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Early pregnancy signs and symptoms

The first signs

You might have signs or symptoms of pregnancy within a few weeks of becoming pregnant.

The most common symptom of early pregnancy is a missed period. If you have an irregular menstrual cycle it will be less obvious.

You may notice physical changes such as:

  • morning sickness — nausea and/or vomiting that may come and go throughout the day. It can hit at any time of the day and not just in the morning. You may also go off some foods.
  • breasts tenderness and enlargement
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • food cravings
  • needing to pass urine more often
  • abdominal pain or bloating

You may experience several of these changes. It’s also possible that you won’t feel much different to usual.

If you have pregnancy symptoms that are bothering you, ask your doctor what you can do to feel better.

Am I really pregnant?

If you suspect you are pregnant you can get a pregnancy test from a chemist or pharmacy or you can visit your GP.

Even if you are uncertain about being pregnant a visit with a GP may be useful so that you can discuss your concerns or be referred to other services.

You can buy a home pregnancy test from your local pharmacy or chemist.

To do the test you just have to wee on the test stick. With others you may have to dip a testing strip into a urine sample.

The way that the results are displayed can vary, but it is usually fairly easy to follow. Some will show a pink or blue line on the test strip to tell you if you are pregnant, others reveal a plus or a minus sign (plus you are pregnant and minus you’re not).

The test works by measuring the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. Your body starts to produce the pregnancy hormone when the fertilised egg implants in your uterus. The pregnancy hormone can be detected in your urine from about six to fourteen days after fertilisation.

Most pregnancy tests are sensitive enough to detect the pregnancy hormone in your urine on the first day that your period is due.  If the test is negative but your period still doesn’t come you could try re-testing in a few days. If the test is positive, it is most likely that you are pregnant. It will only be in very rare circumstances that you will get a positive result that is incorrect or false.

Once you know or suspect you are pregnant it is advised to see your GP as soon as possible.

What should I do while I'm waiting to find out if I'm pregnant?

While you are waiting to confirm whether you are pregnant, it’s a good idea to behave as you would if you were pregnant.

This means you should:

  • avoid alcohol
  • avoid cigarette smoking and e-cigarette vaping
  • eat a healthy diet
  • take a folic acid supplement

When is my due date?

Pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period, not the date of conception, which generally occurs two weeks later.
Some women are unsure of the date of their last period (perhaps due to period irregularities).  If you have a regular 28-day cycle, a simple method to calculate when your baby is due is to add seven days to the date of the first day of your last period, then add nine months.

For Example

If the first day of your last period was February 1
Add seven days (February 8)
Then add nine months for a due date of November 8.

An ultrasound may be done if there is uncertainty about your dates.

When you have your first pregnancy appointment with a GP, obstetrician or midwife, they will help you to work out when your baby is due.

Page last updated: 20 February 2024

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