What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Pregnancy?

By BSc, MSc (embryologist), BSc, MSc (embryologist), BSc, MSc (embryologist), BSc, PhD (senior clinical embryologist), BSc, MSc (embryologist) and BA, MA (fertility counselor).
Last Update: 10/07/2019

During pregnancy, a woman suffers different symptoms and changes in her body due to the hormonal variations that pregnancy entails.

The most common symptom a women will notice is the missing period and that’s what makes her think of a possible pregnancy. Later, she will begin to notice other physical and emotional symptoms, too.

Throughout this article, we are going to indicate all these signs and symptoms that occur in the mother-to-be during the 3 trimesters of pregnancy.

Major Symptoms of Pregnancy

Knowing the symptoms of a possible pregnancy is very important for you, as it tells you to do a pregnancy test so you’ll be able to understand why your body is suffering these reactions.

Besides, once you discover that you’re pregnant, it is important to make an appointment with the gynecologist to start the pregnancy follow-up.

In addition, the sooner you begin to take care of your health, your diet and take the nutritional supplements indicated by your doctor, the greater the chance that the pregnancy will develop normally.

During the first few weeks of pregnancy, the first signs may appear, such as a slight spotting vaginal bleeding known as implantation bleeding, breast changes, increased vaginal discharge, and fatigue.

Since these first symptoms are usually very similar to those of menstruation, usually during the first 14 days you won’t yet suspect that you’re pregnant. After this time, you will be able to see that menstruation does not come and confirm your pregnancy with a urine test.

However, as Dr. Silvia Jiménez, a gynecologist specializing in assisted reproduction, explains, the most common thing a woman does not notice, is when the embryo implantation takes place. In fact, it's absolutely normal not to notice anything, so don't worry if you don't notice symptoms.

In the first months of pregnancy and throughout the first trimester, the most frequent body symptoms are usually nausea, extreme sensitivity in the breasts, changes in smell, aversion to some foods and frequent urination. We will comment on all of them in the following sections.

Delayed menstruation

The absence of menstruation, also known as amenorrhea, is the most characteristic symptom of pregnancy.

It occurs around the fourth week of gestation in all pregnant women.

However, some women experience implantation spotting that they often confuse with menstruation, which does not allow them to properly identify this important symptom.

The same is true for women who have irregular menstrual cycles and will not know they are pregnant until they notice other symptoms later.

Breast changes

At the beginning of pregnancy you’ll already notice some discomfort in the breasts, although the most important changes appear in the second month of pregnancy.

In general, a woman feels her breasts increase in size, are more sensitive, and the nipple becomes larger and darker. All these symptoms appear due to hormonal changes that stimulate the mammary glands for future lactation.

This symptom can be very annoying and painful, especially when dressing or pressing on the breasts.

Nausea

Nausea, or morning sickness, is another of the most characteristic symptoms of the first trimester of pregnancy.

It usually appears after the sixth week of pregnancy, when there is a rapid increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

In most cases, nausea and vomiting occur in the morning, when you have an empty stomach.

In general, this is not a serious symptom unless nausea prevents you from eating and drinking properly.

Changes in smell and appetite

From the second month of pregnancy it is quite common to experience a greater olfactory sensitivity, increased appetite and the appearance of cravings.

You’ll begin to have food cravings that you didn't have before, and in the same way, you may have aversion to foods that you once loved.

Strong or unpleasant odors may also increase nausea during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Tiredness

It is also very common for women to feel more tired and lack energy from the second month of pregnancy.

Any task that used to be done with complete normality can now be exhausting.

As a consequence, it is also normal to feel sleepy, as the body needs to rest more frequently.

Increased urge to urinate

From the beginning of the pregnancy to the end of it, it is very common for the pregnant woman to feel a greater need to urinate.

The causes of this are hormonal changes that reduce the bladder's ability to empty completely and, later, the increased size of the fetus that will compress the bladder constantly.

This increased urge to urinate will cause you to get up several times at night, which will affect your rest and increased fatigue.

Emotional changes

A woman's hormonal situation during pregnancy can also influence her mood, so it is common to have increased sensitivity and irritability, as well as sudden mood swings.

All these symptoms are very general and there are women who can suffer them with greater intensity than others.

Other changes

In addition to all the physical and emotional symptoms discussed so far, pregnancy can give rise to many other symptoms such as the following:

  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Gases
  • Acne
  • Appearance of spots on the skin
  • Stretch marks and spider veins
  • Leg cramps

Second and third trimester symptoms

As the weeks of pregnancy progress, you will begin to feel more changes in your body related to weight gain and volume above all.

For example, an enlarged belly will lead to more back pain, stretch marks, more urge to urinate, and trouble sleeping.

On the other hand, the annoying symptoms of the onset of gestation, such as nausea, disappear from the second trimester and you’ll feel more active.

Another characteristic symptom that occurs from weeks 12-14 of pregnancy is the secretion of colostrum from the breasts.

Colostrum is a thick, yellow substance secreted by the breasts that serves as food for the baby during the first few days of life after birth. Colostrum is therefore responsible for milk production.

Once the third trimester is over, it is normal for you to feel more tired, have difficulty moving around and even suffer from insomnia.

Temporary discomforts such as indigestion, heartburn, or mild uterine contractions may also occur.

FAQs from users

When do pregnancy symptoms appear?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Pregnancy symptoms usually appear during the second month of gestation, starting from the fifth week.

It is important to bear in mind that not all women start noticing changes during the first weeks, they can appear later, and that the symptoms vary from one woman to another and even between the different pregnancies of the same woman.

What are the symptoms of a first pregnancy?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Symptoms vary from woman to woman, and between pregnancies, emotional and physical changes may be different. The symptoms mentioned in this article may occur in a first pregnancy or in a later pregnancy. A woman usually has a combination of different symptoms. She does not have to have all of them at the same time.

Are the symptoms of a pregnant woman always the same?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

No, they can vary from one pregnancy to another, as well as in intensity. For example, a woman may not notice symptoms during the first trimester (except for the absence of menstruation) of her first pregnancy and instead have a lot of nausea and tiredness in a later one. There is no way to predict what changes a woman will experience or whether they will be more or less intense.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy week to week?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

There is no way to indicate the symptoms by weeks, as they may appear earlier or later depending on each woman, and the symptoms are not the same for all women.

The most common symptoms are those listed in this article.
Read more

What symptoms may indicate that there is a complication with the pregnancy?

By Sarai Arrones BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Risk symptoms are less common throughout pregnancy and can alert a woman that something is wrong. If any of the following symptoms appear, the recommendation is to contact the gynecologist immediately to determine the cause and look for a solution.

  • Vaginal bleeding: slight bleeding may be normal, but an abundant one is worrisome as it may be a sign of abortion or ectopic pregnancy.
  • Pain or burning when urinating: may be signs of a urinary tract infection.
  • acute stomach pain.
  • Very severe headache.
  • Visual problems.
  • Sudden weight gain.
  • Hand and face swelling.
  • Fever.

Also, don't be alarmed at any unusual or uncommon symptoms. It is important to determine when it is something serious and when it is simply an effect of changes in the body. It is common for first-time pregnant women to see a specialist for any variation or discomfort.

Can men have pregnancy symptoms?

By Sarai Arrones BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, it is possible for a man to experience what is called empathic pregnancy or Couvade syndrome during his partner's gestation. It comes from the French word couver, which means incubate or create.

Men present symptoms similar to those of women, such as abdominal pain, mood swings, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weight gain, among others. Symptoms often cease at the time of delivery, so the only cure is the birth of the baby.

Suggested for you

Most of the signs and symptoms of pregnancy make it uncomfortable for the woman with whom she has to learn to live during the 40 weeks of gestation. In the following article we detail these annoying symptoms in more detail: Common discomforts during pregnancy.

On the other hand, the pregnant woman will experience other changes in her body that will be necessary for the birth of the baby and the beginning of breastfeeding: Pregnancy and physiological changes.

Our editors have made great efforts to create this content for you. By sharing this post, you are helping us to keep ourselves motivated to work even harder.

References

Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information about Cristina Mestre Ferrer
 Sara Salgado
Sara Salgado
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Master's Degree in Human Assisted Reproduction from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Certificate of University Expert in Genetic Diagnosis Techniques from the University of Valencia (UV). More information about Sara Salgado
 Sarai Arrones
Sarai Arrones
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biomedicine and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Specialist Training Course of gamete, embryo, and animal tissue cryopreservation. Embryologist specializing in the field of Assisted Procreation. More information about Sarai Arrones
 Silvia Jiménez Bravo
Silvia Jiménez Bravo
BSc, PhD
Senior Clinical Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree & PhD in Biology from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Certificate of Clinical Embryologist from ASEBIR (Asociación para el Estudio de la Biología de la Reproducción). Director of embryology laboratory at Reprofiv. More information about Silvia Jiménez Bravo
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Sandra Fernández
Sandra Fernández
BA, MA
Fertility Counselor
Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting (English, Spanish, Catalan, German) from the University of Valencia (UV) and Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus (Edinburgh, UK). Postgraduate Course in Legal Translation from the University of Valencia. Specialist in Medical Translation, with several years of experience in the field of Assisted Reproduction. More information about Sandra Fernández

Find the latest news on assisted reproduction in our channels.