71 percent reported symptoms by the end of week six and 89 percent by week eight. Whether you start to sense early pregnancy symptoms immediately or later in pregnancy, don’t fret. Michele Justice, MD, an ob-gyn at Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg, Virginia. Also, her second pregnancy can be different from her first.
And of course, just because you experience something that could be chalked up as a sign of pregnancy, it’s never a guarantee there’s a baby on board. If you think you might be pregnant, Justice says, your best bet is to take a pregnancy test. Are your boobs killing you? Do they feel tender and swollen? If so, it’s possible you’ve conceived this cycle. Sore breasts and nipples are often one of the first early signs of pregnancy that women experience. Unfortunately, a lot of women also experience soreness as a normal part of their monthly menstrual cycle, so it can be hard to tell the difference between the typical breast tenderness before your period vs an early pregnancy sign.
But there’s one key difference: In pregnancy, the tenderness doesn’t go away like it normally does with PMS, Justice says. Instead, the painful, tingly sensations tend to get worse as time passes, often leveling off around the end of the first trimester. During early pregnancy, levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones spike, which causes increased blood flow to your breasts. These hormones are also why some women experience breast tenderness around the time of ovulation and as part of PMS—but in that case, the hormones begin to plummet as you get closer to the start of your period, and the breast pain subsides. If you’ve conceived, your hormone levels will rise rather than fall and your breasts will become increasingly tender. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one dealing with breast pain—it’s one of the most common early pregnancy symptoms.
For many women it lasts just a week or so, but others experience some level of breast tenderness for their entire pregnancy. Take comfort in the fact that this pain and tenderness means your breasts are preparing to nourish baby after she’s born! Get a supportive bra to ease the discomfort of this pregnancy symptom. Talk to a professional who can help you with a fitting, and be sure to leave a little extra room. Trust us, they’re going to keep growing. And don’t be afraid to use either warm or cold compresses if things get really uncomfortable—just use whichever feels right for you.
Your areolas—aka the area around your nipples—can start to appear darker and larger as early as one or two weeks after conception, making this one of the more popular early pregnancy symptoms. And that’s not all—look closely and you’ll see that the veins in your breasts are more noticeable as well. You might also notice little bumps popping up around the edges of your areolas. They’re called Montgomery tubercles, designed to help lubricate your nipples once baby is here and ready to nurse. If you haven’t realized it yet, your breasts will undergo lots of changes during pregnancy! But while a dramatic increase in hCG is responsible for many of the initial pregnancy symptoms, it seems to affect your breasts earliest of all. Darker areolas and veins will probably be one of the first signs of pregnancy you’ll notice, and they’re both extremely common.
And it doesn’t stop there: Your areolas may continue to grow and deepen in color as your pregnancy progresses. Sometimes the changes are permanent, sometimes they’re not. As with so many other pregnancy symptoms, this is one that requires a grin-and-bear-it approach. The deepening color shouldn’t be a cause for concern—it’s a harmless part of the pregnancy experience. Your nipples are probably much more tender now too, especially when you’re cold or something rubs against them. Applying warm compresses and wearing a lightweight, soft cotton bra can help. Similar to sore breasts, cramping is among the early signs of pregnancy.
It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between early pregnancy symptoms and signs that your period is on its way, especially when it comes to cramping. But even though they feel identical, cramps in pregnancy and period cramps are caused by different things. The cramps before your period are due to increased prostaglandins that help the uterus prepare to shed its lining. Most women experience at least some cramping during their pregnancy. Just remember to contact your doctor if you’re worried or if it becomes severe. If you’re having cramps, don’t panic. Having some light pink or brown spotting about a week before your period is due? It happens six to 12 days after conception, when a fertilized egg burrows deep into the lining of your uterus, causing a bit of mild irritation. When it’s happening, it can easily be confused with the onset of your period, so it’s one of those pregnancy symptoms that’s often noticed only in hindsight. It means you’ve got a baby on the way! A few days after conception, the fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tubes and settles in your uterus. There, the egg will attach to the wall of your uterus. Since your uterine lining is rich with blood, a little spotting can often occur and isn’t cause for concern. Implantation spotting occurs in about 25 percent of women, according to Justice, so you may or may not encounter it. Remember, every woman is unique and will experience pregnancy symptoms differently.