I have a confession.
I’m a pregnancy test addict.
I am the person who buys the tests even BEFORE the missed period because I’m sure that I’m pregnant. I’m always sure.
Problem is, I know the early signs of pregnancy, and I know MY early signs of pregnancy, but there is still just something about seeing that actual test, even when it isn’t usually necessary (because I don’t have any real signs).
I have 2 kids, and with each of them I had some similar early signs, but I’ve still taken more tests than I can count. My poor husband has dealt with me “claiming” to be pregnant so many times in our past 5 years of marriage, and let’s just say I’m grateful for Walmart’s $.88 tests or else we would be broke haha.
But since I’ve thought I was pregnant about 18 million times, I’ve learned what some true early signs of pregnancy actually are, and I’ll share what are the ones that are most common!.
1. Breast Tenderness
This was a HUGE sign to me for both of my pregnancies.
Like, to the point of wanting to take ibuprofen for the serious pain (but don’t! Ibuprofen is an NSAID–non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug–and shouldn’t be taken at all during pregnancy unless your doctor gives you the okay). I honestly had to force myself to put a bra on and even showering was painful because of the pressure of the water.
It can last past the early stages too. With my second, I had all the way to 20 weeks or so.
2. Joint/Ligament Pain
This one is rarely mentioned, but it was THE sign for me. When you’re pregnant, your hormones go wacko (shock, I know). But in addition to that, the amount of the hormone relaxin is increased.
Relaxin does just what you think: it helps parts of your body to relax. And it is really important in pregnancy too! Too little causes difficulty with the dilation of your cervix, and too much can cause pre-term labor (cervix dilating early).¹ What it also does is relax your ligaments and joints in your pelvis.
This is obviously important because you want your hips to be flexible enough for labor, but too flexible is painful. That is what happens to me when I get pregnant. The S.I. (sacro-iliac) joints in my hips in the back (so my lower back area) get loose and I have terrible lower back pain from the get go. Seriously though. When I’m 4 weeks pregnant, even before a positive test, I get this pain, so it is a very early pregnancy symptom for me.
3. Frequent Urination
This one is common, and it makes sense.
Your bladder happens to sit right on top of your uterus, so when you are pregnant and your uterus starts to grow (even the tiniest bit!) it is pushing on your bladder causing you to need to go more frequently.
(Now here’s a fun fact: if you are in labor and your labor appears to stall for an unknown reason, try using the bathroom. Your uterus and bladder compete for space, so once your bladder is empty, your uterus will be able to contract more easily!)
This was another early pregnancy symptom for me that lasted throughout the first trimester.
Now this tiredness wasn’t oh-I-slept-terribly-last-night tiredness. No no no. It was I-am-going-to-die-from-this-unless-I-sleep-18-hours-straight tiredness.
It was in my bones.
Every part of my being was exhausted to the point of barely being able to function. It sure made going to my college classes difficult (thankfully I had extremely understanding professors). Even having a newborn didn’t compare to the tiredness I felt during the first trimester.
Now, I don’t tell you all of this to freak you out, but to let you know that it is normal! And if your kids watch a little extra T.V. or you get behind on your laundry, IT IS OKAY. Growing a baby is freaking hard work. All of your resources are going toward that cute little bundle of cells, and you just have to accept that.
I still remember being pregnant with my first and having my little sister (I’m the oldest of 6) who was probably 11 at the time tell me that I wasn’t doing anything when I was sitting down. I tried to explain to her that growing a baby is hard work and she said, “no it’s not. You’re not even moving.” Oh boy, I cannot WAIT until she’s pregnant one day so I can throw that back at her. (She is only 14, so I can actually wait a long LONG time before using it against her.)
Nausea actually doesn’t tend to hit until you are about 6-8 weeks pregnant, but it’s obviously a pretty common symptom. One way to help combat nausea is to eat small, frequent meals. Having a handful of almonds or a cheese stick (something with some protein) will help, and keeping snacks by your bed for those midnight bathroom trips will help too.
Don’t let your stomach get too empty if you can help it! Some people are lucky though and don’t even have any type of morning sickness, and if that’s the case, count your blessings!
There is the other side of the spectrum though where you are so sick that you are vomiting multiple times a day. That is called hyperemesis. If your doctor doesn’t want to see you in his office until 12 weeks, still call if you are vomiting that often. You will have the risk of dehydration, and that can easily be remedied by a quick I.V.
Some people miss the fact that they are pregnant because they have cramping and light spotting around the time of their period, and they just assume it was a light month. While that is more than possible, some cramping and spotting can also be one of your early signs of pregnancy! It is also called implantation bleeding where the embryo is implanting into the uterus causing a little bit of bleeding and cramping, which won’t last very long. If you do have significant cramping and bleeding though, please call your doctor.
7. Mood Swings
This is one of those early signs of pregnancy that is always fun. You thought PMS was bad, oh man, pregnancy mood swings can get pretty intense. I remember crying when my husband wouldn’t go out and get me Little Caesar’s crazy bread (I had an addiction).
Your hormones are changing and you will have highs and lows, so it’s totally normal to cry at cute commercials or even because you are excited. You will be all over the place, and you’ll just have to roll with it. And remember to apologize when things go back to normal if you’ve said something rude. But I don’t know that from personal experience at all….
Now, these aren’t the only early signs of pregnancy, and just because I’ve listed these, doesn’t mean you will have all of them either. You might have none of them! Who knows! Every woman is different and every pregnancy is different too. The best, and only sure way, to know if you are pregnant is to miss your period and have a positive test! Pregnancy is weird, but it is also the means to a wonderful ending of a sweet baby in your arms, so enjoy the journey as much as you can! Now, check out this post on Midwife vs. Doctor so you know which provider will be best for you during this journey!
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