Early symptoms of pregnancy: everything you need to know

The female anatomy is pretty incredible. You see, while it may be too early to take a pregnancy test, your body can start displaying signs as early as two weeks after conception. (Amazing, or what?) Sure, you may pick up on some of the more tell-tale symptoms – breast tenderness, a missed period, or morning sickness – but there are subtler changes to your physical and emotional appearance that might surprise you. Let’s find out: what are the early symptoms of pregnancy? 


Queasiness was always going to show its face on this list. Morning sickness is triggered by an increase in the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and oestrogen. Side note: don’t be fooled by the name. Though bouts of nausea are more likely to strike in the morning, it can happen at any time of the day (sorry!).


No – we’re not talking about the typical mid-morning crash that a simple cup of joe can fix. If you’re feeling flat-out dog tired, it may be a sign your body is gearing up for 9 months of hard-core baby-growing. 

A missed period

Again, you’re probably well accustomed with this one: a missed period is a classic sign that you’re expecting. If, however, you have light or irregular periods, this symptom can be easy to overlook. And to confuse matters further, some women may continue having periods after conception.

You need to pee…a lot

While your little nut won’t be pushing on your bladder just yet (you’ve got that to look forward to later), the hormonal changes associated with early pregnancy, along with your kidneys working harder and body pumping more blood, could see you running to the ladies more often now.

Spotting or bleeding

Strange but true: some women will experience implantation bleeding when the foetus implants into the lining of your uterus and release a small amount of blood. Typically, this occurs 6 to 12 days after conception.

Increased vaginal discharge

Noticed more milky white discharge in your knickers recently? This is your body’s way of preventing harmful infections from travelling upward to your blossoming babe. Told you the female body is amazing, didn’t we?

Breast changes

Another obvious sign of pregnancy. Did you know breasts may increase by a full cup size in the first 6 weeks?! They can feel swollen and tender, too.

Nipples changes

On the subject of boobs, let’s talk nipples. Pregnancy hormones can spark a surge in your body’s melanin production, causing your nipples and the areola to darken in colour.

Feeling lightheaded or fainting 

If you’re feeling lightheaded or fainting at all, you can blame the pregnancy hormone, progesterone. This fella makes your blood vessels relax and widen, increasing blood flow around the body and triggering low blood pressure.

Metallic taste in your mouth

Another indicator of early pregnancy – and this one even has it’s own scientific name: ‘dysgeusia’.

Bleeding gums

Noticed blood in the sink when you’re brushing your teeth? Again, you can thank progesterone. By increasing the blood flow to your gums, this hormone increases sensitivity and makes bleeding more likely.

A heightened sense of smell or taste

Is your favourite perfume making you wince? This may be another indicator of pregnancy. The culprit: oestrogen, which increases your response to any stimuli that may harm your growing cherub…including that tuna sandwich. 

Shortness of breath

If your morning run is making you more out of breath than usual, it could be another sign you’ve got a bun in the oven. The spike in progesterone expands your lung capacity, meaning you’ll need to take more breaths.

Period-like stomach cramps

You’re blighted with painful abdominal cramps, but no – it’s not your period. Instead, these aches may signal the egg has implanted into the uterine wall, sparking that familiar cramping sensation.  

Back pain

The pregnancy hormone, relaxin, is responsible for back pain. This chemical encourages your joints to relax and become looser, helping your body prepare for birth.


Do you get splitting headaches around the time your period is due? This is down to the surge in oestrogen. After conception, your oestrogen levels increase, too, resulting in yet another pounding head.


Pregnancy will see you craving certain foods and developing aversions to others. A burning desire for olives, pickles, or even a lump of coal (yup, pregnancy cravings can get weird) could indicate pregnancy. 


Is your appetite insatiable all of sudden? This could be a sign your body wants to begin eating for two…

More emotional 

Found yourself sobbing at a TV advert? Emotions can ebb and flow during pregnancy (spoiler alert: hormones), so if you’re oscillating from euphoria to anxiety to teariness, then it may be time to buy yourself a pregnancy test. 

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