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Early signs of pregnancy

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Are you pregnant?

Could you be pregnant? That thought crosses many women's minds when they find their bodies behaving unusually. While the symptoms could mean any number of things, knowing what they are can put your mind to rest -- or give it lots of hope.

Tired Woman

Before a missed period, are there signs that you might be pregnant? Yes -- and for women who are in tune with their bodies, they can be very noticeable. While a pregnancy test is the best indicator of a pregnancy, these early signs can help you know you even before you take a test.

Tender breasts

If your breasts have never been tender, the sensations of swelling and soreness to the touch are foreign. For the pregnant woman, however, it's commonplace, as breasts ready themselves to fill up with milk. You can experience this symptom just a few weeks into pregnancy. "The most common symptom for me was sore breasts and that unexplained instinct that I just knew," says Nancy, a mom of one who has had four pregnancies (three of which resulted in miscarriage). Nancy says that she could always tell she was expecting around the second week after conception.

Fatigue

  quotation mark open I was probably about a week pregnant and was making my morning cup of coffee when I thought, 'Hmmm, this doesn't smell right.' (By) the fifth day, I made my cup of coffee, looked at it longingly...and poured it down the drain! That was in February, and our daughter was born in November quotation mark close

One of the most often mistaken signs of pregnancy is fatigue -- that oh-so-tired feel that can be as much a symptom of being over-stressed, overworked or jet-lagged. But it can also mean early pregnancy. "I have always been really in tune to my body, but when I first came home from Italy, I was extraordinarily exhausted, which I chalked up to jet lag. I went out to dinner with friends that week and then went home instead of dancing. This was week one [of pregnancy]," says Michele Smith of M Communications (mcommunicationsinc.com).

Heightened sense of smell

You may have heard that pregnant women have an intense, heightened sense of smell that can make normally enjoyable scents unbearable. It might be herbs, cake, seafood or even beloved drinks, but suddenly something is just off. "I was probably about a week pregnant and was making my morning cup of coffee when I thought, 'Hmmm, this doesn't smell right.' (By) the fifth day, I made my cup of coffee, looked at it longingly...and poured it down the drain! That was in February, and our daughter was born in November," said Ann Michael Henry, an effectiveness and productivity consultant with Mise En Place (m-e-p.com).

Nausea

Morning sickness (an incredible misnomer for general malaise that you may feel at any time of the day) can start really early in a pregnancy. You might geel nauseated from things that previously didn't make you ill. That's what happened to Carrie Furet, owner of Essential Baby Planner in San Diego, California (ebabyplanner.com). "My husband and I had gone to the East Coast to visit his family, which we do about twice a year. I felt totally fine on our way out, but on our flight back, I started to get nauseated! I was a frequent flyer at the time, and I never got sick. So, I knew something was off about me," says Carrie. About a week later, she missed her period and took several pregnancy tests -- all positive.

Food aversions and/or cravings

pregnant cravings

If there is one symptom that is epitomizes pregnancies, it's cravings. But women who are pregnant also experience intense aversions (like Ann, who no longer had a nose or taste for coffee). When a craving or aversion strikes, it's surprising, unexpected and incredibly strong. "I know this sounds weird, but I knew I was pregnant when I woke up one day absolutely needing a Big Mac. I hadn't eaten at McDonald's for years after the Supersize Me movie, so I was pretty sure," says Laura Silverthorn, president of Mother Ink (motherink.com).

Some cravings venture beyond the normal to include inedible items; this is called "pica." In those cases, women need to be careful not to give in. "Pica is most often reported among pregnant women," registered dietitian Joyce Barnett, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Allied Health Sciences School, told Pregnancy and Baby. "But it can occur among nonpregnant women, men and children. Children usually outgrow it, but make sure they aren't eating toxic items, such as lead-containing paint chips."

Other symptoms

Other early symptoms some pregnant women experience include headaches, light bleeding and/or cramping, constipation, mood swings, faintness, dizziness and raised basal body temperature.

Tell us: What was your earliest sign of pregnancy? Comment below!

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