The desire to fall pregnant can be extremely powerful in many women. So much so that it can color every potential symptom of early pregnancy as an undeniable fact that you have conceived. Sometimes missing your menstrual period and certain other symptoms can be true indicators that you are actually pregnant. However, sometimes they can just a sign of anxiety towards conceiving.
So what exactly are the symptoms you could feel in the first week of your pregnancy?

Possible symptoms include

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Lack of or excess appetite
  • Pain in the breasts
  • Swollen abdomen
  • The urge to urinate regularly (the constant feeling of a full bladder)

These are the symptoms that are regularly reported by women in the first or second week of their pregnancy. However, they could easily not be signs of pregnancy and instead come from something as normal as food poisoning or catching a virus. Alternatively, they could be heightened versions of your regular PMT symptoms.

The problem with these vague symptoms is that they become a crutch for women who are desperate to fall pregnant. Women take note of any changes in their cycle or their appetite and become convinced that they have at last conceived. It can be very dangerous to get your hopes up like this as the extra stress and anxiety makes it harder to actually get pregnant.

Therefore, it’s important to stress that these early signals may just be normal post-ovulation symptoms, or completely unrelated to your menstrual cycle. In fact, in 99% of cases, these discomforts or pains come from the normal hormonal activity in the body after ovulation.

IMPORTANT: Some women are so anxious about getting pregnant that they begin to feel the symptoms even if they haven’t actually conceived. This is a psychological phenomenon known as a phantom pregnancy. In extreme cases, the woman’s abdomen begins to expand as if a baby was actually growing in there.

After you ovulate, there is an increase in progesterone in your system. This is to get the body ready for possible conception. The problem is, this increase in the hormone can lead to all of the same symptoms that women experience in the first week of pregnancy. This is why most doctors do not take those symptoms seriously and advise that you wait before spending money on taking a pregnancy test.

It’s very important to not put pressure on yourself and get your hopes up at the early potential symptoms. Imagine the pain and disappointment of believing that these signs mean you are pregnant and then suddenly menstruation begins just a little late. Rather wait and let your body work through the hormone changes, just in case the symptoms really are merely a delay in your cycle. We always suggest that you wait at least a week after your missed menstruation starting date before taking a pregnancy test.

Your symptoms could even mean that an egg has been fertilized, but again, this could still end up with the pregnancy not taking. Sometimes the fertilized ovum doesn’t attach properly to the womb and the body ends up expelling it. This could be the reason for your delayed menstruation period. Additionally, this is another reason as to why it’s important to wait before taking a pregnancy test.

Recent research has shown that in some cases there is an enzyme that influences the behavior of the corpus luteum. The enzyme makes the follicle secrete even more progesterone to thicken the endometrium (wall of the uterus), helping even more to facilitate pregnancy. If your symptoms are very intense, it’s possible that your egg was fertilized but for some reason the pregnancy did not take.

Are the symptoms in the first week all false?

The simple answer is no. These symptoms really could be a reaction to conceiving. However, they are not a clear indicator that you are pregnant and shouldn’t be treated as such. If the symptoms continue or even intensify, then take a pregnancy test to be sure. Just remember to wait until your menstrual period is at least five days late or until 25 days after sexual intercourse.

Your symptoms are actually very likely to get stronger if you are pregnant. This is due to the introduction of hCG – a hormone that is produced by the placenta after fertilization and implantation occur. hCG further stimulates the corpus luteum (what’s left of the follicle after ovulation), causing it to release more progesterone.

Bleeding in the first week

Occasionally, women actually bleed in the first week of pregnancy. This could be a sign that your body needs a helping hand with the production of pregnancy hormones.

If you believe that you are pregnant and you have started bleeding, it’s best to consult your obstetrician. They may decide to do an ultrasound, but remember, you may not be able to see anything as the pregnancy is still too new. You are unlikely to be able to see any sign of the fertilized egg if you are under five weeks.

Whether you’re eager to have a baby or think you might have had an accident with contraception, it’s important to wait. Have a little patience and wait to until after your menstruation is due before buying a pregnancy test.

Readers’ questions:

Can ovulation inducers cause symptoms that are similar to those of pregnancy?

Yes, ovulation inducers can definitely cause symptoms that can be confused for the signs of early pregnancy. Some cause abdominal bloating or the feeling that the abdomen is full. They can also result in weight gain and even nausea.

Is pain in the nipples a symptom of early pregnancy?

Pain in the nipples and increased sensitivity in the breasts is quite normal for the first few weeks of pregnancy, and for premenstrual tension. This means that it can’t be taken as a definitive sign that you have fallen pregnant.