For women who have a regular monthly menstrual cycle, the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period.
If your period doesn’t arrive as expected, you may be pregnant, but there can be other reasons for a missed period, such as illness, stress and strenuous activity.
Sometimes women who are pregnant have a very light period, losing only a little blood.
Some of the other early pregnancy signs and symptoms are listed below. Every woman is different and not all women will notice all these symptoms.
Feeling sick and vomiting
You may feel sick and nauseous, and you may vomit. This is commonly known as morning sickness, but it can happen at any time of the day or night. If you’re being sick all the time and can’t keep anything down, contact your doctor.
Feeling very tired
It’s common to feel very tired, or even exhausted, during pregnancy, especially during the first 12 weeks or so. Hormonal changes taking place in your body at this time can make you feel tired, nauseous, emotional and upset.
Changes in your breasts
Your breasts may become larger and feel tender, just as they might do before your period. They may also tingle. The veins may be more visible, and the nipples may darken and stand out.
You may feel the need to pass urine more often than usual, including during the night. This is caused by pregnancy hormones and usually settles after a few months.
Other signs of pregnancy that you might notice are:
- an increased vaginal discharge without any soreness or irritation
- a strange taste in your mouth, which many women describe as metallic
- changes in what you want to eat, such as craving new foods and losing interest in certain foods or drinks that you previously enjoyed, such as tea, coffee or fatty food
- losing interest in tobacco if you smoke
- having a more sensitive sense of smell than usual, for example to the smell of food or cooking
Am I pregnant?
As soon as you think you could be pregnant, you should check to find out if you are. There are several ways to find out if you are pregnant.
With home pregnancy tests:
- Make sure you follow the instructions on the test very carefully to get the most accurate result.
- Wait until at least a week after your expected period before testing to get the most reliable result.
- If you are taking fertility drugs or you are an older woman, you may get a false result.
- If you use a home pregnancy kit, always see a doctor to confirm the pregnancy.
You can also have a urine test done by your doctor, or at a family planning clinic.
A blood test will give you a reliable result, even at the earliest stage of pregnancy. Your doctor will order the test, which will check for hCG in your blood. You can have this test done as soon as you have missed your period.
Baby due date
Once you know you are pregnant, your doctor or midwife will help you work out when your baby is due (the ‘estimated date of confinement’ or EDC). This is done by adding 40 weeks to the date of the beginning of your last period. You can use our due date calculator to work out when your baby will be due.
Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you should start thinking about the type of care you want throughout your pregnancy and the birth. If you are in the workforce this is also the time to find out about your rights at work and about maternity leave.
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Last reviewed: August 2020