When polled in research, a third of women in the US said that a missed period was their first symptom of pregnancy. But what about the vast majority, who indicated early signs of pregnancy prior to being aware of being late? The likeliest explanation is that this is a result of irregular menstrual cycles. This is common in many women, and often means they’re less likely to notice a missed period. So, what’s actually possible? Here is a list of pregnancy symptoms you might experience before a missed period on a scale of highest to lowest.
1. Highest: Nausea
A quarter of women polled during the research study said that nausea was their first pregnancy symptom before a missed period. Nausea and vomiting - often known as morning sickness - is especially prevalent in the early stages of pregnancy. Although morning sickness is highly unpleasant, it doesn’t put your baby at any increased risk and usually subsides four months into pregnancy.
2. High: Breast Changes
Around a fifth of women stated that a change in their breasts was the first thing they noticed about being pregnant. A typical early indicator of pregnancy, you might feel a difference in sensation in your breasts, such as soreness and tingling. This is due to the growth of milk ducts in the breasts, as well as the increased levels of the hormone progesterone. You might also notice a change in the size of your breasts, and due to hormones that affect the pigmentation of the skin, there’s a chance your nipples and areolas will darken in color.
3. Moderate: Implantation Bleeding
Just 3% of women polled said that implantation bleeding was their first pregnancy indicator. Perfectly normal in early pregnancy (and also harmless), you might experience some light bleeding, commonly known as ‘spotting.’ This happens when the embryo plants itself in the wall of your womb. You might find that implantation bleeding occurs around the time your period would have been due.
4. Low: Mood Swings
Although mood swings are a not so pleasant part of early-stage pregnancy, it’s highly unlikely you’ll notice them before your first missed period. One of the main reasons you might experience erratic moods is the change in your hormone levels. The amount of estrogen and progesterone in your blood increases when you conceive, which helps your body prepare for the arduous journey that is pregnancy, but can also affect your mood and have you going from tears of joy to tears of irritation in a blink of an eye. As well as your hormones, external factors can also play a part in early pregnancy mood swings - feeling excited about meeting your baby, but also anxiety about whether you’ve made the right decision, for example. Fortunately, you should find that your mood swings subside, or at least become more manageable, in your second trimester, and can regain a certain level of control over your feelings.
5. Lowest: Constipation, Cramping & Bloating
These symptoms are all factors during early pregnancy, but it’s unlikely you’ll notice any of these before your first missed period. There are several reasons why you might experience these various complaints. Fluctuating hormones, a lack of exercise, iron supplements, a diet short on fluids or fiber, or even an overall feeling of anxiety can all lead to you feeling constipated, which in turn can result in painful cramping and uncomfortable bloating. To combat these unwanted symptoms, try increasing the number of fluids and fiber in your diet, the World Health Organization recommended a daily intake of 1.5 to 2 liters of water each day for pregnant women. Stool softeners are also an option, although these should be taken on the advice of your doctor.