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8 Early Signs of Pregnancy

By Rebecca Felsenthal Stewart
WebMD Feature

You haven't missed your period yet, but something seems different. Are there other clues that you're pregnant?

Some women notice changes in their energy level, mood, or breasts -- a lot like having PMS. Other signs might take you by surprise, like fainting, a shift in your sense of smell, or more bathroom visits.

Your changing hormones kick into gear, even before you take that pregnancy test. 

Tender Breasts

One of the first signs is often achy, tender breasts. They may feel fuller and heavier. You might even notice the area around your nipple getting bigger and darker.

Most early pregnancy symptoms, including tender breasts, are related to rising levels of the hormone progesterone, says Treesa McLean, a licensed midwife. Another reason your breasts swell is that your body keeps more water during pregnancy, which can make you feel bloated, too.

"Wear a good supportive bra, especially when exercising," McLean says.

Fatigue

"Women who have never been able to nap before often suddenly start needing naps during the first trimester," says Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD. At this point, it's the extra progesterone that's making you feel wiped out.

You can look forward to a bit of an energy boost in your second trimester, but expect the exhaustion to creep back as you enter the home stretch, she says. The best thing to do is go with it: Head to bed earlier, and steal the chance to snooze when you can.

Mood Swings

Those hormone changes that make you emotional during your monthly cycle stick around for early pregnancy, too.

And once you know you're pregnant, you might get stressed out about the idea of becoming a parent. "Even if it's planned, there can be a lot of fear," Conry says. "We see the positive pregnancy test and have the baby's life -- and the rest of our lives -- planned in a moment."

Fatigue and hunger can make mood swings worse, McLean says, so try to find time to rest and eat small snacks throughout the day.

You're likely to feel better by 14 to 16 weeks, Conry says. If you don't, bring it up with your OB or midwife. She can recommend someone to provide support through the pregnancy and after.

Feeling Lightheaded

Some women get very lightheaded or dizzy during early pregnancy. Some even have fainting spells. It could be hormones, or it might low blood pressure, McLean says.

See your OB or midwife to get a better idea of what's going on. If your blood sugar is low, try eating smaller meals more often throughout the day.

For many women, the spacey feeling gets better after the first trimester, she says.

Nausea and Vomiting

Queasiness can start early on, although full-blown nausea and vomiting usually don't usually show up until 7 to 9 weeks, Conry says. Small, frequent, protein-rich meals can help control your uneasy stomach. Staying hydrated can, too.

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