What Are the Symptoms of Pregnancy?

The Most Common Symptoms and When They Happen

During pregnancy, from the point at which the egg is fertilized all the way to when labor starts, your body will go through many changes, and you will experience a variety of symptoms.

Early signs you may be pregnant include a missed period, tender breasts, fatigue, and nausea. As your pregnancy progresses, your musculoskeletal system will start to be impacted and you may experience back and/or leg pain. However, every pregnancy is different, so it's normal if your symptoms are different from someone else's.

This article explains common symptoms that occur at each stage of a pregnancy, how to cope with them, and issues that may require you to see a healthcare provider.

Pregnant person reports her symptoms and concerns to a healthcare professional

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First Trimester

A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. Healthcare providers divide this period into three parts or trimesters. Fetal development and your health are usually assessed based on which trimester you're in.

The period from conception to week 13 of your pregnancy is known as the first trimester. In the earliest stage, the first sign you may be pregnant is a missed menstrual period.

You may experience other symptoms around this point as well. Early symptoms include:

  • Slight bleeding: You may experience slight bleeding or spotting that is lighter in color than your normal menstrual blood. This can happen when the fertilized egg is implanted but is often seen during the first weeks of pregnancy.
  • Tender, swollen breasts or nipples: As your body experiences changes in its hormones, your breasts may feel sore or tingly. They may also feel fuller or heavier than normal. You may experience this as early as one to two weeks after conception.
  • Fatigue: Early on in your pregnancy, your body produces more of the hormone progesterone. This helps maintain pregnancy and encourages your body to grow milk-producing glands in your breasts. Along with the fact that you are now pumping more blood to carry nutrients to your baby, this hormonal change can make you feel tired.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting: Though this is often referred to as “morning sickness,” it is common to experience nausea and/or vomiting at any time during the day. This symptom can start anywhere from two to eight weeks after conception and can continue throughout pregnancy. 
  • Headaches: Various pregnancy-related factors can trigger headaches including hormonal changes in early pregnancy. If they interfere with daily life or are extremely painful, you should talk to your healthcare provider about having your headaches evaluated.
  • Changes in mood: Hormonal changes can also trigger sharp changes in mood. These can start as early as a few weeks after conception.
  • Frequent urination: In the first trimester, the body produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This increases blood flow to your pelvic region, which may cause you to urinate more often.
  • Vaginal discharge: Increased vaginal discharge, called leukorrhea, is an early sign of pregnancy. Normal discharge will be odorless and clear or milky.
  • Food cravings or aversions: You may start craving certain foods or developing a sudden dislike for foods you would normally like. This can carry on throughout pregnancy.

Missing a period does not always mean that you are pregnant and may be a sign of something else. You should speak to a healthcare provider if you are experiencing menstrual irregularities or changes to your menstrual cycle, including missed or irregular periods or excessive bleeding.

Second Trimester

The second trimester spans from weeks 14 to week 27. During this period, you may experience less severe symptoms than at other times during your pregnancy. For example, morning sickness usually starts to fade at the end of the first trimester.

However, some symptoms you experienced in the first few weeks of pregnancy may continue or return while new ones appear.

Frequent Urination

After the surge of hCG ends, the need to pee often may fade. But it comes back later in pregnancy as your expanding uterus puts pressure on the bladder.

Abdominal Pain

Mild aching and/or pain in your lower abdomen may occur between weeks 18 and 24 as your fetus grows. While uncomfortable, this is totally normal as your body stretches and gets used to the new pressure.


During your second trimester, you may also first start to experience Braxton Hicks contractions. These are also called false labor contractions and are common during pregnancy. You may feel your abdomen tighten for about half a minute a couple of times a day or feel it harden and remain tense for several seconds. These contractions can be painful and may be mistaken for labor, but they are not a sign of concern and do not indicate that you're going into active labor.

Third Trimester

The third trimester is from week 28 to the end of pregnancy. Common symptoms you may experience during this phase include:

  • Back pain: You might experience back pain at any time in your pregnancy, but it is most common in the last trimester. In about 25% of pregnancies, back pain symptoms are severe enough to be at least temporarily disabling.
  • Urinary problems: As your pregnancy continues you may experience difficulty urinating or you may leak urine. This can be due to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles caused by the area bearing extra weight and pressure for the past few months.
  • Bowel changes: Constipation is normal during pregnancy and is caused by hormonal changes slowing your digestive system. You may find constipation gets worse in the third trimester as your uterus puts pressure on your rectum.
  • Swollen legs: As you get closer to giving birth, you may experience swelling in your legs. This is caused by your uterus putting pressure on your veins. You may also notice your veins becoming larger.


In some instances, new health symptoms during pregnancy are a sign of complications. Be aware of changes that are not typical and talk to your healthcare provider about these.

Depression and Anxiety

You may have heard of postpartum depression, which occurs after the birth of a baby. However, people can also experience mental health conditions during pregnancy, including depression and anxiety.

In these conditions, you may:

  • Feel overwhelmed
  • Feel sad
  • Be severely worried
  • Be agitated
  • Experience fatigue
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Have difficulty sleeping

It's estimated that high levels of depressive symptoms manifest in up to 15% of pregnancies.

Speak to your healthcare provider if you experience these symptoms. Effective treatment is available, and early treatment will increase the chance of successful recovery.


Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorder estimated to occur in 3.4% of pregnancies in the United States. It is not known what causes it.

In preeclampsia, there is an abnormality in the functioning of the placenta and the maternal vascular system. This can result in the fetus getting less oxygen and fewer nutrients. It can also lead to preterm birth and stillbirth.

Signs you may have preeclampsia include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling in the hands and face
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Abdominal pain in your upper right side
  • High levels of protein in your urine (detected by a lab test)

Preeclampsia usually happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If your blood pressure is high, especially after this point, your healthcare provider will do more tests to diagnose whether you have this disorder. In severe cases, you may be admitted to the hospital so that your practitioner can closely monitor you and your condition.

There is no clear way to prevent preeclampsia, but those at higher risk for developing it may be advised to take daily low-dose aspirin starting after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes—high blood sugar—that develops during pregnancy in someone who did not have diabetes before. It involves the hormonal changes your body experiences during pregnancy, causing your body to either not make enough insulin or not use it normally.

Common symptoms of gestational diabetes include:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Swelling in the hands and face

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy ends. However, it does increase your risk of diabetes after pregnancy, so it is very important that you follow up with your healthcare provider to test for this.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Call your healthcare provider if you experience severe and constant abdominal pain and if you are bleeding or have a fever. This may indicate more severe problems.

While some pain and some spotting can be normal during pregnancy, watch for unusual signs such as:

  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Clot-like material passing from the vagina

These may be symptoms of a miscarriage. Miscarriage is the term used to describe a pregnancy loss due to natural causes before 20 weeks. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnancy loss during the first trimester happens in about 10% of known pregnancies.


Dealing with the changes your body experiences during pregnancy can be difficult. However, you can do things to help relieve the pain or discomfort caused by the increased pressure on your body.

Strategies include:

  • Do regular, gentle exercise, including stretches. Speak to your healthcare provider about exercises specifically for your back if you have bad back pain.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.
  • Sit in a chair with good back support.
  • Avoid standing up for too long.
  • Bend your knees when picking things up. Remember not to bend at your waist.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects.
  • Use heat or cold on the sore part of your body.
  • Get a massage. If you go to a professional massage therapist, it is important to let them know you are pregnant.

A Word From Verywell

Everyone experiences pregnancy differently, so you may not experience all the symptoms listed. The symptoms you experience can be challenging, but do not feel that you have to go through your pregnancy alone. Seek support from loved ones, and speak to your healthcare provider about your concerns.

15 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  15. American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Early pregnancy loss.

By Ruth Edwards
Ruth is a journalist with experience covering a wide range of health and medical issues. As a BBC news producer, she investigated issues such as the growing mental health crisis among young people in the UK.