6 Early Pregnancy Symptoms that May Show Up Before a Positive Test

written by: Lo Mansfield, RN, MSN, CLC

Are you currently Googling “Are there any early signs of pregnancy before I miss my period?” Or maybe you’re on day 22 of your cycle, testing and wondering and hoping, even though you really know that it’s probably too soon for the test to say yes? If any of this sounds familiar, 01) Hi – I’ve been you a lot of times and it’s so hard and, 02) You’re in the right place.

Let’s go through some possible early pregnancy symptoms. It is normal to experience or not experience any of these in early pregnancy. And for some? These could even be a really early, pre missed period sign that yes, you’ve got a baby on the way.

picture of ultrasound and pregnancy test

Who is The Labor Mama and Why Am I Here? 

Hey friend! I’m Lo – also known around here and social media as The Labor Mama. I’ve spent my nursing career in labor, delivery, and postpartum, have birthed 3 of my own babies, have labored thousands of mamas at the bedside, have taught hundreds of students online, and have even delivered a few speedy little babies with my bare hands (oops).

Here at TLM, I offer online birth classes to empower you the way everyone should be. The education + support I offer gives you experience, evidence, and empathy; you’re getting all of my years of “clinical” RN knowledge, beautifully combined with my real experiences as a mama and a nurse. These are not your hospital birth classes (those won’t do it, I promise), and honestly, birth doesn’t follow a textbook or protocol anyway – you need to know so much more than that.

If you want to connect with me further, head to Instagram. There are hundreds of thousands of us over there learning together daily.

Early signs of pregnancy to be on the lookout for 

Thinking you might be pregnant–and the guessing games that ensue–can make you feel crazy. Seriously: every. single. thing. seems like a pregnancy symptom when you’re on the lookout for them and you can’t take that at-home test yet.

Notable (and necessary) disclaimer: your body and your pregnancy is your own, so take these common signs with a grain of salt. Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t guarantee you’re pregnant, and NOT having these doesn’t mean you aren’t, either! The only thing (ugh, sorry friend) that guarantees a pregnancy is a blood or urine test confirmed by your PCP. You’re welcome to get excited (or anxious, or nauseous, etc.) at the prospect of pregnancy with these symptoms, though.

Recently find out you’re pregnant (or are hoping to soon)? Snag this free 1st Trimester Guide to help you prep for what’s next and what to think about! Excited for you!

link to free guide to the first trimester

Possible early pregnancy symptoms before a missed period

Ok, with that disclaimer in your head (truly, take that to heart, okay?), let’s get into some possible signs you’re carrying a new babe.

01. Headaches

If you’re a well-hydrated and rested queen usually, a headache could signal a baby is brewing. Why is this possible? The hormone surge can make you feel less-than-stellar, and some women even report early brain fog before the pregnancy tests are positive.

02. Mood swings

Again, this is one of those symptoms that can signal something OTHER than pregnancy, but if you’re feeling all over the place emotionally it could be an early sign you’re pregnant. Why is this possible? No surprise here, hormones – particularly estrogen and progesterone (which start rising). It can also be a bit of anxiety, stress, and worries about possible upcoming life changes.

03. Fatigue

First trimester fatigue is not for the faint of heart, guys. It’s tough. Having just gone through it again, I forgot how hard it is to be pregnant and exhausted when you’re in the early days of not even looking or feeling pregnant yet. Do you feel extra tired, sluggish, or need an extra nap or two? Why is this possible? This is a super common early symptom (again, thanks hormone surges) of pregnancy.

04: Sore breasts

Feeling breast tenderness or “soreness”? This can be an early pregnancy symptom, as your body does start preparing (pretty darn early) to eventually make milk. Why is this possible? Knock knock, who’s there? Your old friend, hormones again. Tired of hearing about them yet?! But that’s the answer, for this and pretty much everything else at this point! (Personal note? This is NEVER a sign for me. So if you don’t ever notice this, don’t worry. I don’t either and I’ve still always had a “normal” supply and been able to breastfeed).

05: Nausea

Feeling queasy for random reasons? Nauseous when you have no idea why? This could be a sign babe is on the way! Why is this possible? Though we’re talking about VERY early pregnancy, your hcG could already be rising. And this is often thought to be a trigger for nausea and morning sickness. 🛑 Heads up!! This research is super new, but it’s starting to look like morning sickness and nausea are caused by a hormone called GDF15, not hcG, which has kind of been believed forever. This could be interesting to watch play out! 

In need of some nausea and morning sickness help or remedies? I got you! Here are a ton of options that might help, as per the thousands of mama I polled about this over on Instagram!

06. Smell sensitivity

The smell of eggs making you want to run? Your favorite coffee sen the worst thing ever? Welcome to smell sensitivity, a really weird part of pregnancy! Why is this possible? Hormones, blah, blah, right?.I’ve heard it could also be a crazy protective mechanism that keeps moms from eating foods that have gone bad or aren’t right for them during pregnancy, which I think is so cool!

This smell sensitivity idea also includes aversions, because good grief are the early pregnancy aversions very real. I’d love to hear what you hated the look/thought/smell of during those early first trimester days in the comments below. If you’re currently in the gray area of not knowing whether you’re pregnant or not, leave those in the comments, too–we’re here for all of it in the crazy wait.

collection of remedies for morning sickness

Can I be pregnant without early pregnancy symptoms?

Absolutely, 100%, yes. Truly. With my first 2 babies, I had ZERO signs of pregnancy before I peed on the test. And even once I had the positive at-home urine test, I still didn’t feel anything for a couple of weeks. 

I’d really encourage you NOT to worry if you aren’t noticing anything. That is so, so normal. Don’t let the lack of pregnancy symptoms before that missed period convince you that you aren’t pregnant or have you grieving a “no” before you need to. 

The takeaway on early signs of pregnancy

I’m with you mama, in knowing how hard it is to wait to be able to take one of those simple at home tests. (These are always my fav, btw. They’re so affordable and it’s nice to have a pack around, especially if you’re testing earlier than you maybe should be (yes, like I do)). And I’m with you in that I too have spent weeks and weeks looking for any possible early pregnancy symptom before I missed that period. While there are some things you might notice that might mean baby is on the ways, one last reminder (and encouragement) that it’s also just as normal to notice nothing before that positive test. 

If you’re in a season of trying, waiting, and testing – sending you ALL the love.

What was your earliest pregnancy symptom? Did it show up before your test? Let us know in the comments; I love seeing what all of them are! xx – Lo

positive pregnancy test and 8 week ultrasounds

More resources (and freebies!) for you to take a peek at:

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About the Author

Lo Mansfield RN, MSN, CLC, is a specialty-certified registered nurse + certified lactation consultant in obstetrics, postpartum, and fetal monitoring who is passionate about families understanding their integral role in their own stories. She is the owner of The Labor Mama and creator of the The Labor Mama online courses. She is also a mama of four a University of Washington graduate (Go Dawgs), and is recently back in the US after 2 years abroad in Haarlem, NL.


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