Recognizing the first signs and symptoms of pregnancy

Reconnaître les premiers signes et les symptômes de la grossesse

Are you pregnant or not yet? When a woman wants a baby, she often looks for the first signs of pregnancy with each new menstrual cycle. These signs, which may appear a few days after conception, are sometimes difficult to recognize and interpret. Delayed menstruation, nausea, tender breasts, mood swings, increased temperature, weight gain... Pregnancy symptoms are numerous and are expressed differently by mothers-to-be. But how can we detect the onset of pregnancy? What are the main associated signs? What methods should you use to check that you're really pregnant? Let's find out.

When do the first signs of pregnancy appear?

The first signs of pregnancy vary from one woman to another. Few women report experiencing symptoms during the first week after conception. In general, mothers-to-be begin to notice changes from the2nd or3rd week onwards. Sometimes there are no signs at all!

After fusing with a sperm in one of the mother's fallopian tubes, the fertilized egg begins its journey to the uterus. This stage, which lasts around a week, ends with the implantation of the embryo in the uterine wall. During this new phase, known as implantation, some women experience pain similar to that of menstruation, and bleed slightly. However, this first sign of pregnancy after ovulation does not always occur.

It is the production of the hormone beta-hCG (or chorionic gonadotropic hormone), secreted at implantation, that often triggers the first symptoms. In the early stages of pregnancy, some women may experience tension in their breasts.

The psychological aspect is also a factor to consider. The desire for a child can be so strong that the body may show false signs of pregnancy. It's best to remain patient and wait for more significant signs, such as a delay in menstruation.

What are the main symptoms of pregnancy?

Pregnancy symptoms can vary greatly from one woman to another, and from one pregnancy to the next. Although there are many, there are a number of symptoms that are frequently encountered by mothers-to-be, and which are highly suggestive. Here are 9 sure-fire signs of pregnancy!

1. Delayed or absent periods

A late period or absence of menses (amenorrhea) is the main indicator of a possible pregnancy. Menstruation corresponds to the periodic evacuation of the uterine lining in the absence of fertilization. If you notice a delay of several days, it's possible that an embryo has settled in your uterus.

However, this phenomenon is not 100% reliable. Women prone to stress, with irregular cycles or whose lifestyle has recently changed, may be misled. What's more, some women may experience light bleeding and even "anniversary periods

2. Sensitive breasts and nipples

Breast and nipple tenderness remains a relatively common symptom in pregnant women. Mothers-to-be may feel tension in their breasts very early on. This physical change is the result of increased levels of progesterone and estrogen, two hormones acting on the mammary glands.

Your breasts will increase in volume, become firmer and sometimes feel sore when you lie on your side, for example. Your nipples and areolas will also swell in preparation for breast-feeding. Are you looking for a comfortable, progressive maternity bra? Discover our nursing bra!

3. Vaginal discharge and secretions

Leucorrhoea, or white discharge, is a normal vaginal secretion present in all women. These odorless discharges are usually fairly light in color. Their role is to lubricate the vagina and cleanse it by eliminating dead cells.

At the start of pregnancy, blood circulation in the female genital tract increases and cell renewal accelerates. If you notice a heavier discharge than usual, you could well be expecting a child! These secretions should remain clear and odorless. If this is not the case,consult your GP or gynaecologist without delay, as it could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis or mycosis.

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4. Chronic fatigue

From the start of pregnancy and throughout the first trimester, pregnant women generally feel anirrepressible urge to sleep or take a nap. This almost permanent state of tiredness is the result of the various hormonal changes taking place in her body, and is one of the many symptoms of pregnancy in the early weeks.

The progesterone secreted in abundance during the first months has relaxing and sedative properties. As for estrogen, it stimulates the growth of new cells, increases blood volume and accelerates the heart rate. If you begin to sleep longer at night or feel breathless when climbing stairs, you may be expecting a baby.

5. Nausea and stomach ache

Nausea and vomiting affect around 85% of pregnant women during the first trimester. This pregnancy symptom is therefore a good indicator of the start of fertilization. Nausea can appear as soon as menstruation is delayed, peaking around the 9th week. It generally disappears during the second trimester for the luckiest mothers-to-be. Others, unfortunately, may suffer from it right up to delivery.

Once again, it's a question of hormones:

  • Beta-hCG maintains stomach acidity and slows down digestive functions. It also stimulates the secretion of estrogens, known to promote nausea and vomiting.
  • The abundant production of progesterone leads to a reduction in muscle tone and a relaxation of the cardia, the sphincter that closes the stomach.

Nausea can therefore be accompanied by digestive problems (heartburn, gastro-oesophageal reflux, intestinal cramps...). To relieve nausea, limit your consumption of acidic foods, for example.

6. Frequent urination

A woman starting a pregnancy often feels the need to urinate more frequently. This pregnancy symptom results from the pressure exerted by the uterus on the bladder, but also from the increased blood flow in the pelvic region. As a result, the kidneys have to filter a greater quantity of liquid, which increases the number of daily micturitions.

To limit discomfort, go to the bathroom as soon as possible and stay well hydrated throughout the day. You can also reduce your beverage intake in the evening to avoid waking up at night.

7. Mood and emotional changes

From the very first weeks, mothers-to-be may notice changes in their moods and become more emotional than usual. Pregnancy hormones trigger contradictory feelings: joy, fear, fullness, anxiety... the whole range of emotions is represented, sometimes in the space of a few minutes!

These pregnancy symptoms are common during the first three months. By listening to your body and your moods, you may be able to sense that you're pregnant.

8. Disturbed sleep

In early pregnancy, some pregnant women experience sleep disturbances. This signal is mainly the result of the three preceding pregnancy symptoms:

  • Nausea may wake you up earlier in the morning or disturb your sleep at night.
  • The urge to urinate may drag you out of bed at night.
  • Anxiety and fear may affect your sleep.

9. Changes in eating habits

Finally, expectant mothers frequently notice changes in their eating habits from the very first weeks of pregnancy. They tend to increase the amount of food they eat, and often experience cravings throughout the day.

Taste and smell alsochange, leading to surprising cravings and aversions. It's therefore possible that you may no longer like your favorite dish at all, and that you may become enamored of a product that you previously detested.

Do pregnancy symptoms arrive from day one?

It's unlikely that you'll experience pregnancy symptoms from day one. In fact, a delay in menstruation or unusual nausea are the main signals that lead women to wonder about possible embryo implantation.

We have seen that the first signs can appear between the2nd and3rd week after ovulation, and that not all women experience them in the same way. Our advice: be patient and listen to your body!

Are painful periods a sign of pregnancy?

It's not possible tobe pregnant and still have your period. However, at the beginning of the first trimester, a mother-to-be may experience bleeding that resembles menstruation. This metrorrhagia (loss of blood between periods) occurs during the first trimester. They are caused by the implantation of the embryo in the uterus and are characterized by a pink or brown color. They are painless and last between 1 and 2 days. To make the most of this period, don't hesitate to wear our organic cotton menstrual briefs.

Pregnant women may also experience an "anniversary period" coinciding with their expected menstruation date. This may be due to a benign abruption of the placenta, which will eventually subside. If this bleeding is accompanied by intense pain, consult a health professional as soon as possible. It could indicate an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

How can I check if my symptoms are consistent with pregnancy?

Are you experiencing several of the symptoms mentioned above and would like to know if you are pregnant? To find out, you can take a urine or blood test, possibly supplemented by an ultrasound scan.

Pregnancy test

A urinepregnancy test purchased from a chemist or supermarket will tell you if you're expecting a baby. Relatively reliable, it detects the presence of the hormone beta-hCG in urine. This substance is secreted around a week after conception, and its concentration rises sharply during the first trimester.

To obtain an accurate result, it is advisable to perform this test with the first morning urine, 1 to 2 weeks after the expected date of menstruation. If the test is positive, you are certainly expecting a child. All you need to do now is confirm the result with a laboratory blood test.

Pregnancy blood test

Asthe hCG hormone is more concentrated in the blood, a laboratory sample prescribed by your midwife or gynecologist will enable faster detection than a urine test. You can take this blood sample 8 to 10 days after fertilization, i.e. a week before the start of your period. This is the most reliable test.


Your gynecologist may suggest an ultrasound during a follow-up consultation to find out if you are pregnant. Please note, however, thatultrasound is harmless for the baby, and can only detect a pregnancy after 7 days' delay in menstruation, i.e. 3 weeks after fertilization. The embryo will then measure around 1.5 mm and can be observed during the ultrasound. Its correct implantation in the uterus and its viability will also be checked.

When do pregnancy symptoms disappear?

The first symptoms of pregnancy generally subside at the beginning of the second trimester. Nausea and fatigue should diminish or even stop around the 12th week. Your body will begin to adjust to this new state, and your hormone levels will stabilize. So it's perfectly normal to feel better as your pregnancy progresses. If your symptoms don't subside, keep in mind that they' ll disappear quickly after you give birth.

Pregnancy symptoms FAQ

What are the signs of a one-week pregnancy?

Nausea and breast tenderness are the most common signs of a one-week pregnancy.

Where should I touch to find out if I'm pregnant?

The cervix of a pregnant woman undergoes various changes that can be detected by a simple vaginal touch. At the start of gestation, it will appear softer and more voluminous. However, this examination must be carried out by a health professional and cannot be reproduced at home.

How can I tell if I'm pregnant without a pregnancy test?

You can find many grandmotherly recipes on the Internet for making your own home pregnancy test. However, only a urine or blood test will enable you to confirm that you are indeed pregnant.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.