Common early pregnancy signs often mistaken for something else, according to an OB/GYN

Pregnancy symptoms are not always obvious — not every mom-to-be heaves up her breakfast, or pines desperately for pickles and ice cream. And if you weren’t observing your cycle timing religiously, there are a number of unexpected symptoms of pregnancy you could easily think mean your period is on the way, or write off as no big deal. 

In an interview with The List, Angela Jones, MD, FACOG, explained that there are “signs that are common during pregnancy yet often time are mistaken for something else.” If you do not want to be taken by surprise by two pink lines, review whether you’ve been dealing with any of these complaints. Then, think back at what you were up to a few weeks ago. And maybe, consider taking a pregnancy test so you can be sure.

Feeling sick and exhausted

Some unexpected symptoms of pregnancy are similar to how you might feel if you are just really run-down. One of them is sheer exhaustion, Jones said. “All of the sudden can’t get through your routine workout? Pregnancy could and should be an early consideration,” she said. “Remember, with pregnancy, you are growing another human being. The revving up of your metabolism, all the cellular turnover involved in supporting, and maintaining a pregnancy, the increased fluid volume that your body now has to support… no wonder you’re exhausted!”

If you’re feeling this plus nausea, your mind is most likely to leap to a flu or virus. And nausea, said Jones, “can be almost immediate at onset. Personally, it was the first pregnancy sign I experienced and I was super early when my pregnancy was diagnosed.”

Another symptom that happens when you’re feeling unwell and is an early pregnancy symptom is lightheadedness, according to Jones. “Wondering why that hot shower all of the sudden has you feeling like you’re going to pass out? Pregnancy could be the answer,” she explained. “During pregnancy, due to elevated hormone levels, your blood vessels are more prone to relaxation and dilation; one of the main reasons I recommend showers that aren’t too hot during pregnancy.”

Irregular bleeding

If you’re trying to get pregnant — or think that you might be — seeing blood in your underwear is either a major disappointment or a huge relief, because women assume that this blood is a period. But, according to Jones, it could be “implantation bleeding, which presents as irregular spotting.” This is the embryo snuggling into the lining of your uterus, which can cause some blood to eke out. “Folks often times will think this an ‘off’ period, or may characterize it as spotting, when in fact, it’s a sign of an early pregnancy.”

Pregnancy can cause other types of bleeding, too, like nose bleeds, which often are accompanied by excess mucus production. “No, you don’t have a sinus infection,” Jones said. “Again, the hormones of pregnancy make things larger, and more engorged due to increased vasculature or blood supply. Your sinuses are no exception. This could also be a sign of early pregnancy; hence, a bit more than the sinus infection or allergies you thought you were developing.”

Seeing pink on your toothbrush also can be a sign of pregnancy, Jones added. “No, you didn’t all of a sudden develop periodontitis. Due to things being much more vascular in pregnancy, bleeding gums may be an early sign.”

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