5 Reliable Early Pregnancy Signs

Plus 2 ways you can set the stage for a healthy pregnancy

Woman in bathroom with morning sickness

Grandma used to say the only time you’ll see the pulse in your neck is when you’re pregnant. But your BFF says you’ll know by your intense cravings.

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But before you resign yourself to a seemingly endless pregnancy watch, Ob/Gyn Patricia Yost, MD, offers five more reliable signs you’re pregnant.

Pay attention because you might otherwise miss these early signs of pregnancy

The tell-tale sign of pregnancy, of course, is a missed period (duh!). But if you have an irregular period or pay little attention to the calendar, you might miss that obvious clue.

Early pregnancy signs often mimic pre-menstrual symptoms,” says Dr. Yost. “A little cramping and breast tenderness, for example, are common. For some women, bleeding happens when the egg implants and might be mistaken for a light period.”

But as your body ramps up on pregnancy hormones, you might also experience:

  1. Food aversion: BP (before pregnancy) your morning couldn’t start without a cup of coffee. Now the sight of it is a total turnoff.
  2. Nausea: Ugh, your stomach feels unsettled. To vomit or not to vomit, that is the question.
  3. Scent repulsion: Your partner’s cologne or your mother’s lasagna was previously an excuse for celebration. Not so much now that you have a bun in the oven.
  4. Strong gag reflex: Does brushing your teeth make you want to vomit? In early pregnancy, your gag reflex can kick into overdrive.
  5. A need for zzzz’s: It’s Monday morning, and you’re already craving a catnap. Sleep, or at least rest, seems to be on your agenda much more these days.

Got symptoms? Bring on the pregnancy test

“One less-scientific clue is this: Sometimes you just feel different,” says Dr. Yost. “That’s a thing. You just can’t put your finger on it, but you don’t feel ‘normal.’”

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If you missed (or don’t have) the more obvious signs, but the “this just isn’t right” feelings are adding up, reach for a home pregnancy test.

“Over-the-counter pregnancy tests can be positive even before you miss your period,” says Dr. Yost. “They are nearing the sensitivity of blood tests.”

If your home pregnancy test is positive, schedule an appointment with your women’s health provider. The sooner you can confirm your pregnancy, the sooner you can start those habits (and schedule prenatal visits) that will keep you and your baby healthy.

Wondering “am I pregnant?” is exciting when you plan for it

“Women’s health providers like to stress the importance of planning pregnancy,” says Dr. Yost. “It’s a bit mind-boggling that 50% of pregnancies are still unplanned. It’s easier to spot pregnancy symptoms when you are anticipating them.”

Planning for pregnancy helps ensure you don’t conceive at an inconvenient time in your life. More important, your developing baby has the best shot of good health from the moment of conception because you’ll have:

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  • Stopped putting unhealthy things like alcohol in your bloodstream.
  • Taken a prenatal vitamin or multi-vitamin with folate for three or more months before conception to help prevent birth defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord.
  • Wrangled chronic health conditions, like diabetes, into submission.

Don’t know where to start? Get to know your women’s health provider

“We encourage every woman to have a women’s health provider they can rely on for advice long before pregnancy is even on the radar,” says Dr. Yost.

You can count on your women’s health provider to:

  • Establish wellness care: Routine pelvic exams and Pap smears can keep you healthy.
  • Provide STD screenings: If you have a sexually transmitted disease, like herpes, it can negatively affect pregnancy.
  • Regularize your period: You’ll have a better sense of when you’re ovulating (and when you’re pregnant) if your period comes on a more regular basis.
  • Uncover risks: Together with your provider, you’ll get to the bottom of any inherited risks or other concerns that may be hiding in your family history.
  • Offer general advice: To ensure you’re healthy before and during pregnancy, your provider can answer any questions related to women’s health, including questions about weight and nutrition.

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