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Pregnancy Signs & How to Know if You Are Pregnant

Pregnancy Signs & How to Know if You Are Pregnant

“Am I pregnant?” This question runs through your mind when you wake up feeling off or are late on your period. It might come up because you are actively trying to conceive. Or, it might come up if you forget your protection and now wonder if the sperm made its’ way to the egg. One of the mysterious things about pregnancy is that it can take weeks to find the answer, but it does give signs. If you are wondering how do you know if you are pregnant, it takes timing, testing, and knowing the early pregnancy symptoms.  

How Early can you tell if you are pregnant?

You might be tempted to grab a pregnancy test at the first thought of being pregnant. However, testing too early could give you inaccurate results. Because of the timing of ovulation, you are likely to show a positive pregnancy 1-2 weeks after engaging in sex. This is usually in the week after having a missed period. This is because pregnancy tests measure HCG levels. HCG is the hormone that is released in the woman’s body if a fertilized egg attaches to the uterus. In order to have detectable levels of HCG, it takes 7-12 days after implantation. Implantation is most common during a woman’s ovulation.  

Ways to detect early pregnancy

There are a few methods for how to tell if you are pregnant. If you are consistent with taking your basal temperature, the pattern may suggest pregnancy, However, temperature changes can be from other factors, so this is not a sure sign. Most women find out they are pregnant from a pee stick pregnancy test. Some guarantee a very early detection, but as mentioned above it usually takes 7-12 days after implantation to detect. Your pregnancy can also be detected by a blood test or an ultrasound with your medical provider.  

Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Every woman has a different story about early pregnancy symptoms. For me, it was the strange craving for peanut butter mixed with hot sauce that tipped my husband off. In my second pregnancy, it was the bloating and tender breasts. While some women experience a number of common symptoms, other women experience very little change.  

Another reason that early pregnancy symptoms can be confusing is that many symptoms feel a lot like menstruation. You are often left wondering if your next period is around the corner, or if your uterus is sending you baby signals. When asking how to know if you are pregnant, there are a few things to look for.  



Spotting often happens between 1-2 weeks after implantation. This is also known as implantation bleeding. Many women are unsure if they are having their menstrual cycle or implantation bleeding because they usually occur around the same time. One key difference is the color. While most women are familiar with the red color of their period bleeding, implantation bleeding is usually more of a pink/rust color. 



Even though there is not much to show for it, the early days of pregnancy are a lot of work. The changing hormones and body result in fatigue. This fatigue can seem to hit you out of nowhere. This is often the first indication to women wondering how to tell if you are pregnant.   



Reminiscent of your menstrual cycle, early pregnancy cramping is your uterus talking to you. This is also known as implantation cramping and happens as the fertilized egg meets the uterus. 

4. Discharge

It is common for white, milky discharge to increase as an early pregnancy symptom. This is because the vaginal walls are thickening to prepare for the pregnancy. Hormones also have an impact on the change in frequency and consistency of vaginal discharge. 

5. nausea

Nausea is also known as the infamous morning sickness. This nausea can actually happen at any time of the day (or night). Most believe this comes from the drastic hormone shifts that happen from implantation.   

6. Tender Breasts & Nipple Changes

Sure, your breasts go through a lot during breastfeeding. But, they can go through a lot in pregnancy too. Tender breasts are an early pregnancy sign and reaction to the new changes in hormone levels. Some women notice that their areolas become darker in pregnancy as well.  Estrogen is at play here.  


Constipation & bloating

If you’re feeling different down there, you might wonder is constipation a sign of pregnancy? Well, it can be! Your hormone changes can slow down your digestion, leading to constipation in early pregnancy. This can also be the reason you experience bloating.  


Smell sensitivity

If you find yourself running away from your partner’s takeout dinner and feeling like the smell is overwhelming, this could be an early pregnancy sign. Heightened sense of smell often happens in the first trimester of pregnancy.  


mood Swings

Again, we have hormones to thank here. When the hormones are drastically shifting, it can cause mood swings. Similarly to other symptoms, it is easy to be unsure whether this is pregnancy or a menstrual cycle.

10. Headache or dizziness

Changes in hormones and an increase of blood can cause you to experience a headache or dizziness in early pregnancy. If you very early in your pregnancy, you may write this off to other causes. 

11. acne

We cannot forget the way that hormones can make you feel like a teenager again. One way they can impact you in early pregnancy is by causing acne on the face and/or body.  

If you are wondering how to know if you are pregnant, there is no one-size-fits-all early pregnancy flag. However, these early pregnancy symptoms can help you figure out if it is time to buy that pregnancy test or grab some chocolate and a heating pad for your next menstrual cycle.  

About The Author

Chelsea Skaggs

Chelsea Skaggs is a postpartum advocate and coach who is committed to helping women kick the pressure to be "Pinterest Perfect" and have real, raw conversations to acknowledge and empower the postpartum experience. She provides small group coaching, eCourses, online communities and helps other women start motherhood-centered businesses. She believes that normalizing and empowering all the changes in life after baby can change the world and leads that effort at

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