don’t experience this until late into their pregnancy, sometimes not until the sixth or eight weeks.
20) Shortness Of Breath
With the shortage of oxygen levels in your body because you’re now sharing a significant portion of it with your growing embryo, you may notice that you’re now running out of breath faster than you normally do, even though you’re not doing any challenging physical activity to warrant it.
Word of caution: Get used to this because it’s only going to get worse as you progress into the later stages of your pregnancy and more oxygen has to be diverted to your growing baby.
Even though this is one of the less common symptoms pregnant women are likely to get before their missed periods, but around 25% of pregnant women experience thrush in their early pregnancy days because of increased levels of the hormone progesterone.
22) Unexplained Fatigue
Sometimes you might just feel tired and lethargic without doing anything that warrants it (i.e no excessive physical activity or demanding work done that day, you slept enough hours through the night, etc ..).
While it’s perfectly normal for you to start feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy in the week leading up to your period, it’s not normal for you to feel exhausted by doing the silliest of tasks that require minimal energy expenditure. The latter oftentimes signals a pregnancy.
This is often accredited to an increase in the levels of the hormone progesterone in the body during early pregnancy10.
There’s also the fact that your body now has to produce a higher amount of blood than before to be able to meet your growing fetus’s developmental needs.
This is just one of the many reasons why it’s extremely important that you consume a nutritious diet during pregnancy, starting from the very beginning.
All those minerals and vitamins you take in from healthy food (without taking excessive amounts, of course) will go a long way in keeping your energy levels up so that you can go through your day to day activities and responsibilities unscathed.
Also, and speaking of vitamins and minerals, take your prenatal vitamins on a daily basis and stick to schedule – no unnecessary skipping allowed unless there’s a valid reason for it!
Ensuring you remain properly hydrated through the day is also extremely important, since it could very well be dehydration that’s keeping you burned out and feeling lethargic.
The last thing you should be doing to combat excessive fatigue and lethargy during pregnancy is upping your caffeine intake in hopes that you’ll get your energy levels back. Excessive levels of caffeine during pregnancy can be very harmful for both you and the baby you’re carrying.
It would also be a good idea for you to talk to your doctor about this, since many women have medical conditions such as hypothyroidism that keep them feeling tired and sleepy all day.
23) Unusual Cravings
You may notice that you’re craving unusual stuff that you’ve never craved before. For example, some women report craving ice11.
24) Vaginal Discharge
Depending on the type of vaginal discharge you notice at the time, this could very well be a sign of conception, especially if it’s a thick and creamy-like vaginal discharge around the time you usually get your period.
On the other hand, if you notice a transparent vaginal discharge that’s egg white in color, then chances are this is only related to ovulation.
Taking A Pregnancy Test
If you notice any of these symptoms and your period is running late at the same time, it would be a good idea for you to take a pregnancy test.
However, it’s best that you wait until one to two weeks after you miss your period and then take a pregnancy test.
Note from Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN: “There are some tests that say they can detect pregnancy before your missed period but they are only “99% accurate” on the day you actually miss your period.”
Either way, you’ll need to wait for one or two weeks after a missed period until you take a pregnancy test so that the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG) in your body are high enough for the test to detect.
Taking a pregnancy test earlier than you should and when levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG) are still low will only yield back a false negative result while in reality, you could possibly be pregnant.
If you’re experiencing any number of these symptoms, taking a pregnancy test before a missed period would be putting that test to waste – and these things aren’t exactly the cheapest stuff you can buy!
For all you know, these could just be premenstrual symptoms making themselves apparent before you’re period, and you’ll have ended up wasting a pregnancy test and getting your period shortly after.
All of this is also applicable to tests that claim they could give you accurate results and tell you whether or not you are indeed pregnant up to one week before your missed period.
Does A Late Period Always Indicate Pregnancy?
No, just because your period is running later than usual does not mean that you’re pregnant, even if you’ve actively been trying to conceive as of recent.
Women get their periods late all the time for a vast number of different reasons, none necessarily having anything to do with pregnancy.
The following is a list that discusses some examples of reasons why women could possibly get late periods, besides being pregnant.
- Abnormal circumstances the person is going through at that time and them going through high levels of stress
- Rapid change in weight lately (whether that be gain in weight or weight loss)
- Side effect of medication that person is taking or treatment they’re undergoing for a health complication they have at the time
- Long hours at once spent traveling
- Being overweight, because this tends to lengthen your cycle
And the list goes on and on, the examples and reasons are endless.
Talking To Your Doctor
Just because you notice that you’re experiencing one (or any number of) the signs mentioned in the list above before you’ve missed your period, this doesn’t necessarily confirm that you’re in fact pregnant.
Many of these symptoms oftentimes have nothing to do with a pregnancy at all, but are in reality indicators of medical and health complications an individual might be experiencing.
So, talking to your doctor about what you’re feeling (if it’s anything excessively unusual) is a good idea to rule out any possible health problems.
To be extra sure, your doctor can run you through a blood test to see whether you are indeed pregnant or there’s something else going on that needs medical intervention.
However, you’ll likely have to wait for a few weeks until after your missed period for your doctor to request a blood test. Just like pregnancy tests, blood tests taken way too early can give back false-negative results.
Don’t Get Too Held Up
If you spend too much time thinking about it and being held up on every tiny change you see in your body, it’s easy to drive yourself crazy!
There’s a difference between Googling (or ask around) about unusual symptoms you notice during this time, which is fine, and occupying yourself with every last bit of small change you notice in your body to the extent that it kills your productivity and stands in the way of you getting work done throughout the day, which is not fine.
The latter is often referred to as “symptom spotting”, and is a surefire way to drive yourself crazy during this two week wait, especially if you’re one of those who rarely had anything weird go on in their body before trying to conceive.
What Should I Not Do During This Two Week Wait?
During this two week wait between the date you tried to conceive in and the date you’re supposed to get your period on, the following list discusses some of the most notable stuff you’re better off not doing until you confirm your pregnancy (or lack thereof) through a pregnancy test.
Lay off the alcohol until you get a definite answer back about whether or not you’re truly pregnant. Any amount of alcohol you consume, no matter how small it may be, can put your growing fetus’s health and well-being at great risk.
You’re best off greatly limiting (or even eliminating altogether) your caffeine intake during this period. Not only are excessive levels of caffeine harmful to your fetus, caffeine can cause you to experience unusual symptoms while pregnant, such as excessive sweating, increased heart rate, feeling all jittery and anxious, feeling dizzy and lightheaded, etc ..
Unless given approval by your doctor to do so, don’t take painkillers or medication (such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen, just to name a couple) on your own.
Also lay off any smoking during this period, no matter how “minimal” or “occasional” it is, and no matter what it is that you’re smoking (tobacco, marijuana, etc ..).
This applies to second hand smoking the same way it does to first hand smoking.
- 7 Safe Home Remedies for Gas During Pregnancy. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/home-remedies-for-gas-during-pregnancy#1. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Breast Changes During Pregnancy. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/breast-changes-during-pregnancy/. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- CAFFEINE IN PREGNANCY. https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/caffeine-in-pregnancy.aspx. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Dizziness in pregnancy. https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a228/dizziness-in-pregnancy. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Pregnancy And Heartburn. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/heartburn-during-pregnancy/. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Stuffy Nose and Nosebleeds During Pregnancy. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/nasal-congestion.aspx. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Charting. https://www.early-pregnancy-tests.com/basal-body-temperature-charting. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Prenatal Care: Urinary Frequency and Thirst. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/urinary-frequency-thirst. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Morning Sickness. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/morning-sickness-during-pregnancy/. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Fatigue During Pregnancy. https://americanpregnancy.org/your-pregnancy/fatigue-during-pregnancy/. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Why Do You Crave Ice? https://www.healthline.com/health/craving-ice#1. Accessed June 24, 2019.